Analyzing the Chicago Bulls’ Draft

Featured Image From the Associated Press

By Andrew Lawlor

This was the first draft in Chicago for the Bulls’ new front office regime of Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley, and nobody really knew what they were going to do. There were rumors all over the place; I saw that they were looking to trade up for LaMelo Ball or James Wiseman, trade down, or take Deni Avdija at four. But after the top three in the draft went chalk, and the rumors of a trade up or down did not come to fruition, the Bulls went with Florida State freshman Patrick Williams.

Round 1, Pick 4 – Patrick Williams

This pick was a little bit of a reach by consensus; Williams was consistently getting mocked later in the top ten. But the pick does make sense; Williams was the youngest American in the draft at just 19 years old, and he has great size at 6-foot-8, 225 pounds with a 6-foot-11 wingspan and tree trunks for legs.

Thanks to his excellent physical tools, Williams is strongest on defense. He particularly excels at rim-protection, a rare skill among wings, having posted a 5.6 block percentage in a bench role at Florida State. But he does not just block shots; Williams has mastered the concept of verticality, so he can alter shots even when he does not block them. And with his immense strength, offensive players cannot go through him to score. He is at his best in the paint, but Williams also can read the game well and had a 2.5 steal percentage this season because of his knack for jumping passing lanes.

As I wrote a couple months ago, Williams can be a potential three-and-D guy, due to his good shot-making ability. He has the confidence to take threes and tough pull-up jumpers, and while the percentages from the floor are not great, he shot very well from the free throw line in college, which is often a better predictor of shooting success in the NBA. I project him to be around average from the three-point line in the NBA, with the potential to be even better.

Williams is also a promising passer; he makes good reads and managed an 8.4 assist percentage at Florida State. He did turn the ball over a lot (17.1 turnover percentage), but this is not the end of the world. High turnovers often reflect a player who is willing to take chances, and this is often better than someone who is afraid of making mistakes. 

For all his strengths, Williams is not a perfect prospect. He somewhat lacks lateral quickness, which affects him both on offense and defense. On defense, he struggles to stay in front of people on the perimeter and he’s prone to getting dusted by guards (and not even particularly athletic ones). I asked PD Web, a draft writer who can be found on Patreon, where his work is free, or Twitter at @abovethebreak3, and he said “The most important thing on defense is Pat guarding fours for his rookie year, as he is still developing the movement skills to switch onto mobile wings.”

This complicates Bulls’ lineups with Lauri Markkanen, who is also a four. “I think that Markkanen may be on the way out unless he can reclaim his shooting pedigree. If Lauri can really shoot, there are some lineups with Pat at the five defensively that are possible,” says PD Web.

On offense, Williams’ lack of quickness is compounded by a weak handle; he often struggles to beat people off the dribble. He can take defenders off closeouts, but he struggles against set defenders. Because of this, Williams is probably not going to ever be the Bulls’ primary option on offense. But PD Web points specifically to using Williams as the roll man in a pick-and-roll with Zach LaVine, or handling in a pick-and-roll with Wendell Carter Jr. as areas where he can thrive.

Williams is very young, has great size, and comes into the league with lots of skills. He may not score enough to be a star, but he should be a productive player for the Bulls for years to come. This was a good pick. Here is a good video of him for more scouting information:

Also, PD Web wrote this breakdown of Williams, which is awesome.

Round 2, Pick 44 – Marko Simonovic

After taking Williams in the first round, the Bulls added Marko Simonovic, a 21-year old from Montenegro (from the same professional team as Nikola Jokic) who will probably be a draft-and-stash. I don’t really know a lot about him (and when you Google him, you get a different guy, a 34-year-old Serbian basketball player), but according to Sam Vecenie’s draft guide, he’s a 7-footer who moves well, plays with high effort, and is willing to shoot threes (though he only makes 31 percent of them). On the down side, he struggles with defense and is a terrible passer, again according to Vecenie. Still, that sounds like a good player to take a shot on to me.

Undrafted – Devon Dotson

But the Bulls weren’t done! They added Kansas guard (and Chicago native) Devon Dotson as an undrafted free agent. Dotson is the kind of player I love taking a flyer on; he was immensely productive in college for a high-major program, averaging 18.1 points, 4.0 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game last season while making the All-American second team. He is fast, having clocked the second-fastest three-quarter court sprint time at the NBA Draft Combine in the last decade (behind only Donovan Mitchell).

Dotson struggled from three during his final season in college (30.9 percent), but was good from the free throw line (83.0 percent), so I project him to be an average NBA three-point shooter. His passing was also only okay in college, but he got better in his sophomore season and could continue to develop. He will probably struggle on defense since he is small (6-foot-2, 6-foot-3 wingspan, 185 pounds). He was getting mocked in the early-second round in a lot of places, so he represents great value as an undrafted free agent.

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