Last season, the Chicago Bulls faced the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs and lost the series in five games. Chicago allowed Giannis Antetokounmpo to average 28.6 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 6.2 assists on 56.8% shooting from the field, essentially being unable to stop the Greek Freak and ultimately leading to the team’s elimination last year.
Now that the trade deadline has come and passed, the Bulls still have not found that answer and have not been rumored to be looking for players that fit this mold. However, a potential answer may be currently playing college hoops.
Even though the Bulls do not currently own the rights to their picks for this upcoming draft, they may be able to acquire one through potential trades. The Bulls are fielding plenty of trade offers, and if they are able to gain a second-round pick, an intriguing option could be Trayce Jackson-Davis, a 6’9” senior forward currently playing at Indiana.
Trayce Jackson-Davis could be a tremendous fit with the Chicago Bulls as a defensive-minded power forward with the size and strength to defend big men.
Jackson-Davis is among the 25 players on the Midseason Wooden Award Watch List, which is given to the most outstanding men’s college basketball player. TJD is 3rd in betting odds for the award due to an outstanding senior season. The forward’s stat line has been phenomenal, averaging 19.8 points, 11 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game, while also showing off his passing with 3.4 assists. Among the Power 5 Conferences, Jackson-Davis is top 10 in points, rebounds, and blocks, while posting the most blocks per game of anyone in those conferences.
He has shown incredible defensive ability and a knack for blocking shots, serving as the anchor for an excellent defensive team. This past Saturday, Jackson-Davis led Indiana to a win over #1 overall Purdue, scoring 25 points and adding 7 boards and 5 blocks. He was able to make huge defensive plays like these:
TJD has also shown tremendous play in the paint, as his energy and bounce has led to electrifying dunks.
Additionally, he has shown his ability to drive to the bucket and score:
This combination of offensive and defensive potential gives him the ability to have a place in the league as a high-energy player who can make plays on both ends of the court.
However, there are a few reasons why Jackson-Davis is currently projected to be a second-round pick. First, TJD is an older draft prospect. He will be turning 23 in a week, which means that he will be quite old for a rookie and halfway to 24 by the time next season starts. Additionally, Jackson-Davis’ offensive game is extremely limited. He is tremendous in the paint, but struggles with his jumper and often refuses to take those shots. He has never made a three-pointer in his college career, only attempting 3. These have been the main reasons why teams are reluctant to draft him.
Despite this, the Chicago Bulls could have a unique opportunity to capitalize on an underrated prospect. They already did it with Ayo Dosunmu, who is now the Bulls starting point guard with Lonzo Ball being out. Chicago would be the perfect situation for Jackson-Davis to thrive, as the Bulls need a defensive-minded power forward with size and strength to defend the bigger power forwards that they are currently not equipped to deal with. The Bulls’ undersized power forwards have been a glaring weakness that teams have capitalized on, and acquiring Trayce Jackson-Davis could mitigate this flaw even as a role player used in certain situations.
Additionally, Jackson-Davis could be a good fit with the Bulls as a complement to Nikola Vucevic. Vooch is more of a stretch 5 who struggles on the defensive end, and Jackson-Davis could be there to give the big man some help defensively. On offense, Vooch’s shooting ability would allow the Bulls to maintain proper spacing, as Jackson-Davis would likely stay inside while Vucevic has the ability to play on the perimeter when TJD is on the court.
Overall, the Chicago Bulls could have the opportunity to find an underrated prospect that solves a glaring need for the team while also requiring a low investment.