The Bulls have the number 18 roster in Thursday’s NBA draw. Which generally doesn’t mean much unless you’re particularly good at your job.
Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Artūras Karnišovas, who will make the choice, has often been very good. Just like last year with the No. 38 second-round pick for guard Ayo Dosunmu, who cracked the rotation for a playoff team and was named Second Team All-Rookie. Dosunmu as the lowest draw pick for 2021 to be called All-Rookie.
While he probably didn’t make the final roster, Karnišovas was part of the Denver Nuggets team that made one of the most important low-draft picks in NBA history, two-time MVP Nikola Jokic ranked No. 41 in the second round in 2014 .
That makes Karnišovas a basketball Buzz Lightyear, looking for success to infinity and beyond (the lottery).
It’s not hard when you have an NBA lottery selection. Nearly by the time of draft, the order is largely determined and teams generally select players who are close to their number. This year, for example, it seems almost certain that the top four picks in the draft will be Auburn forward Jabari Smith, likely No. 1 ahead of Orlando, Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren, Duke forward Paolo Banchero and Purdue guard Jaden Ivey.
Picks rarely vary one or two slots apart in the projected top 10.
Those executives are matched to the whims of their player. They are usually teenagers or barely 20 years old in this era, so you hope they have the motivation to match the projection. And accepting the praise or blame.
Where a top team manager makes his reputation is with a roster outside the lottery that becomes a star, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard at number 15 and Jimmy Butler at number 30. Or the likes of Draymond Green, Paul Millsap, Carlos Boozer, Mark Price, Dennis Rodman and Jokic in the second round.
Sometimes those “brilliant” choices arise when it’s not already a trend or risk, like high school students when there were still doubts, like Monta Ellis in the second round. Or international players like Manu Ginobili, Toni Kukoc and Tony Parker when the NBA still had doubts about the European game and the toughness.
Not much is usually expected from players who are taken out of the lottery. But when a team hits one, it can create a franchise, as it has for the Bucks and Nuggets with the last four league MVPs.
It is almost certain that half a dozen players in the top 14 will have a good NBA career. Once outside that lottery, the choices can be between 15 and 20 players to find one or two gems. Can the Bulls do that this week?
Here’s a look at some of the teams over the past 20 years that have defied the odds by selecting potential stars and valuable role players when picking lower than number 18 in the first round. It happens just about every year. But it is not easy and is generally not expected. Still, it’s the job.
After all, what do they do all winter?
2020: Tyrese Maxey (21) and Desmond Bane (30). Both have become entry-level guards for top teams in the playoffs, good marksmen and goalscorers. Saddiq Bey (19) and Immanuel Quickley (25) were nice additions.
2019: Jordan Poole (28). After a stint in the G-league, he became an indispensable all-around guard and top scorer for the Championship Warriors team and continued to put in great performances in the final. Olympian Keldon Johnson (29) and second rounds Nic Claxton and Daniel Gafford became valuable big man roles.
2018: This draft has disrupted my historical belief about runoff rounds. Jalen Brunson (33) could be the star player this summer after becoming Luka Doncic’s valuable running mate. Perhaps also for free agency Mitchell Robinson (36). Gary Trent Jr. (37) and De’Anthony Melton (46) were worth the gamble. Robert Williams (27) became a defensive star for the Finals Celtics. Kevin Huerter (19), Anfernee Simons (24) and whether he or not, Grayson Allen was a good addition to (21).
2017: John Collins (19), Jarrett Allen (22), OG Anunoby (23), Kyle Kuzma (27), Derrick White (29), Dillon Brooks (45) and Denver’s Monte Morris (51). Jordan Bell with the roster of the Bulls they are off at number 38? Not so much.
2016: Pascal Siakam (27) was the big prize, a likely perpetual All-Star. And probably also Dejounte Murray (29). Caris LeVert (20). Malcolm Brogdon was Rookie of the Year and although injured and now trading rumours, he was a good one at No. 36.
2015: Bobby Portis (22), Larry Nance Jr. (27), Kevon Looney (30), and you couldn’t go wrong with second rounds Montrezl Harrell (32), Richaun Holmes (37), Josh Richardson (40), Pat Connaughton (41) and Norman Powell (46).
2014: Gary Harris (19), Rodney Hood (23), Clint Capela (25), Bogdan Bogdanovic (27), Joe Harris (33), Spencer Dinwiddie (38), Olympian Jerami Grant (39), Sixth Man winner Jordan Clarkson (46) and Jokic.
2013: Tim Hardaway Jr. (24) and multiple defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert (27), the latter originally drafted by Denver. The Nuggets also had their whoops, like when they traded Donovan Mitchell or Trey Lyles and a future pick that didn’t work.
2012: This year was a better second round than the first round after 18. Second rounders included Green (35), Jae Crowder (34), Tomas Satoransky (32), Will Barton (40) and multiple All-Star Khris Middleton (39).
2011: Tobias Harris (19), Nikola Mirotic (23), Reggie Jackson (24), Butler (30), and second-rounders who have had varying degrees of significant success, such as Bojan Bogdanovic (31), Chandler Parsons (38), Davis Bertans ( 42), E’Twaun Moore (55) and Isaiah Thomas (60).
2010: Avery Bradley (19), and second routers such as Hassan Whiteside (33), ring-bearer-to-be Nemanja Bjelica (35) and Lance Stephenson (40).
2009: Jeff Teague (19), Darren Collison (21), Taj Gibson (26), Wayne Ellington (28), Patrick Beverley (42), three-time champion and also all-defense like Beverley Danny Green (46) and Patty Mills ( 55).
2008: three-point champion and most improved Ryan Anderson (21), Courtney Lee (22); Serge Ibaka (24), Nicholas Batum (25) and George Hill (26), who are all still in the NBA, while with the two picks after No. 1 Derrick Rose has long been out of the NBA. Mario Chalmers (34), DeAndre Jordan (35), Omer Asik (36) and Goran Dragic (45).
2007: Jared Dudley (22), DePaul’s Wilson Chandler (23), Most Improved and Three-Point Champion Aaron Brooks (26), Arron Afflalo (27). Second rounds Carl Landry (31), Glen Davis (35) and All-Star Marc Gasol (48).
2006: Rajon Rondo (21) and still as good as Kyle Lowry (24). Second round PJ Tucker (35), who opts for a better deal, and four-time All-Star Paul Millsap (47).
2005: Mini dunk champion Nate Robinson (21), Jarrett Jack (22), All-Star David Lee (30) and second round CJ Miles (34), Ersan Ilyasova (36), Monta Ellis (40) and Sixth Man Lou Williams (45) and Marcin Gortat (57).
2004: Dorell Wright (19), All-Star Jameer Nelson (20), another Chicago defensive wizard Tony Allen (25), goalscorer Kevin Martin (26), second-rounder Anderson Varejao (30), the Bulls’ Chris Duhon ( 38) and Trevor Ariza (43).
2003: Boris Diaw (21), Kendrick Perkins (27), Leandro Barbosa (28), All-Star Josh Howard (29) to cap off a strong first round end. Then Luke Walton (32), Zaza Pachulia (42), Mo Williams (47) and All-Star shooter Kyle Korver (51).
2002: Tayshaun Prince (23), John Salmons (26) and Second Round All-Star Carlos Boozer (35), Matt Barnes (36) and Luis Scola (56).
2001: All-Star and Most Improved Zach Randolph (19), Gerald Wallace (25), Tony Parker (28) and All-Stars Gilbert Arenas (31) and Mehmet Our (38). And White Mamba Brian Scalabrine (35).
So yes, they are there. They are in every design. Can the Bulls find one?
Do you have a question for Sam?
Ask your question to Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org
The content of this page has not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the views of the Chicago Bulls or the Basketball Operations staff, its parent company, partners or sponsors. His sources are unknown to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges associated with being an NBA accredited member of the media.