Proposed Trade Gives Bulls Chance at 2020 NBA Draft Do-Over

Chicago Bulls

Getty Isaac Okoro #35 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates after scoring

The Chicago Bulls selected Patrick Williams with the fourth-overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft. As he heads into his third NBA season, the Bulls are putting a lot on his shoulders despite his turning 21 years old on August 26.

But Williams was not the popular projected choice leading up to that draft.

Much of the conversation before the draft centered around LaMelo Ball possibly sliding and Obi Toppin as well as international prospects Deni Avdija and Killian Hayes.

There was also a lot of smoke around Auburn’s Issac Okoro. The Bulls went in a different direction but there could be an opportunity for another crack at Okoro who was drafted to the division-rival Cleveland Cavaliers.

Coby White for Isaac Okoro?

Okoro is a 6-foot-6 wing that was highly touted for his work on the defensive end leading up to the draft. In that sense, it was not too hard to see why the Bulls took Williams who has many of the same traits but is bigger and seven months younger.

However, a season filled with injuries showed how thin the Bulls were on players that could do what Williams can on both ends of the floor.

There could be another way to guard against that courtesy of Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley.

Bulls Get

  • Isaac Okoro

Cavs Get

  • Coby White
  • 2nd Rd Picks x2 (2026, 2027)

“Okoro needs to find some offense to stick in this league, but it makes more sense for the Bulls to take that gamble and potentially solve a need than it does to keep another score-first player like White around. Conversely, Cleveland might prefer White’s scoring punch over Okoro’s stopping skills, particularly if the Cavs don’t plan on re-signing Collin Sexton.”

Okoro averaged 8.8 points and 3.0 rebounds during the regular season. That was a step back from his production the previous seasons but it coincided with a dip in his minutes. He shot 48% from the floor and 35% from beyond the arc.

White had a career-year in efficiency in 2022 knocking down 38.5% of his triples. He averaged nearly 4.0 PPG more than Okoro but the latter’s defensive rating was four points better.

Bulls Slide Tied to Health

Is the defense-for-offense trade-off worth it for the Bulls? They were atop the Eastern Conference for much of this season with the current core group of players last season.

“There were multiple reasons why Chicago’s 2021-22 campaign veered off course,” says Buckley, “but the simplest is this: The defense completely fell apart. Between October and December, Chicago went 23-10 and had the Association’s 10th-best defense. From that point forward, though, the Bulls were just 23-26 and plummeted to 27th in defensive efficiency.”

The Bulls lost Lonzo Ball to a knee injury on January 14 against the Golden State Warriors – a blowout loss – in the same game that Zach LaVine injured his knee which required surgery this summer.

Reserve guard Alex Caruso was out since December 20th with a foot sprain and played two games before sustaining a wrist injury that kept him out until March.

Williams went down five games into the campaign and would play just 27 games all season.

“Adding a tenacious defensive presence like Okoro could help safeguard Chicago from a similar free-fall. In fact, the Bulls could get plenty disruptive on defense in lineups featuring him, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Patrick Williams.”

Ball is still dealing with a bone bruise in his knee. But Caruso and Williams have both been very active this summer with the former specifically working to improve his durability.

A Win-Win Scenario

As with any trade, it is easy to get a deal beneficial for one side. The trick is coming up with something that helps both teams enough that they agree. That can be tricky when talking about division rivals.

Even though those designations don’t hold as much weight as in MLB or the NFL, there is still no love lost between the teams.

But the Bulls did trade Lauri Markkanen to the Cavs in a three-team deal for Derrick Jones Jr.

Perhaps that pre-existing relationship can grease the wheels on a deal that could stand to pay off for both sides.

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