Bulls Draft Wendell Carter Jr. to 'Fit Perfectly' with Lauri Markkanen

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 22, 2018

Duke's Wendell Carter Jr. pauses during a break in action against Syracuse during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Star forward Wendell Carter Jr. will get his NBA career started with the Chicago Bulls after being selected with the seventh overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft Thursday.  

Many praised Chicago for finding a great frontcourt partner for Lauri Markkanen:

Jonathan Givony @DraftExpress

Chicago has long been considered Wendell Carter's backstop at No. 7, so no surprise to see him end up here. He is a really nice complement to Lauri Markkanen's finesse game, giving them some much needed bulk up front, not to mention skill and IQ.

Tim Bontemps @TimBontemps

Wendell Carter goes seventh to Chicago. Great fit alongside Lauri Markkanen. Like the pick. https://t.co/t9bs2M1Jo4

Rob Dauster @RobDauster

Carter’s hoops IQ is so underrated. I remember back in 2015 @JustinDYoung telling me he thinks the game like Al Horford. He fits perfectly next to Lauri Markkanen ... offensively. Defensively I’m not convinced, but people that are smarter about basketball than I am are bought in. https://t.co/b5rgEjC8GK

Carter was part of Mike Krzyzewski's excellent 2017 recruiting class at Duke that also includes Marvin Bagley III, Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval.

While Bagley is the best prospect from that group, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman had Carter ranked No. 8 on his big board with this scouting report:

"Teams don't appear hesitant about Wendell Carter Jr. being more of an old-school, back-to-the-basket big during an era where power forwards and centers are now asked to play around the perimeter and switch defensively. 

"There is a belief he couldn't fully showcase himself in a lineup alongside Marvin Bagley III, Marques Bolden, Grayson Allen, Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval, given all the mouths that needed to be fed and the two other bigs also being predominantly interior players."

Carter is most comfortable close to the basket, but his ability to shoot away from the rim makes him an excellent fit in this era of the NBA. 

Wasserman compared his talent to Boston Celtics center Al Horford and said he has the potential to develop into a "fundamentally sound, efficient power forward or center who scores out of the post, stretches the floor and rebounds at a high level."

The Bulls will be hoping Carter turns that upside into performance soon as they look to become a playoff contender. He's only 19 years old with plenty of ability, so his transition to the NBA should go smoothly. 

As the Bulls look to accelerate their rebuilding process following a 27-55 record last season, the addition of Carter gives them an inside scoring presence they were sorely lacking. 

Robin Lopez was Chicago's primary center. The 30-year-old averaged 11.8 points per game but is only signed through next season. He doesn't seem like the kind of player who should be in the organization's long-term plans. 

Carter gives the Bulls a young player with star potential who will make a nice complement to Markkanen, who averaged 15.2 points per game and shot 36.2 percent from three-point range as a rookie.