Final Chicago Bulls Mock Draft Ahead of Round 1

Chicago faces a turning point: how hard to pivot into a rebuild? Who they take might signal in this year's draft may tell us all we need to know.
Apr 9, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan gestures to hi team against the New York Knicks during the first quarter at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan gestures to hi team against the New York Knicks during the first quarter at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Draft Day (one) cometh!

A typically hopeful day for even the most moribund franchises is exponentially more stressful in 2024 – particularly for teams with fewer bites at the apple. Chicago falls in that camp, only owning their No. 11 overall pick. Their second-round pick ended up with Philadelphia through a series of convoluted transactions after the DeMar DeRozan trade.

Few have a solid grasp of who will go where, and even fewer who will succeed in the league. For reference point, John Hollinger of The Athletic referred to the first tier of prospects as the “Best Bets in Bad Class.”

With the Bulls only having one pick and several issues to address – beyond whether they’re rebuilding or not – only makes that bet more stressful. Adding a cherry on the doom sundae, whether the draft shakes out to make any player that they want or need attainable, no one knows. Less than a day out, we’re convinced that anyone is taking anyone yet.

All that in mind, in mocking a pick for the Bulls’ first rounder, I’ll try to lay out the case for a player that fits what appears to be a team setting a new course. And, frankly, for general manager Artūras Karnišovas and his peers, good luck!

Chicago Bulls No. 11: Ron Holland, 6-7 Wing, G-League Ignite

Getting in front of an obvious critique here – it’s a strong possibility someone in the top 10 has a sterling view of Holland. It’s not novel to identify the theoretical value of a hyper-talented wing that – despite nauseating efficiency – averaged 19.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists playing as an 18-year-old against grown men in the G-League.

A former No. 1 overall high school recruit, the Texas native also carries a pedigree that assuage inhibitions in a draft where upside-minded picks feel like falling for a scam. In a year where there’s so little consensus on who has the best chance to be what, why not take the guy we thought would be awesome a year ago? Chicago would certainly seem lucky to have such a promising wing fall into their pocket after years of misfortune.

In the sober light of day, Holland’s warts become more apparent: 24 percent from three; an assist-to-turnover ratio just over one (3.2 to 3.0). Despite being immensely confident, there seems to be a disconnect between what Holland can be and what he actually is right now. Credit to draft analyst James Plowright for pointing out online that of Holland’s 107 3-point attempts, 20 percent were “bad” misses – bad misses being air balls, barely grazing the rim, or backboard denters.

With a solid 75.7 percent mark from the free throw line and a clear understanding of how to translate his athleticism into strong drives, he has enough touch and finishing ability to survive at lower levels. That said, if we’ve learned nothing in the last few years of watching basketball, we know that non-shooting wings will continue to get abused on NBA courts.

With his flaws laid to bare, why should Chicago take Holland if he’s available? Simple. You are one of the few teams in the lottery that can afford to focus on upside, and you are covered at guard. Trading for Josh Giddey at least implies an intention to develop (and re-sign) him, and Coby White is possibly your only encouraging young pseudo-star. Re-sign Ayo Dosunmu, too, please! Players like Jared McCain from Duke or Rob Dillingham from Kentucky might have sweet strokes, but Chicago isn’t a shooter away from being competitive.

It's also worth pointing out that Holland was able to put up impressive counting stats in a league populated by players closer to NBA-caliber than most collegiate competition. Racking up 2.5 steals a game reflects his doggedness, and he showed he could safely switch across every guard and wing he came across. Don’t rely on the 2005 baby to immediately fix your 22nd ranked defense, but it’s a start.

Will he ever become a passable shooter? If not, it’s a valiant swing in the late lottery in what will be a difficult rebuild or retool. If he even becomes passable, Holland becomes a cornerstone at wing for a team that needs one.

In other Bulls news: