Entering the 2023 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls had not a single draft pick to their name. Although this was supposed to be a rather uneventful rookie class for the Bulls, Chicago ended up picking a pair of very interesting prospects worth developing for the future.
The first of which, of course, is Julian Phillips, whom the Bulls dealt their 2026 and 2027 second-round draft picks to select with the 35th pick. However, the second rookie may actually be the more interesting prospect of the two, despite the fact he went undrafted and signed with the Bulls outright as a free agent.
The player I’m referring to is none other than Adama Sanogo out of Gonzaga, the man in the middle who has a national title to his name and a lot to offer with his game. Now on a two-way deal with Chicago, Sanogo aspires to be the first successful developmental project the Bulls have had in quite some time.
There are many reasons Bulls fans should be excited to see Adama Sanogo in action this season.
1. Adama Sanogo has an elite collegiate pedigree
The Bulls have found great success with drafting older and more developed talent in the past with players such as Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Ayo Dosunmu, and most notably Jimmy Butler in the past, so I’m glad to see them not shy away here with Sanogo. Starting at Connecticut since his freshman season, Sanogo was named to the Big East All-Freshman team before earning All-Big East honors in his sophomore and junior seasons.
In his final collegiate season, Sanogo averaged an impressive 17.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while leading Connecticut on a miraculous run to the national championship as a four-seed. After defeating San Diego State for the title, Sanogo would earn the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award, which has led to many fans being excited about the prospect of his NBA debut.
2. He fulfills a huge area of need for the Bulls
With only one main roster space left to fill, the Bulls are in a tricky situation where they must choose between signing a player to be the primary backup behind Patrick Williams, or adding a third center as insurance in case of injury. Ideally, Chicago would find a player that checks both of those boxes, but if they can only have one, adding another forward is the clear priority here,
That’s why having Sanogo on a two-way deal will be huge for the Bulls. In the event either Nikola Vucevic or Andre Drummond misses any time this season, he’ll be around to step up when needed. Sanogo will need to prove he deserves that opportunity in the G League first, of course, but if he plays anything like we saw from him in Las Vegas, I know he’ll be ready when the opportunity comes knocking.
3. Summer League was a playground for Sanogo
While most Bulls fans were looking forward to seeing Dalen Terry and the recent No. 35 overall draft pick Julian Phillips take Summer League by storm, it was actually Adama Sanogo and Javon Freeman-Liberty who stole the show. Although Sanogo didn’t receive an All-Summer League Team nomination like JFL, he averaged 10.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while posting the same net rating as Miami’s Orlando Robinson, a player who was selected to the All-Summer League First Team and many believe deserved to win Summer League MVP.
Sanogo posted the 7th highest PER of all qualified players in the Summer League, and was 5th amongst rookies specifically. He also had the lowest usage percentage of any player in the top 20 of PER, which is particularly important because these players won’t have the opportunity to take the same shots they did when they move up to the NBA. If Sanogo can continue making an impact without the ball in his hands, he’ll be a welcome addition to the Chicago Bulls.