Arturas Karnisovas has been working feverishly to overhaul the Bulls since being hired back in April. He fired Gar Forman, former head coach Jim Boylen, and most of his assistants. He hired Marc Eversley as the new Bulls general manager and hired the widely respected Billy Donovan as a head coach. Donovan compiled a fantastic staff featuring Maurice Cheeks, Josh Longstaff, John Bryant, Damian Cotter and Billy Schmidt alongside the retained Chris Fleming. Arturas went on to extend the qualifying offer to the maligned (and beloved by myself and at least See Red Fred) Denzel Valentine and two-way player Adam Mokoka and rescinded qualifying offers for Kris Dunn and Shaq Harrison. Heading into the draft, Arturas was pitching a perfect game. Could his hot streak continue?
The Bulls landed a high lottery pick, number four, in a relatively weak draft. The top three played out somewhat predictably: Anthony Edwards to Minnesota, James Wiseman to Golden State, and LaMelo Ball to Charlotte. Rumblings leading up to the draft had the Bulls focusing in on Patrick Williams, who had shot up the draft boards, and had me – a Louisville Cardinals fan that watches a ton of ACC basketball – racking my brain to try and even recall who this guy was. I was completely out on the pick. Call me crazy, but I’m not big on taking players that average 9 points and 4 rebounds in college either. But that was indeed who the Bulls took and I sat there last night – deflated? Frustrated? Confused? Maybe the best term was underwhelmed. The general mindset this entire offseason is just trust AK and he has definitely earned our trust early on. But this move didn’t inspire confidence and with a roster that clearly needs change, it seemed unsettling that he took someone who leans toward being a power forward when we have young talent like Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter already on the roster.
Over the next 30 minutes, I scoured Twitter, read scouting reports, and tried to talk myself into Patrick Williams. These tweets from SBNation’s Ricky O’Donnell and NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson made me okay with the pick:
And just like that, I was in. I like his versatility. The Bulls badly need someone who can defend on the perimeter and bring the intensity on that end. Leonard Hamilton’s Florida State teams have traditionally been tough on defense and grinding on offense and I would imagine he was the prototypical player for that program. Remember: Florida State were the ACC Championship this year and Williams was apart of that. Then hearing Williams talk and you could clearly see that not only was he a versatile player (which I love), but he was a quality character guy and someone willing to do what it takes to help the team win.
On the second round, I selfishly had high hopes that Louisville’s Jordan Nwora would drop to #44 for the Bulls to take him. As a Cards fan, I have watched Nwora for three years and he’s pound for pound the best shooter in the draft, he’s an underrated athlete, and has made strides on defense. He’s going to be a solid pro and with the Bulls needing shooting, it seemed like a perfect fit. Just watch this video from last week when he made 38 consecutive threes:
The Bulls are up at #44 and amazingly, Nwora is still available. I keep refreshing Twitter waiting for Shams to announce the pick…..and the Bulls take Marko Simonovic. Stunned, I Google him and find a 34 year-old with the same name and am disgusted before realizing it wasn’t the same guy. Then I watch him and what I saw was lackluster. He’s skinny, has adequate skills I guess, but again, the Bulls have Markkanen, Carter, Gafford, and drafted Williams as a power forward. What does this do for them? To make it worse, Shams almost immediately announced Nwora going the very next pick to Milwaukee at #45.
Like any normal American, I jump on Twitter to gripe and complain and get comments like, “They have 14 guaranteed contracts. This was always the logical choice.” Or see people tweeting, “Very smart to draft and stash.” Really? The Bulls have won 71 games the past three seasons. How about instead of “drafting and stashing,” which is a move worthy of Gar/Pax, we actually draft somebody that could help us now? Even more infuriating, Arturas comes out and says in free agency, they’re going to be looking for shooters. You mean, like JORDAN NWORA?! Why not just take a flyer on a second round pick that was there? At worst, he could spend time in the G-League this season and see if he develops.
I get it: The roster is full, but there are still pathways to open up spots. Release Cristiano Felicio, trade Satoransky or Thaddeus Young (both of which don’t seem to fit what the Bulls are doing) or whatever. But passing up what you need when it’s right in front of you seems silly.
Overall, I’m fine with what the Bulls did last night, but I would’ve been much happier had they just drafted Nwora and added another legitimate shooter and a competent wing player to the roster. Time will tell if it was the right decision or not, but to me, it was a huge miss for the new regime. Will they add shooting in free agency? I certainly hope so. If not, I’m not sure how much better this team will be this season than last. That being said, management is bound to make mistakes and I still trust Arturas Karnisovas to build a great basketball team in Chicago. The best is still yet to come.