Prospects Bulls Fans Should Watch in March Madness 2021

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 18, 2021

Prospects Bulls Fans Should Watch in March Madness 2021

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    For the first time in a long time, Chicago Bulls fans aren't dreaming about the NBA draft in the middle of March.

    Instead, they have both eyes on the postseason, as Zach LaVine's All-Star ascension, Lauri Markkanen's absurd efficiency and coach Billy Donovan's early impact rank among the top factors in the team's opportunity to secure its first playoff spot since 2017.

    These Bulls are pretty good and pretty fun. That might sound like the faintest of praise, but considering where this club was in recent seasons, this marks significant progress.

    Saying that, the organization is nowhere near where it wants to be. The talent pool must continue to fill for this franchise to even entertain championship dreams.

    The Bulls will have the chance to deepen it with a mid-first-round pick this offseason. Fans can soon get an early look at some draft-night possibilities, with the following three players set to tip off the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Jaden Springer, PG/SG, Tennessee

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    While guard isn't the first need that comes to mind with Chicago, the Bulls could use another backcourt piece to build with alongside LaVine and White. Not to mention, this franchise might like its roster enough to see no holes requiring immediate attention, freeing it to take the best-player-available route.

    No matter how the Bulls get there, they could have high interest in Jaden Springer. He's young, he's versatile and he plays both ends of the court. Fitting him with one or both of LaVine and White would be easy.

    It's unclear just how much he will help as a scorer and distributor at the next level, but he will contribute in both areas, and Chicago already has several players doing heavy lifting with one or both. That should free Springer to find his footing as an off-the-dribble creator, powerful finisher and strong point-of-attack defender. He hasn't taken many threes (1.9 per game), but he has splashed an impressive amount out there (44.4 percent).

    Springer and the fifth-seeded Volunteers open tournament play Friday against 12th-seeded Oregon State (4:30 p.m. ET on TNT).

Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    Chicago should be in the market for wing depth. Scratching that itch with a flamethrower like Corey Kispert could help turbo-charge the offense.

    The 6'7" senior forward is the best shooter in this draft. He was a marksman before, but this season's shooting rates are ridiculous: 54.4 overall, 44.4 from three, 89.8 at the line. He might be a shot-making specialist, but if you're going to have a specialist in the modern NBA, is there any better kind?

    A three-point threat off the catch and off the dribble, he's the kind of sniper who requires the full attention of opposing defenses every time he's on the floor. The more eyeballs drawn his way, the fewer opponents will have to keep track of LaVine, Markkanen, Coby White and Patrick Williams.

    Kispert's top-seeded Bulldogs open tournament play against the First Four winner of Norfolk State and Appalachian State on Saturday (9:20 p.m. ET on TBS).

Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Franz Wagner is the kind of prospect who could yield a healthy return on investment now and maybe a huge one in the future.

    He's an effortless fit in the modern NBA as a 6'9" forward with strong two-way skills.

    He's a 38.4 percent shooter from distance, and his mechanics suggest that number could improve. He's a clever ball-mover who's more than doubling his 1.3 turnovers with 2.9 assists. He's smart away from the basketball and explodes through cuts when left unattended. Defensively, he's a disruptor. He averages better than one block and one steal per game.

    "Now fully comfortable at the college level, Wagner has more or less delivered on the promise he showed as a teenager in Germany, adding muscle and playing an unselfish style that should translate nicely into an NBA role,"'s Jeremy Woo wrote. "His combination of size and skill at both forward spots makes him a malleable fit, and he's still just 19 years old."

    Wagner and the top-seeded Wolverines start against the Mount St. Mary's-Texas Southern winner on Saturday (3 p.m. ET on CBS).