Pick No. 7 is clearly the big draw for the Bulls when the 2018 NBA Draft begins next week. A top-10 lottery pick in a deep draft like this means a potential All-Star if the right player falls out of the top 5.
But pick No. 22 in the first round is also an important piece for the franchise’s future. It’s possible that pick No. 22 is packaged with something else in a trade on, or before, draft night. If the Bulls opt to keep the pick, however, they should have an intriguing group of players to pick from in a deep draft.
And with pick No. 22 holding a very favorable cap number on the NBA’s rookie pay scale, hitting correctly on that pick could accelerate the Bulls rebuild while making the franchise a more attractive option for potential free agents.
Earlier this week, we looked at five players the Bulls should be targeting at No. 22. Now, we take a look at five players they should avoid if they’re still on the board with the same pick. While all five of these players have the potential to be good NBA players, given the right fit, they happen to be the wrong kind of fit for the Bulls.
Grayson Allen, SG, Duke — There is no denying that Allen is a talented and productive player who could find a long-term role as an NBA player. But the Bulls shouldn’t be the team that has to put up with Allen’s famous mood swings.
Although Allen is a noted scorer and improved perimeter shooter over his storied four-year career at Duke, those moments of brilliance were often overshadowed by Allen’s antics on the floor. There were multiple tripping incidents involving opponents and a meltdown on the bench that caused him to get suspended. With a roster full of young players, the Bulls don’t need to worry about a role player with unpredictable behavior. Let a veteran team take a risk on Allen’s conduct.
De’Anthony Melton, G, USC — Melton might actually be one of the sleepers to keep an eye on when it comes to the 2018 NBA Draft. But he isn’t an ideal fit for the Bulls given his questionable perimeter shooting.
A do-it-all 6-foot-3 guard with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, Melton stuffed the stat sheet during his freshman season at USC. Then he was forced to sit out last season when he was caught up in the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. Teams shouldn’t be deterred by Melton missing a season. They should, however, be cautious of his 28 percent three-point shooting and wary of the reports that his jumper looks significantly better. Although Melton has been working out with noted shooting guru Drew Hanlen during the pre-draft process, he’s too similar to Kris Dunn for the Bulls to take him at No. 22.
Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky — A talented big man who could become an elite rim protector, the 7-foot-0 Robinson was an enticing five-star recruit coming out of high school. He was good enough to give potential No. 1 pick DeAndre Ayton a memorable one-on-one big man battle at the Nike Peach Jam.
Then the drama started with Western Kentucky. Robinson enrolled in summer classes, then packed up his bags and left campus, only to return to school a few weeks later. Eventually, Robinson dropped out of school and opted to work out on his own as he prepared for the 2018 NBA Draft. As if there weren’t enough red flags to begin with, Robinson unexpectedly pulled his name out of all NBA Draft Combine activities one day before it was set to begin. Since he’s only been playing organized basketball since eighth grade, and there are questions about his maturity and willingness to work, passing on Robinson is probably for the best, despite his immense upside.
Anfernee Simons, PG, IMG Academy — The latest high school player to make the leap into the NBA Draft, the 6-foot-4 Simons is a smooth guard and a natural scorer. Making a transition from off-guard to point guard during a postgrad year at IMG Academy, Simons is an intriguing long-term talent if he’s properly developed and given time to grow.
But if you’re the Bulls, do you really want to develop a high school player on a roster already featuring a lot of young players? Especially one that still needs plenty of seasoning while learning a new position? Regardless of where he ends up, Simons is going to need a lot of time to develop into a rotation player in the NBA. The Bulls should look for someone a little more ready to contribute, given the available talent at the end of the first round.
Omari Spellman, F/C, Villanova — The Bulls will be in the mix for a number of Villanova products during the 2018 NBA Draft and Spellman has a chance at being a first-round pick after a strong redshirt freshman season.
Shooting an impressive 43 percent from three-point range last season, the 6-foot-9 Spellman fits the new-age NBA that is seeking floor-spacing at all five spots. Also a double-double threat thanks to his natural rebounding ability, Spellman could be productive in a number of unique ways. Spellman’s biggest issue, with regard to the Bulls, is that he’s too similar to Lauri Markkanen. Both big men can knock down jumpers at a high clip while being productive rebounders. However, Spellman doesn’t protect the rim at an elite level and wouldn’t be a great fit playing alongside Markkanen.