Bulls Have a History with the 38th Overall Pick, and it’s Complex

Daniel Gafford

Getty Daniel Gafford, the 38th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, as a member of the Chicago Bulls in 2021.

When the Chicago Bulls pulled the trigger on the trade-deadline blockbuster for All-Star big man Nikola Vucevic, they all but committed to not having a first-round pick in the 2021 NBA draft.

After finishing with a 31-41 record, there was some hope (and a 20.2% chance!) that they’d hold on to this year’s first-round pick, as it was top-four protected.

But last week’s Draft Lottery confirmed the Bulls’ fears, as they watched their pick fail to climb into the top-four, landing at eighth overall and thus, going into the hands of the Orlando Magic.

That doesn’t mean the Bulls will be watching idly from home on draft night, however, as they still have a second-round pick, the 38th overall selection.

Several contributing players have been taken as low as 38, and often times lower, across the history of the draft.

And the Chicago Bulls are no stranger to this spot, one they’ve held three times since the 2004 NBA Draft.

Each selection they’ve made tells a story and can help fans form expectations as to what kind of player could be available from this year’s class.


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With the 38th Pick in the 2004 NBA Draft…

The Chicago Bulls took point guard Chris Duhon with the 38th pick in 2004, and in him, found an immediate starting talent for the 2004-2005 team that went 47-35 under Scott Skiles.

Ultimately, they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Washington Wizards but welcomed the result after going just 23-59 the year before.

Duhon started 73 out of 82 games for the Bulls, averaging 5.9 points, 4.9 assists, and a steal per game.

His career in Chicago would end as his rookie contract expired in 2008, with his time in the starting lineup in constant decline after that standout rookie campaign.

Still, for the Bulls to get a guy who would start 159 games over four seasons with the 38th overall pick should count for a win, even if they took Duhon over now 17-year veteran Trevor Ariza.


With the 38th Pick in the 2017 NBA Draft…

The Chicago Bulls didn’t walk out of the 2017 NBA Draft with a player at pick 38, but rather ‘cash considerations,’ by way of a trade with the Golden State Warriors.

In return, they sent out the actual 38th pick, Jordan Bell, a move that would go on to be widely mocked.

It didn’t last long.

Bell would go on to play just two and a half seasons with the Warriors, before being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and subsequently, bounce around three more teams over two seasons.

Currently unemployed by an NBA franchise, it suffices to say he’d welcome a spot on the Chicago Bulls today.

Just another instance where the team’s decision-making with the 38th overall pick can be ruled justifiable.


With the 38th Pick in the 2019 NBA Draft…

Arguably the most notable of second-round draft picks in Chicago Bulls’ history, even if only recently, is big man Daniel Gafford, who they took with the 38th selection in the 2019 NBA Draft.

He played only 43 games his rookie season, but averaged an eye-popping 3.3 blocks per 36 minutes, a number that lead the rookie class among players who’d suited up a minimum of 25 games.

Most would read this as an indication that Gafford was in store for a bright NBA future if given the playing time.

But that’s the issue; he wasn’t. Gafford appeared in just 31 out of 43 possible games this season for Chicago, registering 12 DNP-Coach’s Decisions before ultimately being traded to the Washington Wizards.

And since? Well, it appears he’s found a new home, next to perennial lob passer Russell Westbrook.

Gafford was a key contributor for the Wizards’ end-of-season run that landed them in the play-in tournament, and beyond that, the first round of the playoffs.

The Chicago Bulls were right to take Daniel Gafford with the 38th overall pick, just as they were right to select Chris Duhon in 2004, and opt-out of selecting Jordan Bell in 2017.

But the question remains as to whether or not they’ll be able to channel the judgement of regime’s past in this year’s draft, one where their only pick will be the 38th.


What the Latest Mock Drafts are Saying

In his latest mock draft for ESPN, Jonatan Givony has the Chicago Bulls taking Paris guard Juhann Begarin.

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic has them selecting Marcus Bagley out of Arizona State.

And for Hoops Hype, Bryan Kalbrosky has Auburn’s JT Thor landing with the Windy City team.

READ NEXT: Bulls Sign-And-Trade Proposal Swaps Markkanen for Celtics ‘Bulldog’ PG

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