Bulls catch a break, move up to No. 4 slot in draft lottery
The road to a more successful rebuild starts with small victories.
The Bulls got one at Thursday's NBA Draft lottery, when they moved up to the No. 4 pick and will avoid selecting seventh for the fourth straight year.
"I don't think you address needs at the four, you get the best talent," Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said via Zoom call. "That's what we're going to be looking for with the highest upside player."
The Oct. 16 NBA Draft will essentially be Karnisovas' first chance to improve the Bulls' roster, though it's possible trades or decisions on qualifying offers could happen before then.
During the past basketball season, Karnisovas was working for the Denver Nuggets, but he always made a point of watching draft prospects live, so he should be prepared.
"No matter the position, I always scouted live and wanted always to see a player at least twice during the year," Karnisovas said. "Besides the video, besides the interviewing, besides seeing them in combine and bringing them in for workouts before the draft, I like live scouting. I like to see prospects live.
"No matter what, you've got to go see them. It's going to be limited time now because you don't see them fresh. We haven't played basketball since March, so it's going to be a little bit more difficult."
This will be the Bulls' highest draft pick since they landed Derrick Rose first overall in 2008. When Karnisovas worked in Denver, the Nuggets had the No. 7 pick twice, choosing Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay.
The NBA is expected to announce plans for a virtual draft combine this year and Karnisovas feels it's unlikely they'll be able to bring players to Chicago for predraft workouts. He said the Bulls have interviewed some draft prospects already.
"By moving to four, obviously the group is going to get smaller," Karnisovas said. "However, I think going from team to team, the consensus is going to be very different. People are going to have different evaluations of each and opinion's going to vary. There's a lot of opportunity in that environment, I think. Hopefully at four, we're going to get a very good player."
In the past week, the Bulls fired coach Jim Boylen and were given the green light to hold three weeks of team workouts at the Advocate Center from Sept. 14 through Oct. 6.
Karnisovas said there's no goal of hiring a new coach before the camp begins. He also confirmed there have been no coaching interviews yet.
"First of all, we're excited to get those activities," Karnisovas said. "Players that I talked to, they miss group workouts and that's going to be presented. We're not going to put pressure on ourselves to hire a coach by then. If that happens, it happens, but we're not going to insist on that."
Minnesota landed the top pick for the second time in six years, followed by Golden State at No. 2. Those teams shared the best lottery odds, along with Cleveland, which dropped to No. 5.
Charlotte will have the third pick after moving up five spots, a bigger jump that the Bulls.
Here's an early look at the potential mock draft among lottery teams:
1. Minnesota: Anthony Edwards, 6-5, SG, Georgia
2. Golden State: James Wiseman, 7-1, C, Memphis
3. Charlotte: LaMelo Ball, 6-8, PG, Illawarra Hawks
4. BULLS: Deni Avdija, 6-9, SF, Israel
5. Cleveland: Obi Toppin, 6-9, PF, Dayton
6. Atlanta: Onyeka Okongwu, 6-9, PF, USC
7. Detroit: Killian Hayes, 6-5, PG, France
8. New York: Isaac Okoro, 6-6. SF, Auburn
9. Washington: Precious Achiuwa, 6-9, SF, Memphis
10. Phoenix: Tyrese Haliburton, 6-5, SG, Iowa State
11. San Antonio: Devin Vassell, 6-7, SG, Florida St.
12. Sacramento: Patrick Williams, 6-7, SF, Florida St.
13. New Orleans: Aaron Nesmith, 6-6, SG, Vanderbilt
14. Boston (from Memphis): Tyrese Maxey, 6-2, SG, Kentucky