Continuing with my breakdown of five players Chicago Bulls fans should keep an eye on in each region of the NCAA Tournament – next up is the East Region.
Mikal Bridges – Guard/Forward – Villanova
The 6’7″ Junior from Villanova has taken an incredible leap forward this season.
Last year, as a sophomore, Bridges averaged a little less than 10 points per game. This season? Bridges is averaging 18 points and 5 boards. He’s also shooting an extremely efficient 52 percent from the field and 43 percent from three.
Bridges would fit in nicely alongside Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine out on the wings and would give the Bulls a much-needed scoring addition. Bridges is a likely lottery pick so the Bulls would have to reach for him with their first pick, but it just might pay off.
Here’s Bridges knocking down a clutch three in overtime of the Big East Championship game:
He’s also drawn some comparisons to Kawhi Leonard and that guy is… decent I guess?
Collin Sexton – Guard – Alabama
While Sexton may not seem like an ideal fit with what the Bulls have now – if they find themselves in a “take the best player available” scenario, Sexton just might be that guy.
Drawing comparing to Russell Westbrook with his speed and raw athleticism, the guy is a freak on the court.
He’s averaging 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists during his impressive freshman campaign for Alabama.
He even managed to win a crucial game for his team in the SEC Tournament by going coast-to-coast for a phenomenal finger-roll. This play might have been what secured his team a spot in the big tourney.
Sexton struggles to stretch the floor (shooting 34 percent from three) but he doesn’t struggle to get to the hoop and make plays for himself or teammates. In that sense, he reminds me a lot of last years #5 overall draft pick – De’Aaron Fox.
Daniel Gafford – Forward/Center – Arkansas
Gafford might be one of the most realistic picks for the Bulls. He’s a 6’11” freshman with insane athleticism. He can score the ball and protect the rim – a seemingly wonderful combination next to the budding star, Lauri Markkanen.
Gafford would be a guy the Bulls could target with their second, first-round pick from the Pelicans – depending on how many games the Pelicans lose.
Oh yeah, you know how I mentioned his insane athleticism? Well…
Yeesh. That’s all I have to say about that.
Gafford is averaging 12 points, 6 rebounds and over 2 blocks per game.
While Robin Lopez is a good fit for now, there’s no question that the Bulls need a young guy to play up front with Lauri Markkanen for the future. A non-ball dominant guy like Gafford seems like the perfect fit.
Landry Shamet – Guard – Wichita State
The 6’4″ sophomore from Kansas City is having a terrific season. He’s averaging 15 points and 5 assists per game while shooting an efficient 50 percent from the field.
He’s also a knockdown three-point shooter. Shamet is shooting 46 percent from three on nearly 6 attempts per game.
While the Bulls already have their point guard of the future in Kris Dunn, having a trustworthy backup point guard is proving to be more and more important to a teams success in the NBA.
Shamet is a guy the Bulls could reach for with their second, first-round pick if they feel as though they can’t trust Cameron Payne or Jerian Grant with the backup point guard duties long term.
In my opinion, Shamet is going to be a much better backup point guard and floor general than either of those two guys, but is it worth the first round pick?
Zhaire Smith – Guard/Forward – Texas Tech
While Zhaire Smith might be a guy that many haven’t heard of, let’s not discredit his potential at the next level. There’s still a chance that the Freshman returns to Texas Tech for his sophomore season, but with his impressive athleticism, I could see him declaring for the draft.
Even though he’s only 6’5″, he plays bigger than his height due to his length and explosiveness. Check out these two outrageous plays (one on the defensive end, one on the offensive end).
While Smith would be somewhat of a reach for the Bulls in the first round, if the Pelicans keep winning, the pick might make more and more sense.
I’m not exactly sure how he would fit in with this current Bulls lineup but talent is talent, and sometimes you just have to find a way.