Chicago Bulls go the safe, predictable route with Carter and Hutchison
This wasn't the biggest draft-night splash the Chicago Bulls could have made. The safe pick at No. 7, the predicted selection at No. 22.
But they ended up filling the two vacant spots in the rebuild, choosing Duke power forward Wendell Carter Jr. at No. 7, and Boise State small forward Chandler Hutchison at No. 22.
Neither player is considered an exceptional athlete by NBA standards. Carter wasn't his team's best low-post player. Hutchison shot just 35.9 percent from 3-point range last season.
This haul is not spectacular on paper, by any means, but who knows how it will all turn out in the long run?
When the Bulls' management team of John Paxson and Gar Forman met with reporters after the first round, they talked about how the 19-year-old Carter still has plenty of upside.
"In a lot of ways he didn't get to showcase so much of his game because when Marvin Bagley reclassified and signed at Duke late; a lot of their offense would have gone through Wendell this year had Marvin not gone there," Paxson said. "The young man sacrificed a lot in order to be a good teammate. A lot of it speaks to who he is.
"The character of the guys is really important to us. We want them to come in and fit in, be great teammates."
The Bulls tried to trade up from No. 7 and couldn't do it. Then they didn't want to take a chance on Michael Porter Jr.'s injured back. That's why Carter is considered something of a safe choice. Porter ended up falling to Denver with the No. 14 pick.
Paxson didn't want to comment on whether they thought Porter was too big of a risk and simply wished him the best in Denver.
Though somewhat overshadowed by Bagley during his freshman season at Duke, Carter did average 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds, while shooting 56 percent from the field.
The projection for Carter is he will be a solid inside defender and could develop into an outside shooter. The downside is he may not be well-suited to play defense on the perimeter, which could make him a bad fit against teams that play small lineups, which includes most of the league's best teams.
After his workout, a Bulls source agreed with the assessment that Carter isn't an exceptional athlete. Carter was asked about his lateral quickness when he spoke to reporters in Chicago by phone.
"I think I've made a huge improvement in that," Carter said. "It's something I was working on night in and night out, and I definitely showcased that in the workout. So it definitely paid off, all the lateral quickness, all those different things paid off for me."
Asked his thoughts about being considered a "safe" pick, Carter chose to take it as a compliment.
"It just shows all the dedication to playing this game paid off," he said. "To say I'm the safest pick, I'm going to come in and do what I have to do in order for the team to win. It shows that it just paid off and the Bulls recognized it, so I'm excited."
On the ESPN telecast, Chauncey Billups compared Carter to former Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer. Carter ran with that idea as well.
"I've heard that, for sure," he said. "Carlos Boozer was a great player and had a very long successful career in the NBA, which I see myself doing."
Carter is an Atlanta native who seriously considered attending Harvard before settling on Duke. Both his parents played college basketball -- his mom, Kylia, at Mississippi and father, Wendell Sr., at Delta State.
With the 22nd pick, the Bulls proved the rumors were true and chose the 6-7 Hutchison. Since Hutchison left the NBA combine in Chicago early last month, there has been talk the Bulls promised to take him with their second first-round pick.
Hutchison is a four-year college player who didn't do much during his first two years, then averaged 20 points and 7.7 rebounds as a senior. The Southern California native shot 35.9 percent from 3-point range and was more effective driving to the basket.
Paxson wouldn't confirm or deny a promise was made to Hutchison.
"We like Chandler a lot," Paxson said. "We scouted him early, we scouted him often. We had our eye on him. He knew we liked him. Most players know when you like them, when you show up a lot and you're around."
The one surprise early in the draft was Dallas working a trade with Atlanta to land European shooting guard Luka Doncic, while the Hawks will get Oklahoma guard Trae Young, who was chosen with the fifth pick. Reports had the Bulls talking to Atlanta, but the Hawks likely were concerned Young would be taken by Orlando at No. 6.
As expected, Arizona's DeAndre Ayton went first to Phoenix and Bagley second to Sacramento. Texas center Mo Bamba went sixth to Orlando.
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