CHICAGO – So far in the Arturas Karnisovas/Marc Eversley era, the focus has been acquiring proven talent in the NBA to help the Bulls’ movement toward relevancy in the league.
Perhaps that was in response to the team falling out of competition since the end of the Derrick Rose era as an attempted rebuild by John Paxson and Gar Forman failed to produce results late in the last decade.
Hence the Bulls traded away their 2021 and 2023 top four-protected first round picks to Orlando in March of 2021 to acquire Nikola Vucevic. Other moves last summer also were done to get veteran talent on the roster, and it paid off as the team made the playoffs for the first time in five years.
But the team will have to do some of their building in the draft in order to compete for a championship, and another critical step comes on Thursday night, when Karnisovas and Eversley get the chance to make a first round pick for the second time.
They’ll get the shot with the 18th overall selection in Thursday night’s draft starting at 7 PM CT at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. At the moment, it’s the only pick the Bulls will have this year and would have to trade to get into the second round.
Here are a few things to know about draft night for the Bulls in 2022:
- This will be the second selection for this regime in the first round of the NBA Draft, with the team selecting forward Patrick Williams with the fourth overall selection. After starting 71 games in his rookie season (9.2 points/5.6 rebounds per game), Williams was sidelined most of the season with a wrist injury that limited him to 17 regular season games. He saw action in five playoff games against the Bucks, averaging 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds a contest.
- There has been chatter that the Bulls could look to trade the pick in order to acquire another talent that could help the team now, with a lot of the focus on Jazz center Rudy Gobert. His acquisition would dramatically bolster the Bulls’ defense since he’s won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year three times. The price would be high and would likely command two players off the roster along with the 18th selection.
- Due to “The Stepien Rule,” the Bulls had to wait until Thursday in order to make a trade with their first round pick. This NBA rule says that teams can’t be without future first round picks in back-to-back years. But if the Bulls select the player desired by a team and then trade that player after or acquire another first round pick in the 2022 draft, they’ll be free to pursue a deal.
- The Bulls have only picked two other times at No. 18, and only one of those has been in the first round. In 1976, when the first round featured 17 selections, the Bulls took guard Willie Smith out of Missouri with the first pick in the second round. He would end up playing in just two games for the Bulls before spending time with the Pacers, Trail Blazers, and Cavaliers.
- With their only other 18th selection in the first round, the Bulls picked guard BJ Armstrong from Iowa in 1989. He would be a key player in the team’s first “Three-Peat” in the 1990s and would be a starter on the 1992-1993 team that won the franchise’s third NBA Championship. In total, Armstrong spent seven seasons with the Bulls from 1989-1995 and then in his final campaign in 1999-2000.
- A few mock drafts have the Bulls going a few different directions with the 18th pick if they should decide to keep it. Here are a few: