With the 44th pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, the Bulls took Serbian Center Marko Simonovic. He’s a 6’11” 220 lb big man who has been playing internationally since 2017. However, Bulls fans shouldn’t expect to see him for at least a year.
AK on Marko Simonovic: "We're going to stash him for at least a year. But we were really excited to draft him… he was 51% from the floor, 41% from three, averaged 16 and 10 in the Adriatic League… After collecting all the information, we identified Marko as our target at 44." pic.twitter.com/vZjVBWVMiR
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) November 19, 2020
There was confusion shortly after the pick was made. There’s another Marko Simonovic who currently plays in the European league. He is 34 years old and when you google search for Simonovic and his stats you get the 34-year-old player. This had a lot of people believing the Bulls had just spent a draft pick on a 34-year-old.
No, Marko Simonovic is not 34 lol.
He is a 21-year-old big man who plays in Serbia who apparently has a good shooting stroke. This is a draft and stash pick. Get used to these types of picks with AK, though. He knows international talent.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) November 19, 2020
This was quickly corrected across Bull’s twitter and everyone began actually analyzing the 21-year-old Serbian big man.
Why stash a draft pick?
The main reason why Bulls Executive Artūras Karnišovas is probably stashing Simonovic is that he isn’t ready for the NBA just yet. Allowing him to stay another year playing internationally gives him more time to develop. It also allows the Bulls to see what they have with the current makeup of the team. The Bulls may even use him as trade bait later on down the road. With international players, there can be uncertainty about how their game will translate to the NBA. Doing this allows them to continue developing and gives the Bulls more time for evaluation. This will allow the staff to see how he would fit with the current roster.
Breaking down the stats
During the 2019-2020 season Simonovic played in 24 games and averaged 16.8 PPG, 50.9 FG%, & 8.0 RPG. He’s currently playing for KK Mega Bemax in the ABA League. So far into this season, he has appeared in 7 games and is averaging 16.3 PPG, 51.4 FG%, & 9.6 RPG. He is a solid center in the ABA league and is continuing to put up impressive stats. Over the last three seasons, he has seen his points average go up by 10 points per game. His rebounding has also improved drastically. He appears to be on the right track and will be given more time to develop with KK Mega Bemax this season. He’s a versatile big man who can step out and shoot the three. That portion of his game is developing and will continue to develop this season. He’s currently shooting 41% from three-point range.
When should we expect to see Simonovic?
That all depends on how long they want to keep him in the ABA.
Marko Simonović will be stashed "for at least a year," Karnisovas says.
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) November 19, 2020
Karnišovas said he would be stashed at least a year. He left himself some room by saying at least. That means he could be kept in the ABA for more than a year. Ideally, the Bulls would give him one year and then bring him to the NBA. If they deem he isn’t ready or won’t fit then they may end up moving him. The best guess as to when we will see Simonovic is sometime next season. He definitely won’t be suiting up this year since he’s already playing for KK Mega Bemax. If after this season the Bulls believe he would be a valuable piece for the team Karnišovas will certainly have him on the next plane to Chicago.
It can be frustrating to have to wait to see a draft pick but Karnišovas has a good track record with international players. Hopefully in this case we see that continue. We won’t truly get an evaluation of Simonovic until he makes his way to Chicago. That could be one or even two years from now. We will continue to monitor how he’s doing this season with KK Mega Bemax.