As the Chicago Bulls navigate all of the rumors surrounding free agency and Zach LaVine, they must also focus on the NBA Draft on June 23. Now less than a month away, the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago just wrapped on May 22.
The truth is, though, that those rumors could play into what they do in the draft with the 18th overall pick.
Washington is the latest one-and-done prospect for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 12.5 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.5 rebounds last season. He also averaged 1.3 steals per game while starting 29 of 31 contests.
TyTy Could be the Bulls’ Guy
Cowley begins from a common position this offseason, the Bulls’ unique three-point disparity. They were the fourth most-efficient team from beyond the arc during the regular season. But they took the fewest threes in the NBA.
In the playoffs, they took the third-most threes but hit them at the second-worst rate among the field.
The first-round playoff loss to the Bucks was a reminder of how badly the Bulls need three-point shooting, especially off the bench….Don’t be shocked if the Bulls draft a versatile shooting guard – such as Kentucky’s TyTy Washington Jr. or Malaki Branham – with the 18th-overall pick.
Washington shot 35% from beyond the arc last season (45.1% overall). During the SEC Tournament, Washington averaged 21.0 points with 4.5 boards, 2.5 assists, and 2.0 steals while knocking down 41.7% of his triples.
He came crashing back to Earth in the Wildcats’ lone NCAA Tournament contest, finishing with just five points on 20% shooting including 1-of-8 from outside.
Called the “best point guard” in his draft class by Forbes’ Zachary Cohen, Washington received similar praise from the Basketball News staff. They note that he spent more time off the ball this season and expect him to be the first point guard off of the board.
Washington…sets the tone for his team and provides value as both a facilitator and scorer. Even when pushing the pace, Washington plays under control and seldom makes poor decisions leading to turnovers. He is only 6-foot-3 and lacks elite athleticism, but he routinely gets his shot off from deep with smooth mechanics and a quick release.
Adding to the Calvary
The Bulls’ bench had just Coby White to “rely” on last season. White shot a career-high 38.5% from outside during the regular season but hit just 27.6% in the playoffs. He could be on his way out entering the finals season of his rookie deal.
Moving White is more palatable after Ayo Dosunmu showed better touch from three as a rookie than anticipated, knocking down 37.6% of his threes.
Cowley also notes that a return to health for starter Lonzo Ball will go a long way. He shot 42.3% from outside last season but only appeared in 35 games. Cowley also believes the Bulls could lean this way if the LaVine exit rumors become harder to deny.
Either way, the Bulls still need help for the reserves.
Will the Bulls look to flip whatever player they select as part of a larger package for a more proven commodity? Or are they looking to draft a ready-made contributor to help improve on the margins?
If they choose the latter path Washington could be the answer.
The Bulls will have the mid-level exception, worth $10.3 million, per Blog-A-Bull’s Alex Kirschenbaum. They will otherwise be limited even if LaVine leaves.
Bulls Options Create Questions
This may not be on the level of trade proposals that change the Eastern Conference landscape. And the Bulls have yet to work Washington out among the several prospects we already know of including Memphis’ Josh Minnot.
But Washington does have a 6-foot-8 wingspan and a tenacious demeanor on the defensive end to go with his budding three-point prowess.
Those things would easily put him on the shortlist for many teams in the league. That and the added financial benefit should have him at or near the top of the Bulls’ list if he were to fall to them.