Steal of the Draft? Grade for Bulls' pick of Matas Buzelis

2024 NBA Draft - Round One
2024 NBA Draft - Round One / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Chicago Bulls have been reluctant to embrace the future, but that’s exactly what they did by choosing Matas Buzelis with the 11th pick. 

It was a choice that could end up being a gift for the Bulls, as Buzelis was ranked higher by many draft gurus and has the makeup of a potential star if things fall into place. 

It was a rare high-upside move for a team that has long been stuck in the middle, and it could be a sign that the Bulls are finally going to rebuild. 

Or not. 

Chicago Bulls may try to thread a difficult needle after drafting Matas Buzelis 

A young core of Coby White, Josh Giddey, Matas Buzelis, Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams has potential, but will the Bulls fully embrace that or try to have the best of both worlds? 

That would mean bringing back DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic in an ill-fated effort to be good now while also building for the future. 

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It could work, as Buzelis is a project and both Giddey and Williams are still very young with plenty of room and talent to improve. Playing with veterans and trying to win may limit minutes for the young players but at least they’d be on a team trying to win and play meaningful games. 

The counterargument is that it takes away from their development for the possibility of being the 10 seed again and having no financial flexibility.

The Bulls would be better served by jettisoning DeRozan, LaVine and Vucevic in whatever ways they can, being bad for one season, keeping their pick in a better draft and starting with the above core, the 2025 pick and a ton of cap space. 

The Chicago Bulls got a high-upside pick in Matas Buzelis: Grade

I love this pick for Chicago. Buzelis is a big wing who can jump out of the gym. At 6-foot-10, he’s a problem with the ball in his hands and is already a good weakside shot blocker and an emerging on-the-ball defender. 

The red flags on Buzelis are that he shot the 3-ball poorly last season in the G-League and turns the ball over too much with sloppy handles and poor decisions in traffic. 

But the tools are there, so if his shot comes around, the Bulls could have landed a two-way star that many teams are going to regret passing on. 

It doesn’t hurt that Buzelis is from Chicago and wanted to come to the Bulls. He’ll be a fan favorite right away and a guy the city will embrace if he’s good. He’s already been calling out #1 pick Zaccharie Risacher, so is coming into the league with a chip on his shoulder ready to prove himself. 

The 11th pick in this draft (and all drafts) was always going to be a crapshoot, but the Bulls at least took a flyer on a high upside guy instead of reaching for fit or a player who might be able to help them sooner. 

Grade: A-