With Bulls adding another first-round pick, time to update the draft watch
The Bulls most likely doubled their first-round draft picks for 2018 with Thursday's trade, which sent Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans.
The Pelicans pick is top-5 protected in 2018, but considering how it would be either No. 17 or 18 right now, there's an excellent chance the Bulls collect this year.
So it's time to update the Bulls' draft watch, for a couple of reasons. They now (probably) have two first-rounders, but also the last time we looked at the draft, the Bulls had the NBA's worst record, so we focused on the projected top five guys.
Then the Bulls made their surprising run and moved up in the standings. They're back in a slump now that Kris Dunn is sidelined, but it's possible he'll come back and correct the course. As of Friday morning, the Bulls were tied with Memphis for the league's sixth-worst record.
The top five in November were Arizona center DeAndre Ayton, Duke power forward Marvin Bagley, Real Madrid swingman Luka Doncic, injured Missouri forward Michael Porter and Texas center Mo Bamba. Even that list has changed, since Oklahoma guard Trae Young has burst onto the scene, averaging 30.3 points this season. All of those college players are freshmen, but that probably goes without saying these days.
Ayton and Bagley would look great on the Bulls, but those big men seem to be a solid 1-2 right now. With a nucleus of Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen, the Bulls' needs are an athletic, defensive-minded small forward and a center who can protect the rim, shoot 3s or possibly both. If the Bulls end up at 6 or 7, they may get to choose between Bamba -- averaging 14.2 points, 11.7 rebounds and nearly 5 blocks per game in Big 12 play -- or these guys:
Jaren Jackson Jr., 6-11, C, Michigan State: The Bulls will get to know this guy well, since his travel roommate is Jack Hoiberg, son of the Bulls head coach. Jackson's father was an NBA journeyman for 13 seasons and has coached in the G League.
Jackson seemed to rise in the mock drafts after his 21 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks at Illinois on Jan. 22. He's a versatile big man who can block shots and shoot 3s. Foul trouble has been an issue.
Wendell Carter Jr., 6-10, PF, Duke: He's been overshadowed by Bagley, but is a promising big man himself. Carter is averaging 15 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in the ACC. He's also shot 40 percent from 3-point range on limited tries.
Kevin Knox, 6-9, SF, Kentucky: Long versatile forward turned up his game with 34 points at West Virginia last week and has hit 10 of 18 3-pointers in his last two games.
Mikal Bridges, 6-7, SF, Villanova: This seems like the Bulls' kind of guy. He's a junior who played a defensive role on Nova's national championship team and now is averaging 16.9 points, while shooting 43 percent from 3-point land.
So the guys listed above are projected as possibilities in the 6-11 range, where the Bulls could end up with their own pick. With Dunn already on the roster, it doesn't seem likely they'd take someone like Alabama point guard Collin Sexton. Here's a look at some players who may be on the Bulls' list with the New Orleans pick:
Jarred Vanderbilt, 6-9, SF/PF, Kentucky: He has similar size and skills as Knox, but missed the start of the season with a foot injury. He's played limited minutes in five games so far.
Mitchell Robinson, 7-0, C, no college: Robinson is an intriguing 7-footer who signed with Western Kentucky then decided to drop out of school and prepare for the draft without playing in a game. There's plenty of video of him dunking on shorter AAU opponents, but tough to get much of a read.
Omer Yurtseven, 7-0, C, North Carolina State: A 7-footer from Turkey and a sophomore, he doesn't have especially quick feet, but does very well as a spot-up shooter. He hasn't gotten many 3-point attempts this season, but has hit 13 of 25.
Brandon McCoy, 7-1, C, UNLV: Born in Chicago, went to high school in San Diego, McCoy is an athletic big man posting decent numbers in the Mountain West, averaging 17.7 points and 10.1 rebounds. He doesn't take many outside shots and isn't an overwhelming shot blocker.
Miles Bridges, 6-7, SF, Michigan State: His stock seems to be dropping, so maybe he could fall to the New Orleans range. Athletic forward has been an inconsistent outside shooter during his sophomore year.