Bulls have to de­cide if what they have at po­si­tion is enough

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - JOE COWLEY jcow­ley@sun­ | @JCow­leyHoops

Eval­u­at­ing point guards as they make the leap to the NBA is hard enough, but the 2020 draft class com­pli­cates things even more with no clear, dom­i­nant stand­out.

There’s the flash and ridicu­lous po­si­tional size of LaMelo Ball, the throughthe-roof bas­ket­ball IQ of Tyrese Hal­ibur­ton and the mys­tery of in­ter­na­tional player Kil­lian Hayes.

Even the sec­ond tier of play­ers at the po­si­tion — Cole An­thony, RJ Hamp­ton and Theo Male­don — are in­trigu­ing.

The big­ger ques­tion, how­ever, is why the Bulls still are shop­ping for a point guard. There are three pri­mary rea­sons.

First, they traded two play­ers who could han­dle the po­si­tion in Der­rick Rose and Jimmy But­ler. Sec­ond, they banked on Kris Dunn liv­ing up to his hype as the fifth over­all pick in the 2016 draft when they em­barked on their re­build. Third, when Dunn didn’t pan out, they drafted Coby White sev­enth over­all last year, even though he is a nat­u­ral shoot­ing guard.

What ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions Ar­turas Kar­niso­vas and gen­eral man­ager Marc Ever­s­ley have to de­cide is whether they have enough point-guard play in-house that they can look else­where in the draft this fall.

The price tag for Dunn’s qual­i­fy­ing of­fer bumped up to $7.1 mil­lion, thanks to the salary-cap mod­i­fi­ca­tion brought on by the coro­n­avirus, so the Bulls could get one more sea­son with him, es­pe­cially if they want to build their team around de­fense. And while the score-first White is raw at point guard, maybe he has a high ceil­ing there.

What­ever path the Bulls choose, how­ever, one thing has be­come very clear: They need con­sis­tency at point guard.

Here are the top point guards avail­able in the draft, should the Bulls de­cide that is their best op­tion:

1. LaMelo Ball

It hasn’t been the de­vel­op­men­tal jour­ney most prospects take — go­ing from Cal­i­for­nia to Lithua­nia to Ohio to Aus­tralia, all the while liv­ing in the Big Baller shadow cast by dad LaVar — but Ball, 18, made it.

At 6-7, Ball — the younger brother of Pel­i­cans point guard Lonzo Ball — con­trols the game with his change of speed and un­canny court vi­sion. His out­side shoot­ing is a work in progress, but he is a will­ing de­fender and great re­bounder. He’s a triple-dou­ble wait­ing to hap­pen each time he steps on the court.

2. Kil­lian Hayes

Need a left-handed fin­isher with an im­prov­ing out­side jumper? Hayes, an 18-year-old who grew up in France and plays in Ger­many, is your guy.

Hayes is not the ath­lete Ball is, but he has shown he can see the floor, play-make and get his own bas­ket, when needed. Scouts think his right hand will come, as will his tough­ness on the de­fen­sive end, and Kar­niso­vas is well-versed when it comes to in­ter­na­tional play­ers.

3. Tyrese Hal­ibur­ton

He might be the best fit for the Bulls’ back­court be­cause he’s there to al­low scor­ers to score, first and fore­most. Hal­ibur­ton, who played at Iowa State, is a win­ning player who knows where and when to get team­mates the ball.

He some­times strug­gled beat­ing bet­ter ath­letes off the drib­ble and needs to be more will­ing to take con­tact, but he would make shoot­ing guard Zach LaVine’s life much eas­ier, es­pe­cially late in games.

4. Cole An­thony

An­thony is go­ing to make a team’s bench bet­ter right away, but he is an aw­ful fit for the Bulls. Not only does he share the same col­lege pedi­gree as White — North Carolina — but he, too, looks to shoot first and ask ques­tions later.

He’s the fourth-best point guard on most boards, but the Bulls drafted a player like him last sea­son.


LaMelo Ball Tyrese Hal­ibur­ton Cole An­thony

Kil­lian Hayes

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