How winning the draft lottery would impact the Bulls’ starting lineup

Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery set to take place tonight, several teams around the league will finally begin to answer the questions fans have been asking all summer. For starters, adding a great young player and getting out of the lottery and back into the playoff picture will be the top priority for the Chicago Bulls, among many others.

Since the Bulls dealt the rights to their pick this year to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Nikola Vucevic, they’ll be relying on a top-four protection to retain the pick this year. Chicago has a 1.8% chance to win the No. 1 overall pick, and 8.5% odds to land in the top four in general. It may not seem like much to get our hopes up over, but history has been on the Bulls’ side before, and this lottery is the clearest route toward the Bulls making a dramatic improvement next season.

As it currently stands, the Bulls are expected to run back the same core with Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams, and Nikola Vucevic (if here-signs) in the starting five. There will likely be a preseason competition between Alex Caruso, Coby White, and Ayo Dosunmu to determine who will be Chicago’s starting point guard, but the draft lottery could potentially shake all those plans up.

How would the Chicago Bulls’ starting lineup change if they won the first pick in the draft lottery?

Unlike the other top selections in this year’s draft, there’s simply no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who will be the first player off the board at the 2023 NBA Draft. That honor goes to France’s Victor Wembanyama, of course, who many scouts project to have a generational combination of size and skill.

Even Wembanyama holds no illusions that he’ll go any later than first overall, tweeting in French “10 days before knowing my future team. It’s really a crazy thing .”

Were the Bulls to leap up to the first spot in the draft, they’d be foolish to break from the consensus here by selecting anyone other than Wembanyama. The only tough decision would be deciding whether or not to start him at center or as a Kevin Durant-esque power forward. Given Chicago’s struggles with rebounding the basketball, I believe re-signing Vucevic would still be in this team’s best interest.

From there, the front office would be forced to decide between either sending their (former) best prospect Patrick Williams to the bench, or trading their best player DeMar DeRozan away to open a spot in the starting lineup. Given management’s obsession with continuity and winning now, I believe they’d opt for the latter.

  • PG: Alex Caruso
  • SG: Zach LaVine
  • SF: DeMar DeRozan
  • PF: Victor Wembanyama
  • C: Nikola Vucevic

How would getting the second pick affect the Bulls’ starting lineup?

Although not as clear-cut of a call as the top pick, I doubt Chicago would hold any reservations about who to pick here. Given their clear hole at the point guard position, taking Scoot Henderson of the G League Ignite would be an easy call to make. This team would still have several holes to address, but adding a great playmaker and fourth dependable scorer in the starting five would make this team far more dangerous.

  • PG: Scoot Henderson
  • SG: Zach LaVine
  • SF: DeMar DeRozan
  • PF: Patrick Williams
  • C: Nikola Vucevic

What about the third pick?

If the Bulls don’t earn a top-two pick, I don’t think they should weep just yet, as Alabama’s Brandon Miller is talented enough to go first overall in other weaker draft classes. His potential as the best 3-and-D prospect in the draft will certainly have several teams eager to add Miller to their core, as his skill set is one that will undoubtedly age well in today’s NBA. I’m not sure if they’d pull the trigger on this move immediately, but sending DeRozan off to a contender to grant this team’s young core a chance to thrive would be the smart move here.

  • PG: Coby White
  • SG: Zach LaVine
  • SF: Patrick Williams
  • PF: Brandon Miller
  • C: Nikola Vucevic

What would the Bulls do with the fourth pick in the 2023 NBA Draft?

This is where it gets especially tricky, as the Bulls would be left with no clear easy option here. Much like they did with Patrick Williams at fourth overall in 2020, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see Chicago reach for a player here. With so much concern surrounding the Thompson twins and the competition they’ve faced in Overtime Elite, I could see them looking to add a competent power forward to address their lack of rebounding and post presence. Houston’s Jarace Walker fits the bill here, especially after a dominant showing at the draft combine.

  • PG: Alex Caruso
  • SG: Zach LaVine
  • SF: DeMar DeRozan
  • PF: Jarace Walker
  • C: Nikola Vucevic

This would allow the team to try winning now, while also leaving a lot of flexibility to make moves to retool and perhaps allow Coby and Pat another chance to break the starting lineup. Regardless of which of these scenarios play out, they’d all be a whole lot better than the current predicament the Bulls find themselves in.

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