5 best free agent options for Bulls after 2022 NBA Draft

JaVale McGee, Nic Claxton, Chicago Bulls, NBA Free Agency (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
JaVale McGee, Nic Claxton, Chicago Bulls, NBA Free Agency (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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Isaiah Hartenstein, Chicago Bulls, NBA Free Agency
Isaiah Hartenstein, Chicago Bulls, NBA Free Agency (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

1. Isaiah Hartenstein

If the Bulls are to acquire just one big man during this free agency, Isaiah Hartenstein would undoubtedly be at the top of my Christmas wish list.

The advanced metrics love Hartenstein due to his high basketball IQ and ability to affect the game positively on both ends of the court. When I say the advanced metrics love Hartenstein, I mean they love him. In fact, Hartenstein just finished this past season with the 4th highest true shooting percentage, 10th highest win shares per 48 minutes, and the 17th highest PER in the entire NBA.

Somehow, someway, those aren’t even the most exciting advanced metrics supporting Hartenstein’s worth as a player.

Tied with Robert Williams for the 4th best defensive box plus/minus this past season, Hartenstein’s talent as a defender is undeniable. Considering Williams just appeared to be the clear-cut best defensive player in the NBA Finals — even over the Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart himself — this is an extremely impressive accomplishment.

What he lacks in sheer athletic ability, Hartenstein compensates for with his ability to consistently make the right plays and improve his teammates around him. As a plus playmaker and help defender, it’s hard to keep your eyes off his on-court impact even when Hartenstein doesn’t have the ball.

Hartenstein will be set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, meaning the Bulls will have a golden opportunity to offer him the full MLE and a bigger role. In LA, Hartenstein is stuck behind Ivica Zubac. But with Chicago, he could grow into the heir apparent of the starting center position after Vucevic’s contract expires.

I doubt the Clippers will be willing to let him go without a fight, but if the Bulls could get their hands on Hartenstein, it just might be the steal of the summer.

Next. What's next for the Bulls after the 2022 NBA Draft?. dark