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While all the anticipation and activity of July free agency hovers, the business ahead is the NBA Draft on Thursday. Here’s a look at perhaps not so much what the Bulls will do but what the Bulls should do.
They have picks Nos. 16 and 19 in the first round and probably would like to trade up for a late lottery pick. That rarely occurs and would usually cost a pretty good player. So that’s highly unlikely. Assume the Bulls are using those picks. They should get a good player at No. 16 and at No. 19 maybe take someone to play overseas or trade for a future No. 1 unless someone else is there who makes sense.
The Bulls greatest need, obviously, is scoring and shooting. They also need to select an older player as coach Tom Thibodeau has made it pretty clear over the years he’s not playing teenagers. And he probably shouldn’t as with Derrick Rose’s return from injury, the Bulls don’t need to be a training ground any longer.
The best shooters in the draft are guard Nik Stauskas from Michigan and Doug McDermott from Creighton. They’ll both be gone well before the Bulls’ pick; probably both in the top 10 or 12. The Bulls probably would also like a shot at Michigan State guard Gary Harris, and probably would take him even if he came in somewhat disappointing at about 6-2 ½, a bit short for a shooting guard. But he’d be a good addition who could help immediately. It’s unlikely he slips to No. 16, though possible. Elfrid Payton is a high riser on the draft board and probably gets taken before No. 16. Not a good shooter, but a 6-3 junior point guard who makes things happen and worth taking.
So for the players who should be available when the Bulls select, here’s some they should seriously consider:
C.J. Wilcox, Washington: Generally considered a player more in the 20’s, but teams make a mistakes looking at the draft that way. How about Taj Gibson at 26 and James Johnson at 16 in the same draft? Wilcox is a terrific shooter, ideal size about 6-5 and a 23-year-old senior. They shouldn’t be looking for Reggie Miller but someone to help now.
Jordan Clarkson, Missouri: Though not a great shooter, he has a good stroke and shot over 80 percent on free throws. So he’ll get there fast enough. But a good enough ball handler to play point guard as well with good size at about 6-4, which is more important in the NBA these days in running multiple pick and rolls, like the Bulls do. He’s a junior and just turned 22.
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut. Considered another player to be slotted in the 20’s given his size under six feet. But everyone loves his competitive nature, ability to play pick and roll and see him as a Kemba Walker type who’ll make big shots and plays. Small guards have excelled with a lot of teams and as a senior turning 23 next month he’ll be ready to contribute.
Rodney Hood, Duke. Seen as a lottery pick by some, though he could slip as he’s regarded as an awful defender and not aggressive. Very good shooter, but could be a bit too passive for the Bulls after the experience with Tony Snell. Just a sophomore and one reason the Bulls probably are looking more at upper classmen is Snell probably still is a rookie in experience and the Bulls could add Nikola Mirotic, who would be an NBA rookie. You can’t have that many rookies and be a serious contender.
James Young, Kentucky. Good size and shot, though a bit erratic and streaky. Are you ready to rely on him? That would be the question as he could slip down as well. Left handed and athletic, he has the ability to develop more. But would he get the opportunity as the Bulls need a reliable shooting guard now? Probably worth a shot if available.
T.J. Warren, North Carolina State. More a scorer than shooter, which you don’t want to hear. But does have that knack for finding points. You can teach a lot of things, but you need to find scoring. He’s sort of a two/three tweener on skills with good size about 6-8 and long.
P.J. Hairston, D-League. Bounced from North Carolina and a sort of full of himself type; perhaps stint in D-League taught him some modesty. Can really shoot and score, about 6-5 and strong but hoping he’s not J.R. Smith.
Jordan Adams, UCLA. Sort of an old school shooting guard with more of a mid-range game. Good size and shooting ability.
Dario Saric, Croatia. The versatile, skilled big man signed for at least two years in Turkey. If he’s there at No. 19, you assume the Bulls would take him as the equivalent of a top five pick by the time he’s ready to come to the NBA in two or three years.
I’ve heard a lot of mentions for Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, but as a stretch four that’s Mirotic’s position. Plus, Payne doesn’t look much like an NBA starter. You’d think the Bulls would avoid the athletic Zach LaVine, who screams baby and project. Also from UCLA like LaVine is Kyle Anderson, a multi-skilled player who is said to make Roy Hibbert look fast. Other names who could come up but seem unlikely are Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant of Syracuse, Cleanthony Early of Wichita State and Glenn Robinson III of Michigan.
Not that the many mock drafts are indicative of anything or have any real idea of what teams will do, but here’s a sampling from around the web of the mock drafts for picks 16 and 19:
NBA Draft Net: Elfrid Payton, Adreian Payne
Draft Express: Rodney Hood, Tyler Ennis
Bleacher Report: Rodney Hood, Shabazz Napier
ESPN: Adreian Payne, Shabazz Napier
USA Today: T.J. Warren, Jordan Clarkson
Sports Tank: Tyler Ennis, Jarnell Stokes
Sports Network: James Young, P.J. Hairston
Yahoo Sports: Shabazz Napier, Gary Harris
CBS Sports Parrish: Kyle Anderson, Elfrid Payton
CBS Sports Harper: Elfrid Payton, Dario Saric
CBS Sports Moore: Nik Stauskas, Tyler Ennis
Basketball Insiders Kennedy: Tyler Ennis, James Young
Basketball Insiders Brigham: Gary Harris, Shabazz Napier
Basketball Insiders Kyler: T.J. Warren, Jordan Clarkson
Basketball Insiders Koutroupis: Tyler Ennis, James Young
NBA.com Aldridge: James Young, Zach LaVine
NBA.com Howard-Cooper: Tyler Ennis, K.J. McDaniels
Sheridan Hoops: James Young, Clint Capella
Sporting News: James Young, Tyler Ennis
Sports Illustrated: Rodney Hood, Shabazz Napier
NBA Draft Insider: Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Anderson
Fox Sports Amico: Gary Harris, Cleanthony Early
Philly.com: Elfrid Payton, Tyler Ennis
SB Nation: Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams
NBA Draft Room: Tyler Ennis, Jusuf Nurkic
Drafttek.com: Zach LaVine, Doug McDermott
Draftsite.com: Rodney Hood, Tyler Ennis
CSN Houston: Adreian Payne, Elfrid Payton