As I’m sure you know by now, the lottery wasn’t as kind to the Bulls as we hoped.
Despite having a fighters chance of getting a top-3 pick in next month’s draft, the Bulls were unable to improve on there draft position from last season, when they drafted 7th after trading Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves.
The result is disappointing, but just *how* disappointed should we be?
Well, you be the judge. Here are the last 10 players taken with the 7th pick.
Last 10 players to go 7th in the NBA Draft:
— Joe Ostrowski (@JoeO670) May 16, 2018
The whole point of the tank was to put the team in a position to draft a future #1 player. As you can see, Steph Curry is the only player on this list who fits that description.
However, with the proper perspective, one can still find optimism with the Bulls’ draft situation.
WHO ARE THE BULLS MISSING OUT ON?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There doesn’t appear to be a franchise-altering, future #1 option on a title contender in this draft. It’s a class dominated by big men entering a league dominated on the perimeter. The draft’s top offensive prospect, Michael Porter Jr., is coming back off a major back surgery that’s likely to cause lingering complications. Luka Doncic is the best player in Europe at only 19 years old, but we’ve heard the “He’s the next sure thing from Europe!” story before, and it usually doesn’t have a happy ending.
JOHN PAXSON HAS A GOOD TRACK RECORD PICKING 7th
This will be the fourth time in the last 15 years that the Bulls will be drafting 7th. John Paxson’s first draft pick as general manager was the 7th pick in 2003, when they drafted Kirk Hinrich.
While I wasn’t the biggest Captain Kirk fan, especially during his second tenure with the team, the point guard from Kansas had a long and productive career. He posted three straight seasons of at least 15 points and 6 assists a game while making an NBA all-defense team in 2007 and shot a career 37.5% from three.
Just a year after taking Hinrich, Paxson traded up and drafted an 18-year-old forward from Duke by the name of Luol Deng. I’m pretty sure you remember him.
It took a while for Deng to establish himself, mostly because of injuries, but by the time Thom Thibedeau took over Deng was able to establish himself as top 30 player in the league for a brief period of time.
Deng was the clear-cut second best player during the Bulls 2011 ECF run, and he made the all-star team the next two seasons and found himself on the 2012 NBA all-defense team. The nine-plus years Deng spent in the Windy City were filled with fond memories, largely due to his performance.
While Deng, and to a lesser extent Hinrich, were hits with the #7 pick, it’s possible that last year’s #7 pick Lauri Markkanen ends up having a better career than both of them.
We’ve already seen the Finnish rookie showcase the ability to do so many different things well on the court, and he’s only going to get better. Also, for what it’s worth, the Markkanen pick was considered a pretty blah selection heading into last season.
Going back to the last 10 players taken with the number 7 pick, there have been more above average starters selected than there have been busts. Markkanen, Jamal Murray and Julius Randle appear to be on their way to successful careers. Harrison Barnes was starting for a championship team by his third year and has averaged 19 points a game over the last two seasons. Eric Gordon, in his 11th season, is the third leading scorer on a 65 win team. Greg Monroe averaged over 15 points in five consecutive seasons.
There are reasons to be optimistic. You just have to look at the glass as half-full.