Bulls Rookie Deemed ‘Not Ready’ For Major Role

Getty Billy Donovan

The Chicago Bulls need a backup option for Patrick Williams at power forward. While the Bulls used their lone selection in the 2022 NBA Draft to select guard Dalen Terry, they did sign undrafted rookie free agent Justin Lewis.

There was some thought that the Bulls could turn to Lewis, an athletic, 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward, to fill the role, but per one Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Heavy’s Sean Deveney, “he is not ready for that.”

Like many talent evaluators, the exec likes Lewis’ game, but he believes the Bulls need a veteran to fill the role.

Eastern Conference Exec Says Bulls Need a Veteran Big Man

“I was surprised he did not get drafted,” the exec admitted. “He is a guy who has gotten better as time has gone on, and he plays a game that should translate well to the NBA. Good frame, long arms (7-foot-2 wingspan), just needs to iron out his shot. But are you going to throw him to the wolves right off the bat behind Williams? He is not ready for that.”

The Bulls have maintained some roster flexibility to add some depth at the 4. However, Lewis’ time to play significant minutes for the Bulls or to even make the NBA roster rather than the G-League Windy City Bulls may not be now.

“They’ve got a roster spot, and they absolutely should get a veteran guy,” the exec said. “They can play (DeMar) DeRozan and Derrick Jones Jr. at the 4, they did that a fair bit last year, but that was out of necessity. At this point, a lot of teams are waiting to see if anyone shakes free with a buyout if any of these trades get made, that could be their play here—if you get a four-for-one deal and someone like Utah buys out somebody. I like Lewis, but they can’t go into the year counting on him to get big minutes off the bench.”

If not Lewis, then who are the Bulls’ other options?

What are the Bulls’ Options at PF?

Barring a trade that exchanges guard Coby White for a power forward, the Bulls will likely be signing a veteran off the scrap heap to back up Williams. That doesn’t mean the signing will be a failure, it just means that the time and opportunity for the Bulls to sign a veteran big whose name will move the needle has seemingly passed.

One name to consider is former Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, and Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin remains unsigned.

The 33-year-old is far removed from the high-flying inside presence he used to be when he broke into the league back in 2010-11. Griffin was a rather inefficient stretch-big in 2021-22. He averaged just 6.4 points per game while shooting a woeful 26% from long range. Griffin also pulled down 4.1 rebounds per game. That’s not exactly what Bulls fans are looking for, but there is a chance Griffin simply had a bad year. Could he have a bounceback season with the Bulls?

It’s possible, but probably not likely considering his age.

As we move closer to training camp and the preseason, it’ll be interesting to see who the Bulls target in the backup power forward role.

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