Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Chicago Bulls Appear To Have Their Eyes Set On One Draft Prospect


The 2021 NBA Draft will kick off in just two days. At this stage, a lot of Bulls fans have checked out of this year’s draft considering the Bulls don’t have a first-round pick. The Bulls lost the rights to that pick in the trade for center Nikola Vucevic. This means the Bulls won’t have a pick until the second round. They currently have the 38th pick in the draft on Thursday. During the team’s offseason period they have met with a lot of prospects. As we are nearing closer to the draft it looks like the Bulls are narrowing in on one prospect in particular.

The prospect getting the most attention from the Bulls appears to be Auburn forward JT Thor. His official Combine measurements are 6’8.5” barefoot, 6’9.25” in shoes, 9’2.0” standing reach, 203.0 lbs, and a staggering 7’3.25” wingspan. He played in one season at Auburn and is only 18 years old. We are going to take a look at Thor’s strengths and weaknesses to see if he fits on this Bulls squad.

JT Thor’s strengths

For starters his last name is a plus, just imagine the Marvel crossovers if this kid turns out to be a stud. Getting into the specifics of Thor his wingspan is a huge plus. He has the reach and height to be able to be a combination power forward/center. His size also allows him to be valuable on the defensive end of the floor and guard both forwards and centers. His length and wingspan allowed him to get into a lot of passing lanes and stop possessions on the defensive side of the floor. Overall Thor’s stats don’t paint the full picture but he finished his one season at Auburn with 9.4 PPG, 44.0 %FG, 29.7 %3FG, 5 RPG, & 1.4 BPG. He has impressed NBA teams during his NBA Combine performances. Mainly showcasing his size, athleticism, and shooting potential.

Thor is another player who is raw offensively but shows a ton of upside. The most intriguing part about him is what could be. At Auburn, he showed the ability to come off screens and get to the rim effectively. While his time at Auburn wasn’t breathtaking he had big moments that showed his potential. His draft stock has continued to rise the closer we get to the draft. A lot of that has to do with what we have seen this offseason.

There’s a lot of room for Thor to grow. Some might see that as a negative while others think he could be a key contributor in the future. With all this upside we still need to cover some of his flaws.

JT Thor’s weaknesses

The #1 flaw that Thor has is his weight. He weighed in at just 203 pounds officially and at his height, he is going to get pushed around in the paint. Luckily for Thor, that’s something that can and would be worked on once he enters the league. I mean Giannis Antetokounmpo entered the league at 210 and look at him now. Thor would absolutely need to bulk up if he’s going to defend forwards and centers in the league. In the current state, he would get tossed around by bigger forwards in the league especially in the paint.

The next glaring weakness for Thor is that he’s a project. He won’t come in and make a difference right away for an NBA team. His offensive skills are still raw and the game at times looked too quick for him. He is going to be someone that a coaching staff would need to work with to polish his offensive skills. At times in his year at Auburn, he would settle for pull-up shots and bail out the defense. The potential is absolutely there but it will take some time to get himself to an NBA level of offense. If teams are able to be patient with Thor then he’s a good pick-up in the 2nd round. But his offensive game has to improve for him to be even a fringe bench player.

Thor’s fit with the Bulls

This is where the Bull’s offseason moves will dictate his fit. He’s obviously a 2nd round pick so he wouldn’t be expected to start or contribute to the team right away. But his fit on the team as a bench player is still intriguing. The Bulls are likely going to part ways with forward Lauri Markkanen. However, depending on what they do in free agency they may also need to part ways with center Daniel Theis. While the team added 2020 2nd round pick Marko Simonovic to the team they would still be looking for another option at the PF position. Thor may fit that role for them. He would come at a low cost and already has the height to fill the position. Again this all depends on what the Bulls do with their current free agents.

This team does have a few young players that are still figuring out their way in this league in guard Coby White and forward Patrick Williams. Adding a third player who needs time to figure out their place may not be the best move. However, this is a classic draft prospect that offers a ton of upside but could never pan out. If Thor can bulk up and work on his offensive abilities his potential is sky-high. He would also be given the opportunity to take a back seat offensively when surrounded by All-Stars Nikola Vucevic and Zach LaVine. Not to mention whoever the Bulls bring in at point guard. The Bulls front office has no fear when it comes to developing new talent. With Thor’s potential being as high as it is if he’s around at 38 the Bulls will likely go for it.

Conner Grant
Lifelong Chicago sports fan raised in Las Vegas. Purdue University graduate. An engineer by trade, Bulls superfan by choice.

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