Bulls Considered NBA Draft Fit for Big 12 Player of the Year

Chicago Bulls

Getty Guard Ochai Agbaji #40 of the Kansas Jayhawks handles the ball

The Chicago Bulls might want to turn to Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji in the NBA Draft on June 23. Even with Lonzo Ball’s knee and Zach LaVine’s free agency (and knee) stealing headlines, the draft is before free agency and the Draft Combine began on Monday, May 16.

We have seen suggestions that they select Auburn’s Walker Kessler, a shot-blocking 7-footer. There have also been calls to go for productive Ohio State forward, E.J. Liddell.

Agbaji could provide the Bulls with the improvement on the margins that they seek.

Especially with the growing concern around the health of the Bulls’ backcourt. He would not be a bad choice for the Bulls with the 18th-overall pick as mocked by Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley.

Heart of a Champion

Agbaji spent four years in Lawrence winning a National Championship this past season. He had 12 points with three rebounds in that game while knocking down 3-of-5 threes and notching an assist, a block, as well as a steal.

The 6-foot-5 wing led the Jayhawks in scoring averaging 18.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in his final season.

He also canned 40.7% of his looks from beyond the arc.

Agbaji averaged 15.3 points with 4.6 boards, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.1 blocks while connecting on 38.6% of his triples in the Big 12 and NCAA Tournaments. That would check off a few things on the Bulls’ offseason needs list.

Kyle Irving of The Sporting News wrote about Agbaji’s development during his time in Kansas.

At 6-foot-5, 215 pounds with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, the Jayhawks star has all of the measurables of a physical, athletic, and switchy wing at the NBA level. He always had the strength, speed, and burst, and leaping ability of an NBA prospect but his skill was lagging behind a bit, leaving his potential role as a pro in question.

That is no longer the case and Agbaji stands to cash in.

This season…Agbaji’s relentless work to improve his perimeter shooting has come to fruition. Now, he’s looking like one of the best 3-and-D prospects this year’s draft class has to offer.

Affordable, Ready-Made Contributor

One of the benefits of going after a prospect such as Liddell was that, as a 22-year-old prospect, he should be more ready to contribute right away compared to a younger prospect such as the 20-year-old Kessler who possesses more upside.

Agbaji is also 22. But that added experience showed on the court for Kansas and could translate right away.

We saw something similar with Ayo Dosunmu last season after the Bulls selected him with the 38th overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft. The difference is that Agbaji is a higher-rated prospect with a more refined skill set.

That does not mean he is without flaws, of course, as Jorrye Nixon of NBADraft.net explained.

Not particularly creative or shifty as a ball-handler, prefers to mostly go north and south with the ball having mixed results attacking set defenses when his initial move is cut off…Has been touted as a potential lockdown defender on the wing, but he has never quite been the type of playmaker on that end that his physical tools and athleticism suggest he could be in terms of forcing turnovers and getting deflections.

Instincts and some of the more skilled aspects of the game are difficult to teach. But physical tools – such as Agbaji’s 6-foot-10 wingspan – cannot be taught.

Bulls Could Go Either Way

What is so interesting about the Bulls’ offseason is also what makes it so nerve-wracking for Bulls fans. The uncertainty around Ball and LaVine while still needing to improve regardless will not be an easy list to tackle.

Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in his exit interview that the front office has proven to be aggressive and will “explore everything” this offseason. That could include the Big 12 Player of the Year and the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player in Agbaji.

While that could also very well include trading whomever they select 18th overall, they should have several options of players that could be factors next season available to them.

There is a good chance Agbaji will be one of them.

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