When it comes to NBA draft rumors, you can’t believe everything you hear. Aran Smith suggested in his latest mock draft on NBADraft.net that the Chicago Bulls promised Boise State forward Chandler Hutchison they’d pick him No. 22 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft.
No local or major national reporter has verified that this is true, but the speculation still led to plenty of discussion by fans who are either vehemently against the idea or wouldn’t mind taking a flyer on the mid-major standout.
However, one possibility has yet to be suggested, and it’s worth thinking about. Could the leaks be a form of gamesmanship by the Bulls and/or Hutchison and his camp?
While Boise State isn’t a noteworthy college basketball program, Hutchison showed plenty of pro potential in his four-year collegiate career. During his senior campaign, he averaged career-highs of 20.0 points, 3.5 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game en route to a second consecutive year on the All-Mountain West first-team.
Hutchison is a long, 6-foot-7 small forward who would certainly fill a void on the Bulls’ roster. He has the makings of a solid defensive wing with a decent outside shot.
No one is looking at him as a star but instead as a decent player who could fill a valuable role. Not to mention, he fits the safe, upperclassman profile that VP John Paxson and GM Gar Forman have often defaulted to in past drafts.
Still, GarPax making a guarantee to pick him makes no sense. Perhaps there was some miscommunication. Maybe the Bulls hope Hutchison could fall to them, and the front office stated their desire to him and his people. Because there would be absolutely no benefit by any team making a guarantee, especially to a projected late-round pick.
What if a major fringe prospect, say someone like Collin Sexton or Miles Bridges, slips out of the top 15 and keeps falling? The Bulls would be foolish to pass on those type of players if one of them is available at the 22nd pick.
While GarPax are guilty of making some questionable moves collectively during the last 15 years, it’s very doubtful even they would pass on a high-end prospect who would fall in their lap.
So why make a promise you might not be able to keep? Everyone would understand why they would renege on that, but doing so could damage their reputation with agents and players around the league.
Do you face outcry for selecting a “safe pick” over a bigger prospect, or do you risk upsetting Hutchison and his agent and potentially damaging your reputation even further? It’s a catch-22.
That’s why all this buzz feels like a big smokescreen that both parties could be participating in.
The NBA rumor mill always is full of leaks and lies. This latest chatter over Hutchison could be smoke and mirrors by the time we get to next month’s draft. For the Bulls, leaking perceived interest at No. 22 could cause another prospect to fall or deceive teams behind them into thinking a higher-valued player will fall to them, avoiding any attempts to move ahead of Chicago.
A team below the Bulls who is interested in Hutchison also might offer GarPax a decent package to move down. An enticing deal at that spot would likely include a young established role player and a lower 2018 first-round pick or future first-rounder with some type of lottery protection.
For Hutchison, he and his people could see value in playing along with the rumors. By withdrawing from the combine and allowing the speculation to grow, it potentially improves his stock.
Think of it like a woman you wait to ask out. She’s smart, cute and funny, but for some reason you’re not making the pursuit a priority. Yet, when word gets out that another guy also is interested, you begin a full-court press.
In this case, Hutchison and his people could see a major benefit in drumming up the interest, whether it’s real or slightly embellished. It actually wouldn’t be surprising if his camp leaked all this. They’re giving teams below the Bulls who are interested a chance to move up.
Also, teams picking between No. 15-21 would at least have to ponder selecting him, knowing that a trade back into round one or a chance of selecting him in the early second round might not be available. At the end of the day, a move higher than No. 22 would mean a little extra money on his rookie contract.
With about a month before the draft, leaks and rumors will continue to surface on an almost daily basis. Many other names and trade scenarios regarding the Bulls and their No. 7 and 22 picks will be reported. That’s the nature of the NBA.
Until any of the rumors actually come into fruition, they’re all smokescreens for now. And in the NBA, it’s a bigger likelihood they’ll stay that way.