Without any draft picks at their disposal in the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls will be forced to get crafty if they want to come away with a promising prospect to add to their young core. Although I’ve primarily had my eye on undrafted or late second-round players the Bulls could acquire this summer, it seems the front office has their eyes set quite a bit higher than myself.
At this year’s Draft Combine in Chicago, the Bulls actually interviewed Alabama’s Brandon Miller. Leading the Crimson Tide to a 31-6 record and the top seed in the NCAA tournament, Miller has attracted quite a bit of attention leading up to the draft process, and is by all accounts expected to be selected no later than third overall on June 22.
Bulls insider K.C. Johnson provided some insight as to just what this may mean regarding the team’s plans at the draft.
"“Such meetings are certainly part of the due diligence process. They can provide organizational intel for either the draft or perhaps a trade or free-agency decision down the road. But it’s at least intriguing that so many projected lottery picks—and in the case of Alabama forward Miller, an extremely high lottery pick—represented the Bulls’ focus.”"
Of course, there’s no chance the Bulls actually acquire a lottery-level player without either divine intervention or making a trade. So far, Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have done an impeccable job of maintaining the facade that they’re committed to this core long-term, but a move like this would be a massive swing in the opposite direction.
Trading up into the top three would immediately reset the Bulls and put them back on the right track again.
Fortunately, if the Bulls do wish to acquire a player of Miller’s caliber, they won’t have to cough up a treasure trove of assets — much like the Panthers recently did for the Bears’ No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. Even Miller will tell you himself, there’s a clear top dog at this year’s draft proceedings: Victor Wembanyama.
“[Wembanyama is] an animal. I would give (the No. 1 pick) to him — 7-5 with an 8-foot wingspan. Can’t really beat that out,” Miller said. “He has guard skills. I don’t knock him. I respect him. I would love to meet him.”
Just because Miller won’t go first overall, doesn’t mean he’ll come cheap either. If the rumors prove true that the Portland Trail Blazers are floating the No. 3 pick in an effort to win now around Damian Lillard, this could be the perfect time for Chicago to strike. With three All-Star caliber players and a few interesting complementary pieces like Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams, and Coby White, the framework for a trade is certainly set up well here so that an agreeable deal for both sides could work out.
Even if discussions with Portland stall out, the Bulls haven’t put all their eggs in the Brandon Miller Basket. He wasn’t the only player Chicago interviewed, as they also brought in Anthony Black, Cason Wallace, and Nick Smith Jr. to talk things over. Each of these prospects are projected to be selected in the lottery, and oddly enough all play the guard position.
Whether or not that means the Bulls are considering overhauling their already logjammed backcourt rotation is hard to say right now, but it’s reassuring to see they’re keeping their options open ahead of the 2023 NBA Draft.
Even if Chicago doesn’t make a move, it’s only right that the people in the front office do their due diligence to ensure every route to improvement has been adequately explored.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t hold my breath in hopes a deal like this gets done. If the Trail Blazers do indeed make the No. 3 pick available, it’s certain to draw a lot of interest from several teams around the league that could have more to offer than the Bulls, like say, the Raptors. That being said, the thought of this deal is so tantalizing it may just be enough to sway the court of public opinion back in AKME’s favor after a shaky 2022-23 season.