07 April 2011
Even though the Bulls are in the playoffs, and the regular season isn't complete yet, I'm always looking at the NBA draft. Part of the reason is that Marquette has had some success in the draft and the NBA recently, and the other part is that I'm always interested to see who the Bulls would get.
Early entries have been announced, and even though some players haven't hired agents yet, we have a pretty good feel for who is staying in the draft.
In this post, we're going to assume the Bulls will keep its three draft picks. As of today, the Bulls hold picks 25, 28 and 42. By assessing needs and draft strength, we should be able to come up with a pretty solid group of people that they could take.
Shooting Guard - Keith Bogans is bad at basketball, and while Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver are great off the bench, the Bulls could certainly find a better player to play 15 minutes than Bogans. A shooter would be the best fit here, and a decent defender. Someone in the Courtney Lee mold, since the Rockets won't part with him unless we move Omer Asik.
Small Forward - Luol Deng has played great this year, especially in 2011, and has been a key cog in the Bulls machine. The Bulls wouldn't be where they are today without Luol. That said, Luol has an injury history. He's only played all 82 games once in his seven year career, and even though he may play/start all 82 this year, he's no guarantee in the future. The Bulls could use a slasher.
Bulls Draft Strategy:
This year's class is weak at shooting guard, which is the Bulls biggest weakness. The class is strong at the athletic 4 spot. There could be some sleepers late, but the Bulls best strategy might be to take the best available player.
Players Available at 25 and 28:
Travis Leslie - Georgia 6'4'' 205 SG/SF
Leslie is regarded as one of the best athletes in the nation. He can finish around the rim, he can defend with physicality and great hands and he is really dangerous in transition. His perimeter shooting leaves a lot to be desired from a 6'4'' guard, but he's improved over his three years in school. Worst case scenario, Leslie turns out to be a Rodney Carney. Best case, he turns out to be Ronnie Brewer. Is that what the Bulls need? No, not necessarily, but he could be a real player if he learns how to create his own shot.
Nolan Smith - Duke 6'3'' 185 PG/SG
At the start of the season, I compared Smith to Chris Duhon in terms of NBA potential. Smith proved me wrong this year, scoring over 20 points per game, and showing he could run an offense. Smith is a better fit than Leslie for the Bulls because of his catch-and-shoot ability. He could also spot Derrick Rose or CJ Watson at the point. On defense, he does what he can for being an average athlete. He shows a willingness to defend, but his size and length might be a challenge in the NBA. Paxson and Gar like to draft winners from big time college programs, and Smith is definitely that. His high basketball IQ would really hepl the Bulls
Chris Singleton - Florida State 6'8'' 210 SF
Singleton passed up a chance to go in the top 20 last year, and didn't do a whole lot to help his stock. Injuries and foul trouble limited him this year, but a late NCAA run helped him. Singleton, a former McDonald's All American, can shut down your best player. His length and lateral quickness make him a great defender. His offensive game is developing, and it's a game that can develop as he only plays 8-10 minutes as a rookie. If Tyrus Thomas can shoot jumpers, there's a ton of hope for Singleton. He does have a solid post-up game, as well. If Singleton were to fall to 25, the Bulls would have a real nice player in a few years.
Jimmy Butler - Marquette 6'7'' 220 SF
Butler was the senior leader for the Golden Eagles in 2010-11, filling the boxscore on a nightly basis. Butler might be as good of a defender as Singleton, and Butler's stock is rising. Want proof? He held the best player in the country to an 8-24 shooting night at home in the XL Center in Storrs, Conn. He then shut down Marshon Brooks after he scored 52 vs. Notre Dame. Tu Hollway? Yep. Rick Jackson? Yep. With a developing offensive game, Butler would be a perfect fit for the Bulls. He can get to the free throw line, he hits free throws, can shoot open threes. This Bulls team doesn't need much more out of the backup SF position, but Butler can give you a ton more.
We'll add more players when we get more time.
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