Chicago Bulls fans may want to familiarize themselves with some of the top Nigerian prospects in the upcoming NBA Draft.
The spotlight on the Nigerian hoops scene is bright with the recent strong showing from the country’s national team during Olympic exhibitions, which included a victory over Zach LaVine and Team USA.
Also, Giannis Antetokounmpo (whose parents are Nigerian) just led the Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA championship. According to a recent mock draft from Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman, the Bulls are pegged to select Nigerian big man Charles Bassey with the 38th pick.
Bulls fans should watch this scouting video on Bassey from Adam Spinella.
Bassey Could Be a Do-Over For the Loss of Daniel Gafford
Bulls fans watched Daniel Gafford blossom with the Washington Wizards after Chicago traded him near the deadline this past season.
It stung to see Gafford prosper alongside a point guard capable of creating for him in the pick-and-roll situations, and the athletic big man also demonstrated some noteworthy rim-protection skills.
In 23 games with the Wizards, Gafford averaged 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game. With the Bulls, he averaged 4.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 31 games.
Perhaps Bassey could represent a do-over for Chicago.
He may well be even more athletic than Gafford, and from a measurables standpoint, he is superior.
At 6’11, Bassey is listed an inch taller than Gafford with a slightly wider wingspan at 7’3″ compared to 7’2″ for Gafford. Massey runs the floor like a gazelle and his motor appears similar to Gafford’s, who was also a second-round pick for Chicago in 2020.
As a junior at Western Kentucky, Bassey averaged 17.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and an eye-popping 3.1 blocked shots per game.
Bassey has some wrinkles to his game that Gafford didn’t possess when he came out of college, and still hasn’t developed through two years in the NBA.
Bassey has proven himself to be at least a decent outside shooter, and you’ll notice in the scouting video, he also possesses some nice handle and footwork on drives.
In college, Bassey made just over 30% of his three-point attempts. He converted just under 76% of his free throws as well.
That’s not a reason to consider him a stretch-big as a rookie, but it is evidence that the skill set can be developed. Bassey might just be scratching the surface of his talent.
Bassey and Simonovic Could Be 2 Solid Additions to Bulls Frontcourt
The Bulls have already signed last year’s second-rounder Marko Simonovic. He is expected to add versatility, youth and athleticism to the frontcourt.
If two of the Bulls’ frontcourt additions to the roster next season are Simonovic and the drafting of Bassey, Chicago will have added two promising pieces without breaking the back or taxing their salary cap situation.
We’ll see if Bassey moves out of the Bulls’ range or if the team likes him enough to move up a few spots if needed.
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