Potential 2017 Draft options for Chicago Bulls: Miles Bridges, Alpha Kaba

The 2017 NBA Draft features two outstanding, yet underrated draft prospects in Miles Bridges of Michigan State and Alpha Kaba of France, whom Gar Forman could look at as a possible late pick.

If the Chicago Bulls keep either Dwyane Wade or Rajon Rondo as their interim veteran playmaker for a two-year, step-ladder run at the Eastern Conference Finals and beyond, they will need a better power forward than Taj Gibson. Gibson may be traded by the February trade deadline, and Bobby Portis might be the option the Bulls thought he’d be when he fell into their lap.

Gar Forman and John Paxson just scouted a Duke-Notre Dame game earlier this week to potentially look at Duke’s Jayson Tatum, a one-and-done lottery stud, who has an unstoppable mid-range game and is as smooth as silk.

If the Bulls move Jimmy Butler for a lottery pick, they may be looking at Tatum, a deadly mid-range shooter, or they could go for an even bigger name in Lonzo Ball, a pass-first point guard from the run-and-gun system of Chino Hills High School and UCLA, who can pull from Stephen Curry range at times.

But, if the Chicago Bulls go deep in this year’s playoffs and make up for lost time, when all three Alphas get their game together, it will affect their draft positioning, going as far as the 20’s if they reach the quarterfinals. Prospects at this level are still good and there are two guys I really like as role-playing guys fit for a Hoiball team.

Miles Bridges, F, Michigan State

Miles Bridges has been touted to be as fearless as Charles Barkley and built almost like him.

He loves attacking the rim no matter who the wall is. He has tried to show a bit from 3-point range (actually shooting 41.4 percent from the college 3 this season) and isn’t afraid to mix it up in the paint. With decent ball-handling for his size and a developing 3-point game, Miles Bridges is tall, long and athletic.

According to DraftExpress, he is averaging 16.3 points per game and 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists with a 23.3 Player Efficiency Rating. He is rated lower on other NBA mock draft lists and may fall in the 16-20 range by June.

Alpha Kaba, Mega Leks (France)

Alpha Kaba is a taller power forward with a finesse game, shooting the 3 and rim-running, as well as playing excellent ball coverage in passing lanes and on opposing ball-handlers. The 21-year-old Frenchman is 6’10”, but rather light at 226 pounds. He does have an unbelievable 7’5.25″ wingspan.

Kaba has 31 games under him in the Champions League of Euro basketball and plays for Mega Leks International. He’s scoring 10.8 points per game and 8.7 rebounds.

He can put the ball on the floor almost like Milwaukee Bucks duo Giannis Antetokounmpo and Australian phenom Thon Maker, which makes him a project with higher upside than his contemporaries in the draft who have better numbers at his playing position.

Kaba is better than the prospects assigned by NBA draft sites for the Chicago Bulls, namely Creighton’s freshman center Justin Patton. Kaba has better hands receiving pocket passes and lobs and he can score off pick-and-rolls with fast-twitch rim attacks even when getting an awkward pass.

Alpha also runs the floor smoothly like Cristiano Felicio and his body type works in his favor unlike Patton, whose herky-jerky post-up moves may get him hurt as he bulks up when he grows into his frame. Kaba has a body like a young Dominique Wilkins and almost the same explosiveness, which he may learn to exploit with exposure and development in his current team.

Both players may fit whatever role is needed when Wade opts out or if Butler is traded for better teammates, plus possible lottery picks that can land Tatum or Ball. If the Chicago Bulls end up with three or more draft picks, either Alpha Kaba as a backup rebounding or Miles Bridges will work in favor of the Bulls.

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