Central intelligence could catch up to Bulls in the next three yearson June 23, 2021 at 4:15 pm

There’s the possibility of grabbing a point guard like a Daishen Nix.

Or maybe the Bulls go the draft-and-stash route for the second straight summer, targeting a Rokas Jokubaitis or Roko Prkacin – the youngest player in the 2021 draft.

Whichever direction executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas chooses with the 38th overall pick in next month’s draft, however, expect it to feel a bit empty.

That’s not to say that Karnisovas doesn’t have the scouting chops to unearth a second-round gem. See Nikola Jokic and the 2014 second round, when Karnisovas was the assistant general manager for Denver.

But there are far more Paul Zipsers and Cameron Bairstows in Round Two than landing an impact All-Star like a Jokic or a Draymond Green.

That’s just draft reality.

The other reality the Bulls now have to deal with in the wake of Tuesday’s lottery results? Guess which Eastern Conference division is about to be infused with some potential star power?

Life in the Central could be getting a bit tougher for the Bulls the next few seasons, with Detroit landing the top overall pick next month, and the Cleveland Cavaliers getting No. 3.

Not that anyone is ready to challenge Milwaukee for Central supremacy, but the Bulls could at least count on Cleveland and Detroit being perennial cellar dwellers the last few seasons.

That likely won’t change with just one more draft class, but the division could definitely look different in three years.

Here’s why with a lottery mock draft:

1. Detroit – Cade Cunningham – PG – Oklahoma State – The Pistons added three solid future role players in Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes in last year’s draft, and now have a guard with generational-talent potential in Cunningham.

2. Houston – Evan Mobley – C – USC – Mobley has a much different physical build than Deandre Ayton, but has a very similar athleticism when it comes to shot-blocking and defending smaller players on the switch.

3. Cleveland – Jalen Green – SG – G League Ignite – Would the Cavs go backcourt once again? Why not, especially with an explosive scorer like Green. This could also make Darius Garland or more likely Collin Sexton available for trade.

4. Toronto – Jalen Suggs – PG/SG – Gonzaga – With Kyle Lowry expected out the door, the Raptors grab his replacement for the point guard position. The Bulls sob.

5. Orlando – Jonathan Kuminga – F – G League Ignite – An athletic wing that can play either forward spot is just what the rebuilding Magic ordered.

6. Oklahoma City – Scottie Barnes – F – Florida State – Like the Bulls’ Patrick Williams did in his one season at FSU, Barnes came off the bench but showed high-ceiling potential as a top recruit in the country.

7. Golden State – Davion Mitchell – PG – Baylor – The Warriors are in win-now mode, so all Mitchell will be asked to do is remain one of the top perimeter defenders in the draft class.

8. Orlando – Keon Johnson – G – Tennessee – Right behind Green as far as explosive scorers, as Magic cash in on the Bulls’ pick.

9. Sacramento – Moses Moody – F – Arkansas – Defense is NBA ready, while his offense is the wildcard.

10. New Orleans – James Bouknight – G – Connecticut – Elite scorer for a backcourt that could be elsewhere in free agency.

11. Charlotte – Franz Wagner – F – Michigan – High-intensity, high-IQ versatile forward.

12. San Antonio – Jalen Johnson – F – Duke – Versatile forward who can play-make and defend.

13. Indiana – Josh Giddey – PG/SG – Adelaide (Australia) – Brings an uncanny court vision and passing to a backcourt and does so at 6-foot-9.

14. Golden State – Corey Kispert – F – Gonzaga – Of course the Warriors add the best outside shooter in the draft.

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