The 2018-19 Bulls season has gotten off to worse than expected start. Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen both missed more than 20 games to start the season and as usual, over the last few years, Vice President John Paxson and General Manager Gar Forman seem to cause more problems for the franchise than they solve.
After getting off to a 5-19 start, the Bulls fired their hand-picked head coach Fred Hoiberg and named associate coach Jim Boylen the 23rd head coach of the Bulls. Now after a 10-33 start, the Bulls are currently the second-worst team in the NBA and according to tankathon.com, they have a 14 percent chance to get the first pick in the 2019 NBA draft and a 52.1 percent chance to secure a top-four pick.
With that being said, it’s time for Bulls fans to take a look at some of the top projected picks for the 2019 NBA draft.
Zion Williamson | Duke | 6’7” | Forward: If you haven’t heard of him or seen him play, you’re clearly living under multiple rocks. The 280-pound freshman plays with an attack the rim attitude similar to Russell Westbrook, but with the physique of Larry Johnson or perhaps Shawn Kemp. He brings relentless effort both offensively and defensively. Williamson is averaging 20.9 points a game and 9.5 rebounds. He has shown the ability to run the floor, block shots, and occasionally hit the three. He is the consensus number one overall pick at this moment.
RJ Barrett | Duke | 6’7” | Guard/Forward: Barrett, a freshman who can play at the two or the three, leads the Blue Devils in minutes per game (31.3), points per game (22.8), and is second on the team in assists per game (4.1). At 202 pounds, Barrett is a different style of player than Williamson, but can take over a game just as well. Barrett is sneaky good at getting to the hoop and can finish with both the left and right hand. He is also a more consistent three-point shooter than Williamson. The current mock draft from basketball insiders has the Chicago Bulls taking Barrett at the number three overall pick.
Cameron Reddish | Duke | 6’7” | Forward: Reddish appears to be playing third fiddle behind Williamson and Barret, but still averages nearly 13 points on just 23 minutes per game. With his seven-foot wingspan, Reddish is a strong defender, averaging two steals per game. He appears to have a tendency to settle for three point shots while playing with Williamson and Barret, but he is shooting 34 percent from behind the stripe. The ceiling for Reddish is extremely high and he is expected to be a top 5 pick in the draft, despite not putting up similar numbers to Williamson and Barret.
Keldon Johnson | Kentucky | 6’6” | Guard: Johnson is another player the Bulls could be eyeing early in the draft. The 210-pound shooting guard currently leads Kentucky in minutes played and points per game (15.6). He is also second best on the team in three-point percentage and was 6-7 from the long-range in a 24 point performance against Utah. Johnson is aggressive and willing to hustle on both ends of the floor. He can get to the rim and finish with strong dunks both off the dribble or in a put-back situation. He is climbing up many draft boards and still has a lot he can improve on moving forward.
Kevin Porter | USC | 6’7” | Guard: Porter is another athletic shooting guard projected to be a top-five NBA pick. He has sat out much of the season for the Trojans with a deep thigh bruise, but in his first five games, he was averaging 14 points in 25 minutes of play. Porter appears to be extremely quick off the dribble and can get to the rim with ease. Most scouts love his shot making ability but are growing concerned due to all the missed time.
Romeo Langford | Indiana | 6’6” | Guard: Langford currently leads the Hoosiers in points per game (18.2) and minutes per game (33.1). Langford shows a great ability to get to the hoop and make off balance shots with defenders in his face. Although Langford has a 50 percent field goal percentage on the year, he definitely needs to become a more consistent shooter from three-point range as he is shooting just 22.6 percent from deep. As an isolation player, Langford does have a tendency to turn the ball over, but scouts still love his ability to get to create shots and score.
Nassir Little | UNC | 6’6” | Forward: Despite not leading the Tar Heels in any statistical category, Little is still projected as a top five pick due to his strength, athleticism, and seven-foot wingspan. The 220-pound freshman is averaging 9.9 points per game and 4.3 rebound in just 19 minutes per game. Little is a highlight maker who can dunk from almost anywhere. NBA scouts love his ability to play through contact and his willingness to play tough defense against top players.
Ja Morant | Murray State | 6’3” | Guard: Morant, a sophomore, is a quick ball handler and scorer. Morant is averaging 23.5 points per game which is tenth best in the nation. He is also first in the country in assists at 10.5 per game. Playing at a smaller school like Murray State, many scouts are concerned with the competition he’s played against, but Morant responded to that criticism by scoring 25 points on the road at number seven Auburn while also adding eight rebounds and seven assists. Morant shows the ability to dribble through defensive switches to get to the rim and the vision to always find an open man. Morant’s major flaw is turnovers, averaging just over five a game but his dynamic scoring and passing ability is too much for the NBA to ignore.
Any one of these prospects could end up on the Bulls roster next season, but which one remains to be seen.
If the Bulls were to get the number three pick or later, I would like to see them take Nassir Little. However, if they get the number one or two pick, most experts believe the Bulls would take Barrett at two and Williamson at one. Regardless of what happens, the Bulls should have an extremely talented young roster going into 2019-2020 season and hopefully, that talent won’t be wasted once again.