The Chicago Bulls had lady luck on their side in 2008 when they secured the #1 overall pick, landing them Derrick Rose. Since then though their lottery fortunes have sunk to the bottom with three-straight years ending up with the #7 overall pick. Their odds for 2020 aren’t great but perhaps it could be different this time around. So why not ask the question. Who do the Bulls take if they somehow land that coveted top pick?
Right now it seems like the general consensus is the top of the draft has come down to three players. There is Georgia guard Anthony Edwards. At 6’5 he is a tremendous scorer who has drawn tons of comparisons to Dwyane Wade. Then there’s LaMelo Ball, a supreme facilitating point guard with 6’7 size. Rare for his position. Then there is James Wiseman, a ridiculously athletic center who can shoot and attack the basket while great size at 7’1 allows him to protect the rim as well.
Any one of those guys would look sharp in a Bulls uniform for different reasons. So who should be the choice if VP Arturas Karnisovas holds that pick? It’s not an easy choice, but taking all things into consideration it’s a pretty clear decision.
Chicago Bulls have to take the risk on James Wiseman
Here’s the thing. Ball and Edwards could be considered safer picks for various reasons. One would think Karnisovas might not want to take a risk with his very first draft pick. The problem is Wiseman is a rare commodity. There are few athletes above 7’0 who can move and jump like him. He can attack the rim and shows a shooting touch beyond just inside the paint. Here’s a glowing review he got from Jonathan Givony of ESPN.
“Incredible frame standing over 7-feet in shoes and 250 pounds with a 7-5 wingspan and gigantic standing reach. Exceptional athlete for his size in terms of his ability to get up and down the floor, cover ground and elevate around the rim quickly with explosiveness and power. Has a good skill set. Agile in the post and as a pick-and-roll finisher with impressive body control.
Capable of handling and creating for himself. Shows some creativity with his footwork. Has a soft touch around the rim and even extending out to 3. Impact player as a rim protector when locked in and operating at maximum intensity thanks to his reach, timing and quickness. Also capable of switching on the perimeter with excellent mobility.”
So what are the concerns?
At 19-years old, his all-around game is raw. His passing and defense are both works in progress. He also has a tendency to take his foot off the gas at times. All valid issues but also things that can be corrected over time. Then there was the scandal at Memphis. Wiseman was suspended towards the end of 2019 due to allegations that head coach Penny Hardaway paid over $11,000 to help the kid move to the city back in 2017.
After initially fighting the NCAA who ruled him ineligible, Wiseman was given a choice. Serve a 12-game suspension and donate the money he received to charity or remain on the shelf. Rather than play the charade out, Wiseman chose to hire an agent and declare for the draft. He later called the saga “heartbreaking” and accused the NCAA of leaving him in the dark through most of the process. He found out about the suspension at the last minute.
Never mind his inability to give the money back. So rather than risk injury and financial debt, he decided to go pro. He only played three games for Memphis. Two of which resulted in double-doubles. A tantalizing glimpse of what he’s capable of.
While the NBA is different today than years past, the reality is teams that feature great centers still tend to win a lot of basketball games. Karnisovas knows this well, having watched Nikola Jokic change the fortunes of the Denver Nuggets. Putting Wiseman in the middle with Zach Lavine and Coby White on the perimeter could create some serious problems for opposing teams.
With how weak the Chicago Bulls are in the paint, it just makes too much sense.