Bulls Land No. 7 Pick In NBA Draft

The Bulls entered with the fourth-best odds but fell three slots.

Cody Westerlund
May 14, 2019 - 7:45 pm

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- On what had the potential to be a franchise-altering night, the Bulls didn't land a draft pick commensurate with the ugliness of what transpired in a 22-60 season.

The Bulls received no luck in the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday evening, falling three spots and landing the No. 7 pick after entering the night with the fourth-best odds. The Bulls held a 12.5-percent chance to land the top pick and a 48-percent odds of residing in the the top four but could only watch as their name was revealed on national television before they hoped.

"You’re always disappointed, but there’s always luck involved, and we weren’t lucky," Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said.

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In the first year of draft lottery reform that was designed to discourage tanking by flattening the odds, chaos ensued, with teams boasting the seventh-, eighth- and 11th-best odds hopping into the top four. The Pelicans cashed in on 6-percent odds to land the No. 1 pick and the right to draft Duke star Zion Williamson, with the Grizzlies (also 6 percent) following them at No. 2. Owners of the league's worst record, the Knicks (14 percent) fell to No. 3, while the Lakers (2 percent) landed at No. 4.

The Bulls found themselves among the teams suffering the consequences. Paxson did his best to strike an optimistic tone despite the prevailing feeling of disgust in the organization.

"You always come into a situation like this hoping, and we got lucky years ago," Paxson said in a reference to the Bulls picking Derrick Rose at No. 1 overall in 2008. "It didn’t work out. But I’m very confident. I say this all the time, we got the seventh pick this year. We’re confident we will get a player we can add. Now obviously in this draft, there’s a generational type of guy and New Orleans is better off for it, but this is about building a team, and I’m always confident we’re going to find value where we draft."

The Bulls also owned the No. 7 pick last year, when they selected Wendell Carter Jr. out of Duke. In 2017, they acquired Lauri Markkanen after the Timberwolves selected him at No. 7 on their behalf as part of the Jimmy Butler trade.

This draft isn't as deep as either of those two, according to most talent evaluators. That leaves the Bulls in a more difficult situation come draft night on June 20, but Paxson offered a usual refrain regarding that.

"We've gone on our board already, and there's more than seven there that we like," Paxson said. "We now get to go through the process of bringing guys in for workouts, getting to know them a little bit better. And that's what this is all about. That's the fun part for us. We'll get at that right away."

Falling to No. 7 will create a need for the Bulls to cast a wider net in their evaluation of prospects. Management has been open about the need to upgrade at point guard either in free agency or the draft, which should put Darius Garland of Vanderbilt and Coby White of North Carolina on Chicago's radar. The catch is many talent evaluators project Garland to go before No. 7 despite a meniscus tear that cost him most of his freshman season.

The likes of Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver, Virginia forward De'Andre Hunter and Duke guard Cam Reddish are other possibilities should the Bulls look at add help on the wing. Paxson acknowledged falling to No. 7 could edge the Bulls closer to drafting for need rather than simply the best player available. In telling comment, Paxson also referenced the possibility of a trade. 

The comments were reflective of the uncertainty that lies ahead. On a night the Bulls could've fortified their identity had they received a stroke of fortune, they instead landed a pick that figures to add much more marginally to their rebuilding efforts.

"If you’re looking at comparable guys in a tier, sometimes need takes precedent (over best talent)," Paxson said.

"I’ve talked to our entire group about keeping an open mind on things like that this year. There’s other things you can do with picks to get better. You can trade them, you can do a lot of different things. So again, now that we know where we’re at, thankful to know and we’ll get to work trying to find a way to make best use of it."

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.