With no obvious choice at No. 4, Bulls have their work cut out on draft night

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Deni Avdija

    Deni Avdija

  • 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. Associated Press

  • File-This April 22, 2017, file photo shows Cholet's Killian Hayes shooting during the French Cup under-17 final between Cholet and Chalon-sur-Saone in Paris. Most NBA fans are just now learning the name Killian Hayes. The 19-year-old French-American point guard will likely be a top 5 pick in Wednesday night's draft. The shifty 6-foot-5 lefty is among several international prospects that will be drafted, including Deni Avdija, Israel; Théo Maledon, France; Leandro Bolmaro, Argentina; and Aleksej Pokusevski, Serbia.

    File-This April 22, 2017, file photo shows Cholet's Killian Hayes shooting during the French Cup under-17 final between Cholet and Chalon-sur-Saone in Paris. Most NBA fans are just now learning the name Killian Hayes. The 19-year-old French-American point guard will likely be a top 5 pick in Wednesday night's draft. The shifty 6-foot-5 lefty is among several international prospects that will be drafted, including Deni Avdija, Israel; Théo Maledon, France; Leandro Bolmaro, Argentina; and Aleksej Pokusevski, Serbia. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/17/2020 8:01 PM

If the top three selections in Wednesday's NBA Draft go as expected, then the Bulls with the No. 4 pick will be behind the wheel, driving the draft.

And there are a wide, wide variety of paths to choose.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Ever since the lottery, the most common prediction for the Bulls is 6-foot-9 forward Deni Avdija from Israel. He's certainly an intriguing, multiskilled prospect.

Here's one way to describe Avdija: If someone cloned a mix of Dallas' Luka Doncic and Denver's Nikola Jokic, they might end up with Avdija. Doncic and Jokic are two of the NBA's premier international stars, and like those two players, Avdija has impressive court vision and feel for the game.

But here's the thing. The midpoint between Doncic, a high-scoring point guard, and Jokic, a burly center, is a tweener like Avdija, who doesn't seem to fit snugly at either forward spot.

Avdija, 19, barely played for Macabbi Tel Aviv in EuroLeague games last season and most of his highlights came in the inferior Israel league. He's an impressive player, but by no means a sure bet to succeed in the NBA.

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So the feeling here is the Bulls might swing in a different direction and try to find a player with a safer upside. A couple of candidates are Dayton's Obi Toppin and Florida State's Patrick Williams.

Williams has been a later-riser, according to many draft forecasters. He's an athletic, 6-8 forward with a chance to be an elite defender. He carries a nice shooting touch, although his scoring skills are a work in progress. He seems to fit the mold of Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown in Boston.

The Bulls sorely lacked athleticism and toughness last season and Williams could provide a boost in those categories from Day 1.

Toppin is probably a power forward in the NBA, so he's not an ideal fit on the Bulls right now with Lauri Markkanen. But the Bulls should be going after the best player available and Toppin has a skillset seldom seen in the draft. Last year at Dayton, he could score with ease in the post, shoot well from 3-point range and had enough bounce to be an above-the-rim lob threat.

There are other players that make sense. The Bulls could use a playmaking guard, so Iowa State's Tyrese Haliburton or U.S.-born, France-raised Killian Hayes would fit, although the Bulls might eventually seek a veteran for that role.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Another late-rising point guard, Alabama's Kira Lewis Jr., said he worked out for the Bulls. Are there teams in the 6 to 14 range willing to trade up to No. 4? Who knows?

An argument could be made that USC center Onyeka Okongwu is an upgrade over Wendell Carter Jr., so he's a player to consider. And if the Bulls are planning to part ways with their best defenders from last year's squad, Kris Dunn and Shaq Harrison, then athletic Auburn wing Isaac Okoro would make sense.

Williams checks a lot of boxes. He could bring defense, scoring, rim protection and athleticism. Toppin is 22 and NBA teams tend to shy away from older prospects, but he could be a guy who contributes immediately if his college skills translate. Then Avdija is certainly in the mix.

Meanwhile, the shortened NBA offseason has done nothing to slow down trade activity. Nothing is official yet, but there's already been reports of Milwaukee adding Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovich, the Lakers getting OKC guard Dennis Schroder, Portland adding Chicago native Robert Covington from Houston, and both James Harden and Russell Westbrook requesting trades.

The Bulls figure to stay relatively intact while they assess the young players and get ready for bold moves in 2021, after the bloated contracts of Otto Porter and Cristiano Felico expire. But maybe with all this activity going on, an unexpected opportunity will arise.

This is also the first night in the spotlight for the Bulls' new basketball operations team of Arturas Karnisovas. Marc Eversley and head coach Billy Donovan.

It should be an interesting night for the Bulls, and the rest of the league will be waiting anxiously for their decision.

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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