The Chicago Bulls currently hold the No. 16 pick in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft. Here are five targets they should consider for that selection.
The Chicago Bulls have some decisions to make and the No. 16 selection in the NBA Draft is just one of them.
The first and biggest decision of the offseason is whether or not to trade All-Star guard Jimmy Butler. Butler has expressed his desire to stay in Chicago but at the end of the day, the decision may not be up to him. Butler would certainly be wanted by a high number of teams and Chicago would likely get a lot in return. But would they really want to rid themselves of one of the top guards in the league, especially when he still has two years left on his contract and the chance to build around him is still there?
Another choice the Bulls have to make concerns point guard Rajon Rondo. Chicago owns the option for his non-guaranteed $13.4 million contract for next season but with the number of guards available in this year’s draft, Rondo may be on his way out of the Windy City. However, executive vice president John Paxson has said that there is a good chance that Rondo will return so that’s anybody’s guess at this point.
One decision that the Bulls don’t have, and one that will make a huge impact on their salary cap situation, is the choice to bring back Dwyane Wade, who owns the option on his $23.8 million contract for the 2017-18 campaign. He’s not likely to find that type of contract on the open market so Bulls fans should probably expect to see him back at the United Center for another season.
Nikola Mirotic, Michael Carter-Williams, Cristiano Felicio and Joffrey Lauvergne are all restricted free agents and the lone unrestricted player is Anthony Morrow. There are a lot of different ways Chicago could handle these situations but for right now, one has to assume that the big names are all going to be back. Some middle-range free agents may be on the table but that may all depend on what Chicago does with their No. 16 pick.
The likes of Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum and De’Aaron Fox are all likely to be gone by the time the Bulls get on the clock but there are still some solid options that may fall to the middle of the first round, depending on who does what with their respective picks. There’s a ton of rumors flying around right now all over the league so it’s impossible to know exactly who will be there but if these five players are still available, Chicago should take a long, hard look at these guys.
5. Luke Kennard, SG, Duke
J.J. Redick is an unrestricted free agent this summer, but there’s another shooting guard from Duke that might be a little cheaper. Luke Kennard played two seasons for Mike Krzyzewski and while his freshman year was a bit underwhelming — he shot just 42.1 percent from the field and 32 percent from the 3-point line — the former McDonald’s All-American had a dynamic sophomore season.
Kennard improved his shooting immensely, shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from beyond the arc, and was the second-leading scorer in the ACC with 19.5 points per game. At 6-foot-6, his size isn’t going to be a problem but he’s not terribly big at 196 pounds, and his quickness and athleticism certainly aren’t the greatest in this draft.
However, as a product of Duke, his footwork is incredible and what he lacks in speed can be made up in other ways. He moves extremely well without the ball and just always seems to find himself where defenders aren’t, the true embodiment of a shooter. The great thing is that he’s not just a spot-up shooter. He shoots very well off the dribble, is great coming off screens and is great at both head-fakes and pump-fakes, which means he could find himself at the free throw line quite often, which isn’t a bad thing seeing as how he shot 86.7 from the foul line in his two years in Durham.
The biggest knock on Kennard is his defense. Again, he’s not overly quick or strong, which makes things difficult given the guards currently in the NBA, and he would certainly have to improve in that aspect. But if he’s knocking down shots, Bulls fans might just be able to overlook that…at least for a little while.