Bulls hope to avoid unlucky No. 7 at draft lottery
Typically, when a team hires a new chief executive, it's a high-profile, major event with dozens of cameras and reporters on hand.
Due to the pandemic, Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has been largely out of sight since taking the job in April. Even the occasional Zoom calls with reporters have been held with no video.
That all changes Thursday when Karnisovas represents the Bulls at the 2020 NBA Draft lottery. It will also be the first glance at his first major player-personnel decision at his new job, deciding what to do with the Bulls' first-round pick on Oct. 16.
The Bulls are hoping not to pick seventh for the fourth consecutive season, but that's where they'll line up at the start. The Bulls have the seventh-best chance at landing the No. 1 overall pick, with 7.5 percent of the lottery ball combinations.
Last year, the team with the seventh-worst record was New Orleans, which won the top pick and chose Zion Williamson. Memphis was the eighth-worst team and chose second. The Bulls, with the league's fourth-worst record, dropped three spots to No. 7.
So maybe the Bulls are overdue for some good luck. Or maybe they'll continue to be punished by the lottery gods for choosing to be bad a few years ago.
The NBA redesigned the lottery odds last year to give teams less incentive to tank. So a team at No. 7 like the Bulls has better odds now than it used to.
The draft lottery was held in Chicago the past two years. There will be no stage filled with interested participants this time. The team representatives will be on camera, much like the virtual fans in the Orlando bubble. The results will be announced by deputy commissioner Mark Tatum from the league's offices in New Jersey.
There doesn't appear to be a consensus top pick at the moment, though the main candidates are 6-7 guard LaMelo Ball, who played in Australia last season; Georgia 6-5 shooting guard Anthony Edwards, and 7-1 center James Wiseman, who played briefly at Memphis.
The draft order figures to be fluid well into October. Multiskilled 6-9 forward Deni Avdija, for example, probably took a jump with his strong performance in the Israeli league playoffs, which happened after a pandemic hiatus.
This draft is strong on power forwards, a position that does not fill a Bulls need. That includes USC's Onyeka Okongwu, who played with the Ball brothers at Chino Hills (Calif.) High School; and Dayton's Obi Toppin.
The best small forward types are Auburn's Isaac Okoro, Memphis' Precious Achiuwa, Vanderbilt's Aaron Nesmith and Florida State's Devin Vassell.
The lottery is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Central time, though the time could be approximate since it follows the Milwaukee-Orlando playoff game on ESPN.
The list of team representatives includes new Knicks boss Leon Rose, and several players, including Golden State's Steph Curry and Minnesota's D'Angelo Russell.