Entering the 2023 NBA Draft with no draft picks to their name, the Chicago Bulls did well to navigate both the trade block and undrafted free agent market to emerge with two very promising rookies. Selecting Julian Phillips 35th overall and signing national champion Adama Sanogo to a two-way contract for the 2023-24 season, either of these two players could make a big difference for a currently undermanned Bulls roster next season.
With two new rookies on the squad, expectations will be high as the Bulls attempt to round out the roster with cheap talent to remain beneath the luxury tax. Here’s a high-end, a low-end, and relatively realistic player comparison for both Phillips and Sanogo as they prepare to enter their rookie seasons.
Bulls’ dream player comparisons for Julian Phillips and Adama Sanogo
Although he’s unlikely to ever become a lights-out shooter from deep, the lack of a shot is the only thing holding Phillips back from becoming a truly great NBA player. With a max vertical leap that some say has reached up to 44 inches as well as a nearly 7-foot wingspan, he has all the intangibles to make an impact on the court.
Phillips is a high IQ defender both on and off the ball, and is willing to utilize his athleticism to crash the boards. If he could become an even semi-dependable shooter, the role he could fulfill is one that we just witnessed a former No. 1 overall pick play to perfection in a 2022 championship run. That player, of course, is none other than Andrew Wiggins. Even though he’s only a 35.4% career shooter, nobody would dispute the fact that Wiggins has become an exceptional starter in the league today.
Julian Phillips’ Dream Comparison: Andrew Wiggins
This might seem a little ridiculous to say about a player who went undrafted, but there’s a legitimate case to be made that Sanogo was the best player in the country last season — at least through March and April. Leading Connecticut to the national title, Sanogo was incredible as his averages rose to 19.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 66.7% shooting from the field in the six most important games of the season.
Not every great March Madness underdog story ends with the main character becoming a bonafide NBA player, that’s true. But the fact remains Sanogo rose to the occasion when the pressure was at its highest, has tremendous physicals to bang down low in the big leagues, is a plus rebounder and defender, and has shown he’s willing to work on his three-point shot to survive as a professional. For an undrafted player on a two-way contract, that’s about as great of a no-risk, high-reward gamble as you’re going to get.
Adama Sanogo’s Dream Comparison: Naz Reid