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Bulls miss out on top three in 2023 NBA Draft

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Chicago Bulls 2023 2nd Round Draft Pick Julian Phillips. (source: NBA)

After trading two second-round picks to Washington, the Chicago Bulls selected Julian Phillips from the University of Tennessee in Thursday’s, June 22, NBA Draft.

Now before we get into the reason the Bulls drafted Phillips with the 35th overall pick, let’s talk about what other writers had to say about the top three picks. This year’s Draft featured three generational talents. And according to USA Today, the group shared a strong analytical breakdown of how those top three generational talents will impact their teams. Let’s get to it!

With the first pick of the 2023 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs drafted international sensation Victor Wembanyama of “Metropolitan 92.” Standing over 7 feet tall, Wembanyama’s height alone isn’t the strongest attribute of his game. He will have success in other areas as well.

“To no surprise, the French phenom is selected with the first overall pick, instantly making the San Antonio Spurs must-watch television,” said USA Today. “He dominated the court while playing in France’s top professional level, leading the league in points per game (21.6), rebounds (10.4) and blocks (3.0).”

At 7-foot-4, the group shared that Wembanyama’s athleticism, shot-making ability and defensive prowess is something few have seen in NBA history, and executives believe it won’t be long before he’s one of the best players in the league.

With the 2nd pick of the NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets selected Brandon Miller from the University of Alabama.

The group said the national freshman of the year brings length to Charlotte and will become another exciting young piece for the Hornets.

“Miller was a clear NBA talent in his lone season with the Crimson Tide, averaging 18.8 and 8.2 rebounds per game, while also showing some range from beyond the arc,” said USA Today. “Miller has the size to be a disrupter on defense, but what’s going to be the key to his success is having a consistent shot. When Miller gets hot, it’s tough to stop, and he’ll complement LaMelo Ball well by playing on the wing.”

Going No. 3 to Portland, G League Ignite sensation Scoot Henderson will be a franchise player in the near future.

The group stated that if it weren’t for Wembanyama, Henderson had all the capabilities of being the first overall pick. The first player to sign with the G League Ignite for two seasons, Henderson is explosive with the ball and can shake off defenders at will. He averaged 16.1 points per game last season, and his mid- range shooting is some of the best in the class. Another explosive guard may be what Damian Lillard needs to make the Trail Blazers a contender, as the backcourt becomes one of the most exciting in the league, the group said.

Now back to the Chicago Bulls:

Some may ask, why would the Bulls draft a 6-8, 198-pound forward with a 43-inch vertical and great leaping ability. Answer: Derrick Jones Jr.’s replacement. The Crusader asked Bulls President of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas and General Manager Marc Eversley the reasoning and logic behind selecting another athletic wing over a sharpshooter, which the team dearly needed.

“It played a bit of a factor no doubt,” said Eversley, after drafting Phillips with the 35th overall pick of the second round. “DJ (Derrick Jones Jr.) for everything he brought to the floor, his athleticism, length, and ability to get out and defend multiple positions. Julian fits a lot of those same attributes. As we sat up there and went through it, and figured out who was available and who wasn’t, it played a little bit of a part you know. Again, they are both very similar in terms of style of play, and we are excited about bringing him into the fold.”

According to the Chicago Bulls, Phillips averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 24.1 minutes through 32 games (25 starts) during his lone season at Tennessee.

Phillips scored in double figures in 13 games, including a career-high 25 points to go along with eight rebounds against USC on November 24, which helped lead to a 2022-23 Battle 4 Atlantis All-Tournament Team selection. He had two double-doubles and grabbed double-digit rebounds in three contests in 2022-23.

Phillips went on to earn All-SEC Freshman Team honors, ranking sixth in the SEC in defensive rating (91.1) and free-throw shooting percentage (.822). Phillips was the only Tennessee player during the 2022-23 season to record at least 20 steals and 15 blocks (20 steals, 17 blocks).

Born in Killeen, Texas, Phillips was rated as the nation’s No. 13 prospect by ESPN and Rivals for the Class of 2022 and was a 2021-22 McDonald’s High School All-American. During the 2023 NBA Draft Combine, he posted the highest vertical leap (43 inches) of any participant.

Phillips is the son of Kim and Chamberlain Phillips, who both served with and retired from the U.S. Army, according to the Bulls.

Although the Bulls would miss out on the top three picks of the NBA Draft and got word that Lonzo Ball will be out for the 2023-24 NBA season, the positive is they were able to find Derrick Jones Jr.’s replacement.

Sports Editor at Chicago Crusader Newspaper | + posts

Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.

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