Joe Cowley’s annual ‘Mock Draft Surely to Go Wrong by Pick No. 4’

Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas tried his best to get another pick in the 2025 draft class last season, but whether it was waving Alex Caruso out there on the trade market or other assets, picks from the ’24 class were all that were being offered, according to a source.

It makes sense considering how stacked ’25 appears to be in comparison, but it also leaves Karnisovas and his front office in a predicament.

The Bulls owe the Spurs their first pick in 2025, but it is top-10 protected.

What that means is unless Karnisovas can be talked into keeping the Bulls a bottom 10 team this season, say goodbye to the likes of a Cooper Flagg, an “Ace” Bailey or a Hugo Gonzalez.

That doesn’t mean this ’24 draft can be a miss for the Bulls, however.

They have uncertainty at multiple positions, including the status of free-agent-to-be DeMar DeRozan, and they lack depth in key positions like center.

Karnisovas promised changes were coming to the roster, and that starts June 26 with Round 1 of the draft. Is it a great class? Not really because it’s void of can’t-miss star power. But there are gems to be found.

So here it is, the annual Mock Draft Sure to Go Wrong by Pick No. 4 … or in the case of 2024, maybe by pick No. 1:


1. Atlanta Hawks – Zaccharie Risacher – SF – JL Bourg


The luster could be wearing off Alexandre Sarr, but the Hawks are also doing a good job playing the shell game with the top pick. Do they even stay at No. 1? If they do Risacher is gaining momentum.


2. Washington Wizards – Alexandre Sarr – C – Perth


Trading former Bull Daniel Gafford to the Mavs left a huge hole in the paint for the Wizards, and Sarr would instantly make an impact on the defensive end in that vacancy.


3. Houston Rockets – Reed Sheppard – SG – Kentucky


This is where it could get interesting as the Rockets need to improve their three-point shooting (8th lowest in the league), but also need another big to throw at Denver’s Nikola Jokic. When in doubt grab shooting.

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4. San Antonio Spurs – Stephon Castle – G/F – Connecticut


If the Spurs really want Sheppard they have two lottery picks to move up, but they need bodies and Castle can develop into be an elite two-way player versatile enough to play three positions.


5. Detroit Pistons – Matas Buzelis – F – G League Ignite


Forget need. This lost franchise just needs talent and Buzelis is the best available player on the board. Donovan Clingan could also come into play.


6. Charlotte Hornets – Dalton Knecht – G/F – Tennessee


The lowly Hornets add a shooter to go along with the mix of Brandon Miller, LaMelo Ball and Mark Williams. Knecht could be the most NBA-ready scorer in the draft.


7. Portland Trail Blazers – Donovan Clingan – C – Connecticut


Teams in the West are already dealing with “Joker,” and now with Victor Wembanyama emerging adding size is a must. Don’t be surprised if a team jumps at Clingan in the top three because of his defensive presence.


8. San Antonio Spurs – Nikola Topic – PG – Red Star


How do the Spurs land the best passer in the draft class? Topic is a luxury pick because of a partially torn ACL that will make the upcoming season a red-shirt year. But make no mistake, they are building something special.


9. Memphis Grizzlies – Devin Carter – G – Providence


Marcus Smart was supposed to make Ja Morant’s life easier and that didn’t work out for either player last season. Carter can play either guard spot and defend the opposition’s best perimeter player.


10. Utah Jazz – Rob Dillingham – PG – Kentucky


Not only would he bring a proven point guard to a backcourt that needs one, but Dillingham has shown signs of being a reliable scorer.


11. BULLS – Ron Holland – SF – G League Ignite


Missing out on Knecht and Carter leaves AK with option three. Not a bad consolation prize considering Holland was once considered the top recruit in this class. His outside shooting needs some serious work.


12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Cody Williams – SG/SF – Colorado


What’s better than having one late-blooming Williams brother on the roster? Having two. With Jalen Williams on track for All-Star status, the Thunder adds younger brother Cody, who has high-reward potential.

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13. Sacramento Kings – Tidjane Salaun – SF – Cholet Basket


The Spurs could grab Salaun at No. 8 to complete the French Connection with Wemby, but if he falls he will be a no-brainer for the Kings.


14. Portland Trail Blazers – Ja’Kobe Walter – G/F – Baylor


With Clingan added at No. 7, Portland grabs the best outside shooter left and some serious insurance if they want to move off Anfernee Simons sooner than later.


15. Miami Heat – Jared McCain – G – Duke


Terry Rozier is in the training room way too often lately, and McCain can play either guard spot. He’s an elite shot-maker and fits “Heat Culture.”


16. Philadelphia 76ers – Carlton Carrington – G – Pittsburgh


With veterans Tobias Harris and Kyle Lowry both hitting the market the 76ers fill one hole with Carrington. Expect them to try and add a big-name free agent at the forward spot.


17. Los Angeles Lakers – Tristan da Silva – F – Colorado


The Lakers can go a lot of ways here, but consistent outside shooting remains a problem they need to try and solve. Da Silva does just that.


18. Orlando Magic – Johnny Furphy – SG/SF – Kansas


The Magic backcourt is overloaded with bodies but not three-point shooting. Furphy adds an outside presence to a team that struggled in that department.


19. Toronto Raptors – Isaiah Collier – PG – USC


Looking to add some flash to a stale offense, Collier not only fits that role but helps in the ball-handling department. He also adds some attack-at-the-rim mentality.


20. Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyle Filipowski – C – Duke


There is growing smoke around the Cavs moving off of either Jarrett Allen or Evan Mobley, and Filipowski could be a replacement. A big man with versatility in the play-making department.


21. New Orleans Pelicans – Zach Edey – C – Purdue


There’s no question that NOLA needs a presence in the paint, and while Kel’el Ware is an intriguing option they go with the 7-4 Edey as an instant shot changer at the rim.

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22. Phoenix Suns – Tyler Kolek – PG – Marquette


It was obvious late in games that the Suns needed a pure point guard to help facilitate the offense, and Kolek is the best one left on the board at that.


23. Milwaukee Bucks – Kyshawn George – G/F – Miami


Khris Middleton is fading from a health standpoint and George brings an instant outside shooting ability from the wing spot. He also gives Milwaukee another ball-handling option with size.


24. New York Knicks – Kel’el Ware – C – Indiana


With back-to-back picks and uncertainty with free agent Isaiah Hartenstein, Tom Thibodeau’s front office adds a versatile big that can stretch the floor.


25. New York Knicks – Jaylon Tyson – SGSF – California


A scorer from the perimeter gives Thib’s another outside weapon, but Tyson is also a competitor who loves to rebound and mix it up inside when need be.


26. Washington Wizards – Terrence Shannon Jr. – SG/SF – Illinois


The Wizards put the “fun” in dysfunction last season, and need to add an unselfish scorer to counter Jordan Poole’s shoot-first, ask-questions-later mentality.


27. Minnesota Timberwolves – Yves Missi – C – Baylor


A point guard for an aging Mike Conley makes sense here, but Minnesota is headed for cap hell and needs to possibly try and move either Karl-Anthony Towns or Rudy Gobert. Neither will be easy to do.


28. Denver Nuggets – Baylor Scheierman – SG/SF – Creighton


The high-IQ Nuggets add another high-IQ piece to the championship mix with Scheierman giving them size and shooting at 6-7.


29. Utah Jazz – DaRon Holmes II – PF – Dayton


Looking to add some athleticism to the frontcourt, the 6-9 Holmes would be a great get here to go along with former Bull Lauri Markkanen.


30. Boston Celtics – Tyler Smith – PF – G League Ignite


What does the team that has everything look for on draft night? Another outside threat of course, as Smith will be the ultimate insurance policy for an aging Al Horford and frequently injured Kristaps Porzingis.

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