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2021 NBA Mock Draft roundup: Bulls targets with 38th pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Operating without a first-round pick for the first time since 2005, the Chicago Bulls are hoping to find second-round magic at this year’s NBA Draft.
With Artūras Karnišovas’ “best player available” drafting philosophy well-established, and the team in need of depth in the back court, front court, and on the wing, where their eventual selection slots in will be a guessing game until the team is on the clock with at No. 38.
Here’s a refresh of who some notable draft experts see the Bulls targeting Thursday night:
Jonathan Givony (ESPN)
Kessler Edwards: F, Pepperdine
Edwards would certainly fit the Bulls front office’s emphasis on shooting. The 6-foot-8 combo forward was a 39.5 percent 3-point marksman across three seasons at Pepperdine, connecting on 37.8 percent of 119 attempts as a junior. Though his form strikes as a bit unconventional, he’s proven in catch-and-shoot situations and could be deployed running off of screens, picking and popping, or trailing in transition.
Defensively, he’s long (7-foot wingspan) and adept, both on the ball against wings and bigs, and as a helper on the interior (1.2 blocks per game in 2020-21). Concerns exist surrounding his limited on-ball creation, but the hope would be that the soon-to-be-21-year-old could fill a specialized role fast.
Sam Vecenie (The Athletic)
Austin Reaves: G, Oklahoma
Reaves, 23, transferred from Wichita State to Oklahoma after the 2017-18 season, and in 2019-20 and 2020-21, raised his production in a role with more on-ball responsibility. Last season, he averaged 18.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists for the Sooners, flashing three-level scoring and pick-and-roll playmaking potential.
Standing 6-foot-6, Reaves has good size for a guard and, despite shooting 27.7 percent from 3 in two seasons at Oklahoma (on a difficult shot diet), is a plus free-throw shooter and displayed long-range proficiency playing off the ball at Wichita State. But it’s reasonable to be skeptical about his upside given his age, defensive limitations and the questionable transferability of his off-the-bounce game and shooting.
Jeremy Woo (Sports Illustrated)
Jason Preston: G, Ohio
The Bulls could also look for back court help in the form of the slick-passing Preston. Well-sized for a lead guard at 6-foot-4, he averaged 15.7 points, 7.3 assists and 7.3 rebounds in his junior season, leading Ohio to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Preston’s creativity as a playmaker is the most eye-popping part of his game. Whether operating in pick-and-roll, hitting ahead in transition, or picking out open shooters from the post, he’s relentlessly unique as a table-setter. Solid shooting splits (39 percent from 3 in 2020-21) inspire confidence he’ll find utility as a shooter — preferably off the catch, where he’s more consistent than off the dribble — at the NBA level too, even if he’s lacking explosiveness.
Joshua Primo: G, Alabama
Primo, who doesn’t turn 19 until Dec. 24, is the youngest player in the draft, contrasting from some of the more mature, ready-made to contribute prospects above. Still, he’d be an intriguing option for a Bulls team that can never have enough scoring punch or defensive potential on the perimeter.
As a freshman playing 22.5 minutes a game for a high-powered Alabama team, Primo shot 38.1 percent from deep and looked projetable as a jump-shooter off the catch. He’s long (6-foot-5 with a 6-9 wingspan) and active, albeit still developing, defensively. And though improvement areas abound, he has plenty of room — and time — to grow.
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