I'll admit it. I'm an NBA draft junky. Even during this crucial stretch of the season, it's hard for me not to think ahead to what is the best night of summer. As part of an ongoing blog series, I thought it might be fun to do a quick evaluation of possible draft picks come June. Right now, I'm working under the assumption that the Knicks will stay around the 9th pick (TYI, TYI, TYI!) and the Bulls won't see a major roster shakeup. Obviously, all of this is subject to change: the Knicks could miraculously win the putrid Atlantic, the Bulls might swap for a PF, the lottery could get screwy etc. But for the sake of argument, I'll examine a few players that might be available in Isiah's/Paxson's area.
Draft Prospect One: Julian Wright
(Full disclosure: Wright and I attended the same high school
and are friendly, which is not to imply that we are really tight. Giving Julian love is not the reason for the post. I promise).
Many Bulls fans might be pretty familiar with the local product turned Jayhawk who took his high school team to the state finals his junior season, only to be beaten by Shaun Livingston's Peoria squad. Illinois and Arizona were finalists in the recruiting sweepstakes until Self got back into the mix. As legend has it, Bill showed up in Chicago Heights and convinced Julian to enroll at KU in three hours flat -- JuJu had never stepped foot on the Lawerence campus. It's turned out to be a good decision. In his sophomore year, Wright (along with Chalmers and the widely overrated Brandon Rush) have lead the 6th ranked Jayhawks to a 19-3 record. Julian is putting up consistent numbers (11.1, 7.8, 2) and has shown flashes of brilliance, particularily in a win
against the defending champs from Gainesville.
**Athleticism -- The thing that stands out immediately about Julian is his athletic ability
. He is not a small kid (6'9" with an enormous wingspan) but he can do things with the ball most guys 6'4" wouldn't even try. He's quick, coordinated and has good bounce, which creates lots of matchup problems given his ability to play all five positions on the floor.
**Character -- Julian is truly a stand up kid. Read this profile in the Kansas City Star
if you don't believe me. He's extremely friendly, down to earth, he works hard and he's a great teammate, something we all know Pax and Skiles value.
**Court vision -- Draftnet
's first three descriptions all detail his passing: "For his size, he is a tremendous passer able to make impressive plays … Unselfish player who gets his teammates involved in the offense ... Excellent court vision, sees the floor with ease." There was a reason that Kaun got all of those easy buckets at the start of the last year. He would fit easily into the Bulls' motion offense.Cons
**College -- The truth is that despite predictions as high as seventh in the lottery, Julian might not enter for another year. He and his mom are intent on earning that degree, which he should do in three years. While his family is certainly not rich, they appear to be financially stable, meaning they can afford another year of subsidized college life.
**Weight -- He's listed at 225, but that is a joke. Until he develops a little more upper body strength, he might face some problems establishing position inside.
**Offensive polish -- Unlike the equally athletic Tyrus, Julian is very skilled on the offensive end. However, his perimeter shooting is still inconsistent, despite his deceivingly high shooting percentage (54 percent).
While an inticing option, Wright might not be the best option for the Bulls. Like many guys on our roster, Julian could be an outstanding compliment to a good low post scorer, but he's not a guy with tons of available moves on the block. That being said, he's more gifted than anyone we have at the 4 and is smart and skilled enough to play within the offense. Either way, we might have to wait until 2008 to dream of Julian in red and black.