Chicago Bulls prove they’re not dead, trade up and select elite athlete

Chicago Bulls, Julian Phillips (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls, Julian Phillips (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images) /

Just two years ago, the Chicago Bulls made an early second-round pick when they took the hometown kid, Ayo Dosunmu, who went on to have a fantastic rookie campaign.

Thursday night in the 2023 NBA Draft, the Bulls made a move to trade into the top of the second round and took their shot on another young, exciting kid with gobs of potential.

Chicago traded two future second rounders to acquire the Sacramento Kings’ no. 34 pick in the draft and the Bulls came away drafting Tennessee forward Julian Phillips.

Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley entered the night with zero picks, and many fans were wondering if the team was going to do anything at all after the front office was given a green light to make some moves. The first round came and went, and fans started to get a little restless.

Alas, the Bulls made the move to go up and get Phillips, proving they indeed had a heartbeat.

Julian Phillips brings elite athleticism to the Chicago Bulls and the potential to be a top-tier defender

You typically will not find a bonafide, future superstar in the second round like the Denver Nuggets once did with Nikola Jokic. But, the Bulls took their shot on a guy who could end up being a high-caliber defender with an athletic skillset.

Phillips stands 6-foot-7 but has a near-7-foot wingspan. Combine that with his 43-inch vertical (the best of his class) and you get someone who can defend multiple positions, and do it well.

Projecting to be a 3-and-D type at the next level, Phillips gives the Bulls an energetic and athletic defender who could develop into something special if he hones in on his role. Learning from a guy like Alex Caruso, assuming Caruso is still on the team next season, could give Phillips quite an edge.

Offensively, Phillips has a pure stroke but did struggle from three-point range at his one year in Tennessee. Coming out of high school, Phillips was a much better shooter overall, so he just needs to gain that confidence back as a pro. If he can do that, he’ll have a lengthy career in this league as, at least, a strong rotational player.

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