REAL STICKING POINT
Bulls have to decide if what they have at position is enough
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