Odds of Bulls keeping first-round pick may be worse than expected

Victor Wembanyama, Chicago Bulls, 2023 NBA Draft Lottery Odds (Photo by Christian Liewig - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Victor Wembanyama, Chicago Bulls, 2023 NBA Draft Lottery Odds (Photo by Christian Liewig - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images) /

Next up on the offseason checklist for the Chicago Bulls is the NBA Draft Lottery, which is set to take place in just a few days on May 16. This is where the winner of the Victor Wembanyama Sweepstakes will be named. Teams have coveted the 19-year-old, who is constantly growing and is now reportedly 7’5″. The big man from France is likely the most highly touted prospect since LeBron James in 2003 due to his tremendous size and talent, and is fully expected to be one of the best in the NBA as his career progresses.

Despite Wembanyama’s presence looming over the lottery, there are many other storylines at play, including which team has the rights to draft an electric point guard in Scoot Henderson and if the Dallas Mavericks’ tanking against the Chicago Bulls pays off for them. One thing is for sure, the main focus on the minds of Bulls fans is a top-4 pick.

Back in 2021, Chicago made a blockbuster trade with the Orlando Magic to receive Nikola Vucevic, who the Bulls have now had for about 2.5 seasons and is now an unrestricted free agent. The Bulls gave up Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter, plus top-4 protected first-round picks in 2021 and 2023.

The 2021 pick turned into an extremely promising player in Franz Wagner, who averaged 18.6 points per game in just his second NBA season. Now, the final piece of the Vucevic trade is going to reveal itself, as the Bulls have the 11th-best odds in the NBA draft lottery and mathematically an 8.5% chance of keeping their first-rounder in 2023.

The Chicago Bulls have an 8.5% chance of keeping their 2023 first-round pick, but history says the odds may be even more slim.

Since the NBA Draft Lottery expanded to more than 11 teams in 1995, there has been only one instance where the team with the 11th-best odds has actually moved into a top-4 pick. This was in 2019 when the Los Angeles Lakers received the 4th overall pick in the draft, where they selected De’Andre Hunter. Hunter was then moved to the New Orleans Pelicans in the Anthony Davis trade, and was traded again to Atlanta, where he has played his first four seasons with the Hawks.

This was the only time in the last 28 years that the 11th-worst team in the league was able to get a top pick in the draft, which means that the historical odds are just 3.57%. This should definitely be of concern to Bulls fans, as the pure likelihood of keeping their pick has been extremely poor over nearly three decades.

With this in mind, this would only be the 2nd time since 2005 that the Chicago Bulls will not make a first-round pick in the draft, with the only other time being in 2021, also in the Vucevic trade. Additionally, the Bulls will forfeit their second-round pick that they received from the Denver Nuggets as a result of tampering in the acquisition of Lonzo Ball.

Right now, it seems that the Chicago Bulls will not be making any picks in this upcoming draft, unless they make some trades for picks. Nonetheless, the Bulls are really paying for their actions made in 2021, and it will be interesting to see how they respond and if the franchise can bounce back.

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