To trade the 18th pick or to not trade the 18th pick. That is the question. With rumors that the Chicago Bulls may package a player with the 18th pick to get a proven veteran, there’s uncertainty around whether or not the Bulls will be on the clock Thursday night. With that in mind, if the Bulls elect to keep their pick, there are a few options at 18 that could help them in their quest to climb the Eastern Conference standings.
E.J. Liddell, PF, Ohio State
Did someone say Grant Wiliams? After what we saw from Williams in the playoffs, this is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Bulls. From what the Bulls displayed in the playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks, they are in dire need of a player that can offer some resistance to the elite scorers in the league while also having the ability to space the floor.
In 32 games for the Buckeyes last year, E.J. Liddell averaged 19.4 points a game while shooting 49% from the field and 37.4 % from three. On top of that, Liddell averaged 2.6 blocks a game and showcased his ability to defend guards off the dribble.
On the flip side, Liddell struggles with creating space off the dribble, but with an offense built around guards Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, it would give Liddell time to work on that area of his game if the Bulls deem it necessary.
Jalen Williams, SG, Santa Clara
With the uncertainty of point guard Lonzo Ball’s knee injury, a combo guard isn’t out of the question at 18. Williams’ above average size at the point guard position puts him in place to become a good defender at the NBA level.
Along with Williams’ defense, his shooting improved to 51% from the field and 39.6% from three as he averaged 18.4 points and four rebounds and assists per game last season. Williams also displayed how good of passer he can be in the pick-and-roll while also being able to kick it out to shooters on the perimeter.
The two biggest worries with Williams is that he’s not consistent enough on defense and that his shooting may not translate to the NBA. Before last season, he had never shot over 44% from the field, so it may be hard for some teams to trust the efficiency Williams displayed last season. Overall, he’s a combo guard with good size and brings a handful of skills to the table that a lot of teams could use.
Tari Eason, PF, LSU
If the Bulls choose to go with the player with the most upside, Tari Eason is most likely their guy. Eason’s 6-foot-8-inch height and 7-foot-3-inch wingspan gives him a chance to be the biggest disruptor out of this draft class. During his time at LSU, Eason blocked 1.1 shots a game while also averaging 1.9 steals.
His defensive ability is clearly there. The one obstacle in front of Eason is if he can develop into a more consistent three-point shooter. Eason’s shot needs some work even though he shot 36% from three on 2.4 attempts last season.
Eason tends to bring the ball to the right of his face, which results in a compact shot that’s tougher to get off while being defended. If Eason can tweak his shooting form, he has a chance of becoming a very good 3-and-D player.
Nikola Jovic, SF, Serbia
This is a perfect time to plug in a Nikola Jokić joke but I’ll spare your time. Anyhow, at 6-foot-11 inches, Jović offers elite shooting that is rare for his size. Last season he shot 40% from beyond the arc for Mega Soccerbet and would be a boost to a Bulls roster that lacks perimeter shooting.
However, shooting is only half of the problem that the Bulls have, and what Jović
offers on defense isn’t exactly ideal. Jović’s athleticism can be underwhelming and mixed with a thin frame, doesn’t bode well for when he’s matched up against quicker guards or big forwards.
If the Bulls think they can work with Jović on defense, while also developing a better handle, then Jović would be a good fit for a team that is desperate for shooting.
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