Best player available or need?
In seven months the Bulls will begin Year 3 of their rebuild. They'll do so with a core that consists of Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter and Kris Dunn. It could include Bobby Portis.
As far as the draft is concerned, the Bulls have drafted for BPA and for need during their rebuild.
Lauri Markkanen was the best player left on the board even though the Bulls had 25-year-old Nikola Mirotic and 22-year-old Portis (pre-fight) on the roster and a clear need on the wing after trading Jimmy Butler.
A year later the Bulls drafted for need. Desperate for some kind of interior presence to go alongside Markkanen, they drafted Carter over some sexier picks like Collin Sexton or Kevin Knox. It's been less than 20 games but the Bulls' drafting on need appears to have worked out fine, just as drafting best player available worked out in 2017.
So where will they go in 2019? The front court is secured with Markkanen and Carter, and Zach LaVine is both locked in financially and skillfully as the shooting guard of the future. Dunn has some work to do to make believers out of his skeptics, while Portis (and Chandler Hutchison) won't really factor into what the Bulls do next June.
The good news is the Bulls likely won't have to make a decision on draft night. Though plenty can change between now and then, the 2019 NBA Draft appears to be flush with wings at the top, where the 4-13 Bulls should be drafting. Here's a look at five of the top draft prospects and how they'd fit in to the Bulls rebuild.
Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
That being said, of course we'll begin with the one player who wouldn't fill a need. But when considering a talent such as Williamson, throw everything out the window. He's the most unique prospect we've seen since Anthony Davis in 2012, and his combination of size and athleticism is unparalleled: He's 291 pounds with a 40-inch vertical. He's ferocious at the rim, an apt ball handler and distributor and has the length and footwork to defend multiple positions. He doesn't have much in the way of an outside shot yet because he hasn't needed one at any level he's played at. That will come in time, though it doesn't project to ever be a strong suit.
So, where does he fit in with the Bulls? It's tough to say. His best position in the NBA will be at power forward, with shooters surrounding him in a similar manner to how LeBron James plays. Markkanen is, of course, cemented in at power forward, which would push Williamson to small forward with Carter at center. Markkanen could move to the 5 in a smaller lineup, and in reality Williamson is adaptable to any non-point guard spot on the floor. Fred Hoiberg would have fun mixing and matching the three players, while Williamson's drive-and-kick ability would entirely open up the offense for Zach LaVine on the wing.
The point is, if you don't have a spot for Williamson, make one and worry about the fit later. He's a winning player and the early favorite to go first overall.
R.J. Barrett, SG, Duke
If not for Williamson, we'd all be oohing and aahing over Barrett. The *other* top recruit dominating for the Blue Devils, Barrett is a do-it-all wing with massive upside. He's averaging 24.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists in his freshman season. While he isn't the athlete Williamson is, he's constantly making the right play and is methodical in his decision making. He's got the perfect frame, looks smooth on his perimeter jump shot and is crafty working his way toward the basket.