The Chicago Bulls hope to find a hidden gem in the 2020 NBA Draft
Hope can be a dangerous thing, but right now it is a good thing that the people of Chicago have at least some hope in their beloved Chicago Bulls now thanks to new vice president Arturas Karnisovas. With the recent success of the Denver Nuggets, the hope is that Karnisovas will bring those methods over to Chicago.
This is actually exciting regardless of what there is to say about hope. Karnisovas was a great hire by the Bulls because he was involved heavily across the entire building of the Nuggets since 2013. A team completely built from smart free-agent signings, trades, but most importantly brilliant scouting.
The Nuggets built a core of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Micheal Porter Jr., Will Barton, and Gary Harris through the NBA Draft with only one of their players coming in the top 10. That player was Murray. This bodes well for a Chicago team that has been bad but not bad enough to earn a top-five pick in recent years.
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The real crown jewel of Karnisovas’ time with the Nuggets though is their young superstar Jokic who Karnisovas and Nuggets executive Tim Connelly scouted and discovered in Europe. That’s what is most intriguing of the Karnisovas hire, his acumen for international scouting.
For people who don’t know Karnisovas he actually has a lot of connections to European basketball because he had a lengthy career in Europe. That career led him to connections that have given great looks at European prospects and allowed him to find players like Jokic and even former Nugget Jusuf Nurkic. Last year, Karnisovas opened up about that process with NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski on his podcast saying:
It also contributes the generation that I played with overseas [in terms of contacts]. Now, they [players I played with or against] are coaches, agents or heads of Federations, so it opens up a lot of doors and information flow. So, it helps a lot. When we travel, we’re trying to maximize watching talent; where to go, who to watch and [try to] project these kids in our league.
What does this mean for the Chicago Bulls?
This is a big thing for the Bulls this year because there’s a lot of European talent in this draft. Karnisovas’ eye for the European game could lead to him finding an overseas prospect that could actually be a long-term building block for the future.
Players like Killian Hayes, Deni Avdija, Theo Maledon, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Leandro Bolmaro headline a deep European talent pool for this year’s draft. Karnisovas is the right guy to come in and be able to mine out the best of that talent.
Karnisovas’ relationships overseas may get him information on players that other teams might not be lucky enough to get from their scouting methods. In a draft with no clear consensus on players, it will take a lot of work from team executives to actually find a star.
With a top 10 pick and Karnisovas’ eye, there’s a chance he could do that with a prospect from Europe. Adding just one great talent from overseas that other teams might have missed could be what brings the Bulls young core over the top.
The methods also bode well for the future, as even if the Bulls begin to gain success Karnisovas can still find diamonds in the rough late in the draft.
Chicago Bulls’ outlook
This Bulls team actually feels to be on the upswing now thanks to Karnisovas at the helm. If he continues to put a lot of team resources into the draft than the team will have better luck than they have had in recent drafts.
There’s something to be said about the process of putting small-market GMs into larger ones because they can operate with smart techniques they learned to keep up with while also having more resources. If done right it can lead to great success.
Karnisovas hopefully will continue the focus on the draft, while also continuing to find under-utilized talent in other organizations too. Add to that the market of Chicago, and the lure of returning Micheal Jordan’s former team to the top and the Bulls might be able to actually lure in a star.