The first step of the off-season for the Chicago Bulls has come and gone with the NBA Draft taking place in Brooklyn, New York. Chicago is in a cross roads, with rumors of breaking up this current core via a Zach Lavine trade after a disappointing season. Fans were bracing for a potential block buster deal, but nothing came to pass. The new incoming collective bargaining agreement has made it difficult for teams to take on players with large salaries due to the restrictions of a new second luxury tax apron.
So with that option gone, most fans expected the Bulls to do nothing with the limited resources Arturas Karnišovas had coming into the night. Despite coming into the draft with no picks for this draft, the Bulls were still able to participate due to a trade with the Washington Wizards. The details of that deal are still up in the air, with the Wizards holding onto a ton of guards they are looking to move.
Outside of Phillips, the Bulls were able to add two more players via two-way deals in the hours and days after the draft had concluded. Lets go ahead and take a look at three newest members of the Chicago Bulls.
Julian Phillips - 6'8 Forward - Tennessee
I remember looking at my phone surprised that the Bulls had traded for this pick. After not trading up for Cam Whitmore, who fell all the way to No. 20 after being projected top 10 pick, I was expecting no activity from the Bulls and for them to sign some guys out of undrafted free agency. However, low and behold the Bulls front office decided to do something and selected Phillips.
Phillips is the prototypical selection for this Bulls regime, a guy who is young, can defend right away but has concerns about his shooting. The 19-year-old was a one-and-done player at Tennessee and his stats aren't all that impressive. The Texas native put up 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 41.1% from the field and 23.9% from the field. Phillips could be a good shooter, but really only as a catch-and-shoot guy, not someone who will create his own shot.
The former five-star recruit is a great defender and is comparable to Derrick Jones Jr according to NBA Draft Net. With Jones declining his player option, the Phillips selection makes total sense. The only thing that would make this selection a good one is if the Bulls can finally develop shooting in a young player.
With the Bulls hiring Peter Patton as a player development coach, it is possible for this to become a steal in the second round.
Adama Sanogo - 6'9 Center - UConn
The Final Four Most out-standing player from the National Champion UConn Huskies is now a Chicago Bull. Sanogo comes in as an undrafted free agent on a two-way deal. This is now the second year in a row where the Bulls have added an talented forward from the Big East (Justin Lewis - Marquette).
The Bako, Mali is a physical force down low after averaging 7.7 rebounds per game. The frame matches that intensity as he stands 6'9 and 245 pounds, which make him a strong presence in the low post and with his back to the basket. While that isn't the style of the NBA anymore, Sanogo started taking three pointers this season (1.3 per game) and knocked them down at a 36.5% clip. With a 76.6% at the free throw line, there is some hope that his three point shooting could transfer to the NBA.
Sanogo isn't all power, he has a really good soft touch around the rim as well, giving him a very dynamic set of offensive tools. As a Marquette fan, I know how much Sanogo can give a team on any given night.
There are some defensive concerns with Sanogo despite the improvement over the last two seasons, but this feels like a back-up plan if Andre Drummond decides to not take his player-option and doesn't return in free agency.
While I don't think Sanogo will reach the heights of his days in college, he can become a solid back-up level center that will bring a good scoring punch off the bench.
Onuralp Bitim - 6'6 Forward - Bursaspor (Turkey)
While not officially a draft pick or undrafted free-agent, I am including Bitim here as he was added just a few days after the draft and I felt like this was the best place to talk about him. The Bulls were able to sign Bitim to a two-way contract thanks to the new CBA allowing teams to have three two-way contracts, with the two others being last years undrafted free agent in Justin Lewis and Sanogo.
There have been some conflicting reports on Bitim joining the Bulls as of the writing of this article, but let's assume that Bitim will be joining Chicago.
This is where the first step to shooting help for the Bulls here. Bitim has the complete offensive package, scoring off the dribble, in transition and in catch-and-shoot situations. This past year, he played for Bursaspor in the Basketbol Süper Ligi in Turkey. He averaged 17.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game on 45.0 percent shooting from the field and 36.6 percent shooting from behind the three-point line.
While he won't be a lockdown defender, he still is a willing defender and that is good enough. While he won't be the starting point guard off the rip for the Bulls, but he could be a contributing player from day one.