Who will the Chicago Bulls select with the No. 18 pick in the NBA draft? Here are 5 options. – The Mercury News

Who will the Chicago Bulls select with the No. 18 pick in the NBA draft? Here are 5 options. – The Mercury News

It’s nearly time for the NBA draft and the Chicago Bulls are positioned to build on last season’s playoff turn up with the No. 18 pick.

The draft has been a basic building block for the Bulls, whose recent selections of Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams produced a new young chief. So who will join the group alongside DeMar DeRozan and company?

Who have the Bulls chosen recently?

  • 2021: Ayo Dosunmu (No. 38 pick)
  • 2020: Patrick Williams (No. 4) and Marko Simonović (No. 44)
  • 2019: Coby White (No. 7) and Daniel Gafford (No. 38)
  • 2018: Wendell Carter Jr. (No. 7) and Chandler Hutchison (No. 22)
  • 2017: Justin Patton (No. 16, traded with Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen) and Jordan Bell (No. 38, traded to the Golden State Warriors for cash considerations)

Will the Bulls keep their pick?

The No. 18 pick is slightly lower-hanging fruit than the first 10 slots in the draft, but it nevertheless is a high enough position to select an impact player — or to leverage an effective trade for immediate payoff in the 2022-23 season.

Heading into the offseason, executive vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas emphasized the Bulls are focused on keeping Zach LaVine in Chicago and making auxiliary trades to sustain the current All-Star chief.

That doesn’t average a blockbuster trade is completely off the table, but the Bulls would be more likely to package the pick with a bench player such as Coby White to make a meaningful trade.

The Bulls could find thoroughness in this year’s draft, which is steeped with enough talent to make already the lowest first-round picks keep alluring.

Who are some options for the Bulls at No. 18?

Mark Williams

  • Age: 20
  • Position: Center
  • School: Duke
  • Height: 7-foot-2
  • Weight: 242

A powerful center who carves out a presence around the rim, Williams could be an immediate answer for the Bulls after a season desperately lacking size and strength in the paint. The biggest question is whether Williams will fall this low — he is a hot prospect after recording the longest wingspan at the combine (7-foot-7) and breaking a Duke field-goal percentage record (72.1% on 265 attempts).

E.J. Liddell

  • Age: 21
  • Position: Forward
  • School: Ohio State
  • Height: 6-foot-7
  • Weight: 243

A lengthy forward with perimeter shooting range, Liddell could slot in as a role player after three seasons with Ohio State. Liddell’s most important asset for the Bulls would be interior defense, where he can provide shot blocking and size to back up Nikola Vučević.

The fact Liddell grew up downstate in Belleville only adds to the Bulls’ recent effort to bring in Illinois talent like Dosunmu.

Jeremy Sochan

  • Age: 19
  • Position: Forward
  • School: Baylor
  • Height: 6-foot-9
  • Weight: 230

Another defense-first forward to keep an eye on is Sochan, who made an impact on the Baylor front court during his only NCAA season. Sochan’s stock has been soaring since the combine — during which he named Draymond Green and Jrue Holiday as inspirations — so he might not be obtainable when the Bulls make their pick. But if they can snatch him up, Sochan wouldimmediately impact a defense that needs reinforcement.

Jalen Williams

  • Age: 21
  • Position: Guard/Forward
  • School: Santa Clara
  • Height: 6-foot-6
  • Weight: 209 pounds

If the Bulls don’t look for size in their draft selection, they could target a wing player with the versatility to slot in behind LaVine. Williams would be an obvious choice — a playmaking guard who averaged 18 points per game on 39.6% 3-point shooting for Santa Clara last season. Although he’s a little undersized, Williams would help the guard rotation.

Ochai Agbaji

  • Age: 22
  • Position: Guard/Forward
  • School: Kansas
  • Height: 6-foot-6
  • Weight: 215 pounds

If the Bulls want to add a versatile guard, look no further than a recent national champion who finished his final season with Kansas as Big 12 Player of the Year and Most noticeable Player of the NCAA Tournament. Agbaji is one of the more veteran players coming by the draft, and he consistently improved his shooting (averaging 18.8 points per game last season) and playmaking throughout his four-year career. That growth will need to continue to carve out a place in the NBA, but Agbaji’s versatility and defense on the wing could add a rotational improvement with a high ceiling for the future.


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