NBA draft shaping up as weak at the top
No one is quite sure if the NBA draft will be held June 25 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but most of the top prospects have declared, so we do know the players who will be available.
When the NBA season was suspended, the Bulls had the league's seventh-worst record. So they could be looking at the No. 7 overall pick for the fourth straight year, although that could move in either direction at the draft lottery.
Already, it seems clear there are no surefire stars at the top of the draft like there were last year with Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. So, in theory, maybe this isn't the year to win the lottery, but who really knows?
Based on the Vegas odds that have been released, here's a quick rundown of 10 players the Bulls will likely be pondering in the draft. Most of these guys were not going to play in the NCAA Tournament, for a variety of reasons, so the evaluation period already was over for the most part:
Anthony Edwards, 6-5, shooting guard, Georgia
Edwards is a solidly built shooting guard at 225 pounds. He has nice athleticism and a variety to his offensive game. During his freshman season at Georgia, the Atlanta native averaged 19.1 points and 5.2 rebounds, while finishing close to even in assist (2.8) to turnover (2.7) ratio.
One significant downside is Edwards launched plenty of 3-pointers in college, nearly 8 per game, and shot a rancid 29.4 percent. Maybe he'll be a high-scoring shooting guard in the NBA, but becoming the next O.J. Mayo is another possibility.
James Wiseman, 7-1, center, Memphis
There's no doubt, Wiseman is the most athletic big man in this draft class. His body of work is limited because he played just three games at Memphis, since he was suspended by the NCAA for recruiting issues and left school.
Wiseman averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3 blocks in his three college games, but that's a little deceptive. He scored 28 points against South Carolina State and 14 against a ranked Oregon team. Wiseman figures to be a pretty good dunker and shot-blocker in the NBA. Everything else is a question mark.
LaMelo Ball, 6-7, point guard, Illawara Hawks
Basketball fans might remember the youngest of the three Ball brothers for his sophomore year at Chino Hills High School in California, when he was known to launch shots from half-court. Since then, he has played in Lithuania, at a prep school in Ohio and this past season in the Australian pro league.
These days, LaMelo resembles a taller version of his brother Lonzo. Passing was his best skill in Australia. His outside shot looks horrible and he connected on just 24 percent from 3-point land for Illawara on 7 attempts per game.
His body needs to fill out, but he showed some above-the-rim athleticism.
The good news is Ball played very well against grown men in the Australian league. One of his teammates was former Bulls guard Aaron Brooks. Ball played in only 12 games due to a foot injury but was named rookie of the year, averaging 17 points, 7 assists and 7.5 rebounds. He finished his season with a pair of triple-doubles.
Deni Avdija, 6-7, small forward, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Avdija is a player who does just about everything well. He can handle it, pass, cut and defend, while showing a high basketball IQ. Here's the catch: Playing for one of the most powerful teams in Europe, he didn't see a lot of court time. His highlight reel looks good, but he averaged just 4 points and 1 assist in EuroLeague play this season.
In the Israeli league games. Avdija played a little more and averaged 12.3 points in 21 games. He's not a great long-range shooter right now, but he did average 37.5 percent in the Israel League. Potential is why he's expected to go in the Top 10.
Obi Toppin, 6-9, power forward, Dayton
This is the one guy on this list who was hurt by losing the NCAA Tournament, since Dayton was projected to be a No. 1 seed. Toppin was the catalyst, averaging 20 points. 7.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks, while shooting 63 percent from the field. He's good at the rim and has an improving 3-point shot.
He could turn out to be a tough matchup at power forward in the NBA. At 22, he's a few years older than everyone else on this list. After getting no scholarship offers in high school, he did a graduate year, sat out as a freshman at Dayton for academic reasons, then played two seasons.
Onyeka Okongwu, 6-9, center, USC
The timing couldn't be better for this guy. Ordinarily, his game would scream "undersized center." But he's a great comp to Miami Heat all-star Bam Adebayo. In fact, Okongwu's lone season at USC was better than Adebayo's one-and-done year at Kentucky. Okongwu averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. Adebayo was 13 points, 8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
Okongwu played with the Ball brothers at Chino Hills and has called LaMelo his best friend, saying they talk daily.
Cole Anthony, 6-3, point guard, North Carolina
The son of one-time Bulls guard Greg Anthony, he averaged 18.5 points, 4 assists and 3.5 turnovers as a freshman. Anthony is regarded as a good defender but shot just 38 percent overall and 34.8 percent from 3-point range.
He missed 11 games at midseason due to arthroscopic knee surgery, and North Carolina finished with its second losing season in the last 60 years. The Tar Heels were 10-12 in the games Anthony played.
R.J. Hampton, 6-5, point guard, New Zealand Breakers
Another American who chose the Australian pro league over college, Hampton averaged 8.8 points and 2.4 assists in 15 games. He left New Zealand early with a hip injury. Hampton has good speed, so he's somewhat comparable to Sacramento Kings guard De'Aaron Fox, but seems to be a longer-term project.
Tyrese Haliburton, 6-5, shooting guard, Iowa State
Finally, a guy who can make 3-pointers. Haliburton averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds as a sophomore, before a broken wrist on Feb. 8 ended his season. The native of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, shot 41.9 percent from 3-point range, but his shooting form is a little strange, almost a set shot with his legs close together. With his long arms and thin frame, Haliburton will remind some of Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Killian Hayes, 6-5, point guard, Ratiopharm Ulm
Hayes was born in Florida, his dad DeRon Hayes an American who played at Penn State before starting a pro career overseas. Hayes grew up in France and moved to a club in Germany this season. He's a point guard who does a lot of things well and seems to have a good feel for the game.
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