Chicago Bulls' best available at No. 4 may be a big man

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2020, file photo, Dayton's Obi Toppin dunks during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Duquesne in Dayton, Ohio. Toppin is a potential lottery pick in next week's NBA draft after being named The Associated Press men's college basketball player of the year last season.

    FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2020, file photo, Dayton's Obi Toppin dunks during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Duquesne in Dayton, Ohio. Toppin is a potential lottery pick in next week's NBA draft after being named The Associated Press men's college basketball player of the year last season.

 
 
Updated 11/16/2020 8:00 PM

New Bulls director of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has said he plans to choose the best player available in Wednesday's NBA draft.

And that's what he should do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

No team in NBA history has ever drafted five players who grew into a championship contender by themselves, so there's no reason for the 22-win Bulls to give any thought to need. The goal is to draft a great player.

With the No. 4 pick, Karnisovas and crew should give serious thought to a few big men. In most mock drafts, there are three bigs going in the lottery. One is Memphis' James Wiseman, who is widely projected to go second to Golden State.

Then there's Dayton's Obi Toppin and USC's Onyeka Okongwu, who are likely to be there when the Bulls select. These two guys could impact the Bulls' selection in a variety of ways.

Guard-heavy Charlotte could decide to take a big with the third pick, which means someone projected in the top three would drop to the Bulls. Or with fewer bigs available, maybe some teams will make trade offers for the No. 4.

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The Bulls should be taking long looks at both Toppin and Okongwu, because it's possible they'll turn out to be better players than what the Bulls already have.

Okongwu has an obvious comparison in the NBA. He even admitted during a Zoom call with NBA reporters this week he patterns his game after Miami all-star Bam Adebayo.

The 6-foot-10 Okongwu is a great athlete and was one of the best shot-blockers in college basketball last year. He averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks during his freshman season. He's not a long-range shooter but showed nice form at the free-throw line.

Okongwu was a high school teammate of possible top pick LaMelo Ball, at least until Ball bailed out on high school life and went to Lithuania. As a freshman, Okongwu played on the Chino Hills state championship team with all three Ball brothers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It was fun playing with the Ball brothers," Okongwu said. "I've known the Ball brothers since I was 10 years old. I remember me and 'Melo used to watch Chino Hills play all the time with my older brother and Lonzo (Ball) on the team.

"Playing with them, I just learned how to rebound a lot, defend a lot, block a lot of shots, rim-run. So all the things I learned from my first two years translated to the rest of my life playing basketball."

Toppin, meanwhile, is a unique talent. He scores effortlessly around the rim, sort of like a peak-era Al Jefferson, but can also shoot it well from 3-point land and has the bounce to be constant threat for the lob dunk.

Most questions about Toppin concern whether he has the defensive chops to stay on the floor, since he doesn't have the length to guard near the rim or the foot speed to stay in front of people on the perimeter, in theory. But offensive skills like his don't show up very often.

Toppin, 22, was likely the player most harmed by cancellation of the NCAA Tournament, since he had Dayton positioned as a likely No. 1 seed. The New York native averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds last year as a sophomore. He shot 70-percent from 2-point range last season and 41.7 percent from 3 over his two years in college.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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