Playing the numbers game to increase the odds of winning the NBA Draft Lottery is no longer a viable option, it seems, and the Chicago Bulls are once again hoping that pick No. 7 can play into their favor.
Just as the NBA Board of Governors had hoped, the advent of the reformed draft lottery system has made it no longer as efficient to “tank” for a higher chance to secure the No. 1 overall pick.
“NBA Draft Lottery reform is a meaningful step in our continuous effort to enhance the quality of our games,” said President of NBA League Operations Byron Spruell, “These changes were necessary to improve the competitive incentives for our teams.”
In previous years, the franchise with the worst overall record had a 25 percent chance to secure the first overall pick. But the 2019 offseason saw the chances of the top-three front runners equalize to a 14 percent spread.
There was only a 16.8 percent chance that Chicago fell to No. 7, but when they did, it left an already hurting fanbase feeling nearly hopeless.
It’s the third straight year that Chicago has fallen to this position. The previous two years led to the selection of center Wendell Carter Jr., and Lauri Markkanen — as a result of the Butler trade — but this year’s draft class doesn’t feel as promising.
To make the best out of an unfavorable situation, the Chicago Bulls, specifically Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson, will have to maneuver a little more than expected.
The roster is in serious need of a point guard.
After initially supporting current starter Kris Dunn, Paxson took a confusing 180-degree turn, and echoed the sentiment.
“We feel at the 2, 3, 4, 5 spots, we’re really solid,” quipped Paxson, “and I’m confident that we’ll find a player in this draft that fits us and suits us.”
If the Chicago Bulls land the No. 3-6 Pick in Draft they will reach out to the Lakers regarding a potential trade for Lonzo Ball, per @Suntimes.— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 14, 2019
Coby White, who broke Michael Jordan’s UNC Freshman scoring record, could be a strong offensive and developmental piece. There’s also Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland, if he falls that far, but his meniscus injury that occurred in late 2018 does raise concerns about performance and longevity.
Either choice would be optimal. In theory, it allows Zach LaVine to return to his natural position at guard. Addressing the depth issues that Chicago has at the wing.
“We are confident we will get a player we can add. This is about building a team. I am always confident we’re going to find value where we draft.” – EVP of Basketball Operations, John Paxson— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) May 15, 2019
There’s also a small chance that the Bulls pick up the Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke.
With only two years remaining in Otto Porter Jr.’s current contract with Chicago, before he becomes an unrestricted free agent, Clarke’s already impressive offensive skills could be improved while strengthening other areas of his game during time as a backup.
A Veteran Presence
Paxson didn’t only express disappointment in the draft lottery results. He also made it clear that he wants to make moves in free agency.
“We’re gonna go out and try to spend some money in free agency,” said Paxson, “we’re gonna add some vets that can help the team.”
If Paxson is sincere with his statement, then Terry Rozier and Patrick Beverley are likely at the top of the Bull’s free agency list.
Beverley has shown expressions of interest towards the Bulls. While he’s somewhat older, the two-time all-defensive point guard could be a strong starter and defensive presence.
Rozier, who became a restricted free agent this offseason, has shown his dissatisfaction with the Celtics. Citing the relationship the franchise has with Hayward and Irving as a major issue. At only 25, he could provide much needed support at the point guard position for the long term.
Either maneuver could be beneficial if Chicago keeps their pick and selects a point guard. It would allow Coby White to improve on other aspects of his game or give Darius Garland the chance to rehabilitate within a comfortable time frame.
When it comes down to it, the offseason rests on the unpredictable shoulders of John Paxson and company. One can only hope that they’re playing chess instead of checkers.