Monday, June 22, 2009

Who Should the Bulls Draft?

Honestly, I have no frickin’ idea.

It’s not that there aren’t players I like or identifiable needs for this current Bulls team. But, at the same time, possible trades/Gordon’s free agency has left this Bulls team in such potential flux that those needs could change in an instant. Out of the eight core players on this team (Rose, Gordon, Hinrich, Salmons, Deng, Tyrus, Noah, and Miller), only Rose and Noah seem to be absolute locks to be here by the start of the season. (And, probably, Miller, though a team eager for cap space might be looking to snatch him up ‘round the next trading deadline.)

Anyway, I’m just going to sketch out some possible team scenarios and suggest draft picks according to those. Let’s begin with:

A) The Bulls trade Hinrich for Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw (Ignoring the part about swapping picks, which would obviously be madness.)

I like this trade for a number of reasons: It gives the Bulls a perfectly competent backup veteran PG for one year at half the cost of Hinrich; the addition of Outlaw means that should the Bulls need to package either Deng or Salmons with (say) Tyrus in a supposed blockbuster deal for Bosh or Stoudemire, they’ll have a viable backup at the 3; and it frees the Bulls from the last two years of Kirk’s contract.

But this trade doesn’t end the need for a relatively cheap, long-term backup for Rose, and I think it obviously makes a lot of sense to use one of the 1st rounders in this year’s draft to do just that. Though I don’t mind the due dilligence, reaching for Wake’s Jeff Teague, VCU’s Eric Maynor, or UNC’s Ty Lawson with the 16th pick (as Sam Smith hints at here) doesn’t make much sense to me. Much preferable is Smith’s other suggestion: Florida’s Nick Calathes with the 26th pick.

Calathes will play in Greece next year, but that works perfectly in tandem with this proposed deal; we get Blake’s more polished services for one year, then bring in a much cheaper (and somewhat more seasoned) Calathes after that. As far as Calathes’ game goes, I like it. Offensively, he’s a very creative passer who has good 3-pt. range and can really finish inside at the hoop. He’s not as quick as Hinrich, and I don’t see him being a good NBA defender at all, but for a backup swing guard playing 15 min. a game or so, he should be fine.

Assuming this trade doesn’t happen for whatever reason, and the Bulls ultimately trade Hinrich for a player who can’t spell Rose, I’d be cool with taking UCLA’s Darren Collison with the 26 pick, who I think will be a perfectly adequate backup NBA point guard.

SCENARIO B) The Bulls fail to re-sign Ben Gordon
This scenario appears increasingly likely, and, quite frankly, it freaks me out. I wouldn’t be so concerned if the Bulls had a coach with an actual offensive scheme, but since VDN’s “scheme” appears to consist of the high pick-and-roll and “let guys play one-on-one,” then it’s kinda a big problem to lose perhaps our best one-on-one offensive player (as well as our best three point shooter).

In any event, by this point, the Bulls should have a pretty decent notion of whether they’re going to be able to re-sign Ben. And if they don’t think they are, they need “insurance” in this draft, and no, contra Chad Ford, FSU’s Toney Douglas will not suffice. To believe he can in any way replace Gordon’s production goes beyond wishful thinking, and lands firmly in the realm of magical thinking. (Although considering Pax appeared to have similar ideas w/r/t Jameson Curry, we cannot rest assured that Bulls execs reside do not reside in that realm.)

Real insurance (in asmuch as one might be able to acquire such in this pretty weak draft) comes from one of three players: James Harden, Stephon Curry, and, to a lesser extent, Gerald Henderson. At their current position, the Bulls have no chance at the first two and only an outside shot (at best) at Henderson. That’s why, if the Wiz would bite, I like the idea of sending Kirk and the 16 pick to Washington for the 5, Etan Thomas, and Javaris Crittendon.

It’s no guarantee Harden will be there at the 5, but I think Stephon Curry might be a better (or at least more apt) replacement for Gordon than Harden. Indeed, I believe he’ll be similar to Gordon as far as being a hard-to-characterize offensive force, but he’ll probably have the same trouble guarding a lot 2s that Gordon has. Harden has the physical tools to be a good defender, but, as this post notes, his shooting is somewhat worrisome, and, with Rose, the Bulls don’t really need an off-guard who can initiate the offense. As for Henderson, I don’t think he’ll be a great offensive player, but his game could evolve into a foul-drawing slasher’s (like Corey Magette’s), and he has the length to be a terrific defender at the 2. Much different than Gordon, but adequate in his own way.

SCENARIO 3: The Bulls Stand Pat
I think this is unlikely, but I suppose it’s possible they bring roughly the same team back that they had last year. In this case, I really like DaJuan Blair, whose phenomenal college rebounding projects nicely for the pros. However, most mock drafts have him gone by 16, so I guess I could settle for (gack!) Tyler Hansborough, who, despite being one of the most annoying dudes on the planet, I think will probably turn out to be a semi-decent frontcourt rotation player, a la Glen Davis. His jumper looked to be improving last year, and I like how he can score inside w/out really jumping (i.e., by shooting with either hand from almost any odd angle). If you’re unathletic, you at least need to be skilled, and I think Hansborough is that (as well as—yay!—a hard worker).

I suppose I also wouldn’t care too much if the Bulls went in the entirely different direction and, instead of going for Hansborough’s high floor/low ceiling, took B.J. Mullens, who in three years could be either Brook Lopez or Patrick O’Bryant.

One dude I’m not enamoured with is James Johnson, one of the fattest players in the draft, who strikes me as an unathletic Tyrus Thomas. (And, of course, he’s the name being thrown around as someone the Bulls might be willing to trade up to get.) I suppose if you’re ultimately looking to swap Tyrus in a deal for Bosh or (perhaps) Stoudemire, then I’d be okay with this pick, but as the roster is currently constructed, Johnson seems redundant to me.

5 Comments:

Blogger mrberg said...

Great post. Definitely some huge decisions about the direction of the team need to be made this summer.

As for the draft, I can't claim to have followed their college careers too closely, but how can you call Johnson fat and praise Blair? Johnson 6'7" (no shoes), 257 lbs, Blair at 6'5.25" (no shoes), 277 lbs. Both at 12% body fat. I'm having trouble getting over my visions of Mike Sweetney and buying into Blair.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed about Blair, but (at least to me) that's offset by the fact that he's a beast on the boards. If Johnson were as good a rebounder as Blair, I probably wouldn't have mentioned it, but seeing as he projects as a tweener forward who will play a fair amount on the wings, I see the body fat % as a problem.

9:02 AM  
Blogger BenGo07 said...

The above post was me, by the way.

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