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The Bulls, with the 18th pick in the NBA draft… what will they do?

After Thursday night’s NBA draft, the Bulls should be better.

They met the trade deadline as their Eastern Conference rivals grew stronger. They can’t miss another opportunity to build a squad.

In Chicago’s brief and injury-riddled postseason, it’s become abundantly clear how much more the Bulls need to truly fight for a championship. The goal this summer should be to fill the roster and surround the team’s star players with the best complementary elements. How the Bulls do this will become clear in this week’s draft.

The bulls will enter with the 18th overall pick. This is considered a deep draft. They say that up to 20 years there is value. What will the Bulls be doing this year? This is the third draft under EVP Basketball Arturas Karnishovas. In 2020, he stayed put and selected Patrick Williams fourth overall and Marko Simonovic 44th. Last year’s first-round pick went to Orlando in a trade for Nikola Vucevic, but the Bulls swept Ayo Dosunma in the second round with the No. 38 pick.

This year, with their mid-first round pick, the Bulls could go in several directions as they look to take another step. How should the Bulls proceed in this year’s draft? Here are a few options at their disposal.

Make a choice

The most likely outcome for teams in most years will be to use their assigned first round pick. And the Bulls can still add value by sticking to their pick for the third straight season under new management.

If a player is drafted at age 18, the question is whether the Bulls are targeting growth or an immediate contributor (I’ll have more potential matches this week). It will not be easy to catch a player who can go on a playoff team and immediately command rotational minutes. But there may be several options for when the Bulls choose.

Maximizing the draft by attracting amateur talent is the best and most cost-effective way to build the future. If the Bulls can add a long-term piece that can also contribute immediately, that’s even better.

Pickaxe Trade

We have seen Karnisovas and his team have the courage to significantly change the trade deadline for Vucevic and have shown creativity in free play by astutely trading signs and trades for Demar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball.

We have yet to see how this new Bulls management team manipulates the draft to their advantage. League rules forbid the Bulls from trading their pick before this year’s draft. But they can move the pick to draft night. If the Bulls don’t like their number 18 options, don’t be surprised if a deal is made.

While the Bulls need to add something to their development process, their priority should be to maximize what appears to be a two-year window of contention. If the 18th pick trade yields an experienced and reliable player, the Bulls should consider this opportunity for immediate assistance. It would not make sense for the Bulls to go down unless it is offset by future project capital. It will be interesting to see if the Bulls get a high school trade deal this year. This can be a golden spot where you can find a long-term part and an immediate contribution.

Pack a choice

The Bulls could pin the 18th on their current contract players and try to solidify their bargaining position and come back.

An increasingly popular package includes defenseman Kobe White with the 18th pick. It’s not clear what this package shell can provide, but hope should be for an established veteran who can fit right in. Will Wizards part ways with Kyle Kuzma? Will the Knicks give the Bulls Alec Burks and the 11th pick?

White is on the wrong side of the Bulls backcourt numbers game, a stalemate that threatens his long-term future in Chicago. It would be wise for the Bulls to get as much as they can for White now rather than squabbling when the season starts.

Project and stash

Remember, when Karnisovas got the job, there was a lot of speculation that the Bulls would become more international? Much of this can be attributed to our American ignorance.

But it is true that Karnišovas, who is Lithuanian, likes the European style of play, with more emphasis on speed, ball movement, player movement and all-round skill. If he manages to get a player who fits the bill but needs a little more spice, Karnisovas will lash out.

We saw the Bulls do it with Simonovic in 2020, keeping him out of the country for one more season before he moves to the NBA as a rookie this season. Only he passed the selection of the second round. Will Karnisovas have the same patience with a pick in the first round? Can he afford it?

Get more choices

Accumulating more choices can be tricky.

There are currently four unselected teams in this year’s draft: the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Brooklyn Nets and Utah Jazz. If the Bulls want to be in a war for additional draft capital, they will have to contend with these teams and probably others.

But there is a downside. Six teams armed with multiple top 30 picks: Oklahoma City (2nd and 12th), Houston (3rd and 17th), Charlotte (13th and 15th), San Antonio (20th and 25th), Denver (21st and 30th) and Memphis . (22 and 29). There are options if the Bulls want to add a second tackle in the first round.

(Photo by Mark Eversleigh and Arturas Karnisovas: Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today)

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