Rebuilding incentivized for Bulls after Cooper Flagg reclassifies to 2024

Cooper Flagg, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)
Cooper Flagg, Chicago Bulls (Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports) /

If you spend more than a few minutes in Chicago Bulls spaces online, it won’t take long to find fans advocating for the franchise to initiate a rebuild. Blowing things up without a plan is rarely an advisable decision — after all, the last decade has been dominated by teams who have established winning cultures, not high lottery picks — but for a prospect like Cooper Flagg, it may just be worth it.

After averaging an astonishing 25.4 points, 13 rebounds, and 6.8 blocks per game at the EYBL Peach Jam, Flagg sprung out on the scene and began receiving national media coverage much earlier than expected. Following his impressive performance in Georgia, Flagg leaped up to the No. 2 spot in ESPN’s ranking of the 2025 recruiting class, behind only the son of former Chicago Bull Carlos Boozer, Cameron Boozer.

Flagg won’t have to compete for top honors in the class of 2025 anymore, however, as he has officially reclassified to move up a year and join the class of 2024. With a December birthday that just barely made the cut, Flagg now looks like the premiere prospect of ’24 despite being projected to be among the youngest players in the class.

Cooper Flagg is a prospect that makes considering a full-blown rebuild worth it for the Chicago Bulls.

By reclassifying up a draft class, Flagg is on track to be eligible for the 2025 NBA Draft. This will be a crucial year for the Bulls on their current timeline, as DeMar DeRozan’s contract is set to expire at the end of this season and if Chicago doesn’t reach their goals, it could mean this team is on a collision course with a proper rebuild.

Flagg would fit seamlessly on the Bulls roster, currently capable of holding down either of the forward positions. There’s always the possibility the 16-year-old phenom hits another growth spurt, thus allowing him the chance to log more minutes in the frontcourt as well. The Bulls may have already traded their 2025 first-round pick to San Antonio, but it’s top-10 protected in 2025 (as well as top-8 protected in 2026 and 2027) and won’t affect the Bulls here, as Flagg is certain to be a high lottery pick at worst if he keeps up his current pace.

I do believe it’s important for the Bulls to focus on this year first and foremost, as their performance this season will likely dictate DeRozan’s fate in Chicago and this team’s long-term direction. That being said, it’s hard to ignore the allure of a prospect as tantalizing as Flagg, and if this team isn’t actively working toward competing for championships, it may be worth shuffling the deck up to potentially draft a player that can carry the Bulls to that level.

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