Chicago Bulls push the envelope by picking big man Marko Simonovic

The second round pick (44th overall) for Arturas Karnisovas and the Chicago Bulls wound up being the KK Mega Bemax center Marko Simonovic.

No, the Chicago Bulls 44th overall pick in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft is not the 34-year-old longtime EuroLeague forward Marko Simonovic. It is confusing that the actual Bulls pick was the 21-year-old 6-foot-11 and 215 pound Montenegro big man Marko Simonovic. The Bulls didn’t have many solid options in the frontcourt, or a slam dunk pick like they had last year in the former Arkansas Razorbacks rim-running center Daniel Gafford, with their second round 2020 draft pick.

With their second round pick, the Bulls did get a pretty solid draft-and-stash prospect in Simonovic. Just turning 21 years old last month, Simonovic could take a bit of time to develop before the Bulls allow him to make his NBA debut.

This is a move that was common for the Bulls newly hired executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas back during his tenure as the Denver Nuggets general manager and an international head scout with the Houston Rockets. By no means was the pick of Simonovic by the Bulls in the second round (44th overall) a bad move at all.

While I’m not saying that Karnisovas found the say caliber of player, but let’s not forget that he found Nikola Jokic in the second round (41st overall) in the 2014 NBA Draft during his time with the Nuggets.

In seven games played (five of which he started in) so far during the 2020-21 season with KK Mega Bemax in Liga ABA, Simonovic dramatically improved his numbers. He’s averaged 16.3 points per game, 9.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.6 steals, and 0.7 blocks. And Simonovic shot 51.4 percent from the field, 41.4 percent from beyond the arc, and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line.

In 24 games played with KK Mega Bemax during the 2019-20 season (all but two of which he started in), Simonovic put up similar numbers. During the 2019-20 season, he averaged 16.8 points per game, 8.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.2 blocks. And Simonovic shot 50.9 percent from the field, 31.1 percent from beyond the arc, and 80.3 percent from the free-throw line.

A lot of those numbers that Simonovic put up with KK Mega Bemax in Liga ABA over the course of the last two seasons aren’t bad at all. He’s also showing a high rate of improvement in his game on both ends of the floor since exiting his teenage years.

More specifically, Simonovic is a good and fluid athlete for his size. He’s a solid rim protector, but needs to put on more muscle/overall size to his frame to contend with NBA caliber big men down low. Simonovic also has solid court vision from the paint, and is a rapidly improving shooter from almost everywhere on the floor. His rebounding ability is also one of his most underrated qualities.

Simonovic is the type of pick that isn’t going to make an immediate impact for the Bulls, like Gafford did last season. But both he and the Bulls fourth overall pick in the 2020 draft lottery, former Florida State Seminoles forward Patrick Williams, can help bolster the depth and utility in the frontcourt rotation over the long haul for this rebuild.

There are going to be mixed feelings around the Bulls fan base as to what they’ve done on draft night 2020. But we need to just be patient and trust the process for the direction this Bulls rebuild is headed in under the direction of Karnisovas and Eversley with this new front office regime.