Bulls Analyst Suggest Team Could Be Tanking for 2021’s Top Prospect

Getty Jalen Suggs

Many Chicago Bulls fans have been dissatisfied with the team’s offseason moves. In an answer to a frustrated fan, long-time Bulls reporter Sam Smith breeched the subject of tanking for Cade Cunningham, the top prospect in the 2021 NBA Draft.

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Sam Smith Calls Cade Cunningham “Ben Simmons With a Shot”

The 2021 NBA Draft seems to have some depth, but it also what some might consider a clear frontrunner for the No. 1 overall pick. Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham has drawn comparisons to Grant Hill and other do-it-all swingmen with point-guard abilities.

NBC Sports’ Sam Smith chose a more recent multi-faceted player to compare Cunningham to when he said this to a fan that suggested the Bulls organization was already throwing in the towel on the 2020-21 season.

Giving up already? Though I can understand the response as many fans and media often prefer the next thing, and it does seem as if this is more an analysis/evaluation/squeaky sneakers in the gym season than any threats to the Bucks, Celtics, 76ers, Raptors… But hey, I had enough trouble with the 2020 draft. The guys who do pay attention to that stuff—who get it wrong as much as the rest of us as I guarantee in four years it will be a different top five—say a 6-7 lead guard, Cade Cunningham, from Oklahoma State is some sort of a Ben Simmons with a shot. That sort of player, of course, is exactly what the Bulls could use and the apparent top of a draft class regarded far superior to this draft class. If that’s what the Karnisovas/Eversley group is planning and can pull it off, then they’re on the way to executives of the year with a little patience this (shorter) season. If you’re going to pass on one, this would be the one. Nevertheless, we still have a lot to learn from the narratives of this group and I’m interested after nine months of speculation.

Smith isn’t definitive in this concept, but if the Bulls were indeed looking to next year’s impressive crop of players for its next star to pair with Patrick Williams, Cunningham, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs, and the G-League’s Jalen Green would be sensible targets. All three players are two-way contributors who fit the next-generation style Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley are building.


The Tank Talk Doesn’t Add Up

While all of that isn’t completely insane to consider, the Bulls don’t look like a team that is planning on tanking. If they were, I’d like to think they would part ways with Zach LaVine when they were receiving calls for him during the offseason. They might have traded Wendell Carter Jr. and/or Lauri Markkanen, and even listened to offers for Coby White.

Instead, the Bulls kept their young and still promising core together and used it to entice Billy Donovan to coach the team next season. While the Bulls probably aren’t committed to all of those guys for the long-term and some–if not all–could still be had via trade for the right offer, the Bulls’ lack of movements speaks more to a belief in some aspect of their talent rather than a submission.


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