Chicago Bulls: Why Mo Bamba is best case scenario at no. 7

(Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images) /

The worst-case scenario for the Chicago Bulls in the 2018 NBA lottery came to reality this past Tuesday night when the team drew the seventh pick in next month’s draft. However, the Bulls still have intriguing options for that pick, one being Texas big man Mohamed Bamba.

The Chicago Bulls traded away Jimmy Butler last summer. It signaled to fans that President of Basketball Operations John Paxson and General Manager Gar Forman entered a complete rebuild of the roster. The team, in return, got back Zach Lavine; a 6-5 189-pound athletic two-guard with tons of potential, and is still just 23 years-old. They also received point guard Kris Dunn, who the Minnesota Timberwolves gave up on after his rookie season.

Dunn flashed plenty this past year as a floor general who can effectively run coach Fred Hoiberg’s system. Dunn still has room for improvement in his jump shot. However, he showed throughout the year that he’s capable of knocking down perimeter shots. The expectations are that he sharpens up that shot over the summer. If he does, he becomes an even tougher matchup for opposing point guards in the league.

The grand prize of that trade might end up being the seven-foot Finnish sharpshooter in Lauri Markkanen. The rookie surprised many with not only his shooting but having the sneaky athleticism for a tall, lanky seven-footer. The Bulls have certainly had pieces to feel good about and it starts with the three that are previously mentioned. However, the Bulls are missing that wing player at the three position that can knock down three-pointers and lock down on the defensive end.

Michael Porter Jr. is the ideal guy to insert on the wing with Lavine and give another guy that can get a basket anywhere on the court. However, if Porter’s medicals check out okay, he likely won’t make it out of the top five. Mikal Bridges is another option, but his ceiling screams more Trevor Ariza than Kwahi Leonard.

The best option for the Bulls at seven might not come in the form of a wing player, but that in a 6-foot-11, 225-pound center in Texas prospect Mohamed Bamba. The one aspect that stands out in Bamba’s game is his shot-blocking ability. If Bamba is not blocking shots he does a great job altering them into difficult shots.

For Bamba, the athleticism is clearly there. The guy can leap out of the gym similar to a prime Dwight Howard. Throw the ball to Bamba around the rim and it’s likely he’s throwing it down on an opposing defender’s head. Bamba relied heavily on athleticism in college but showed that he can step out and hit 18-foot jumpers and to some extent put the ball on the floor and hit a step-back.

Bamba, early on in his NBA career, will be known best for his defensive ability. On the offensive end, he will be a mold of clay. He has a lot of upside on that end of the court. With the Bulls, I can picture Markkanen and Bamba as a dynamic high-low tandem. It could be sort of similar to what the New Orleans Pelicans had in Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins.

The NBA lottery was not kind to the Bulls on Tuesday night, with them drawing the seventh pick in the draft. DeAndre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley, and Jaren Jackson Jr are likely the top four that will go (not exactly in that particular order).

Next: 5 offseason questions for the Bulls

Bamba, at pick seven, is a high-risk/high-reward selection. If he booms, the Bulls would have a young star to go along with hopefully-ascending talents in Lavine, Markkanen, and Dunn.