Here we go. With the 22nd pick Thursday in the 2015 NBA draft, the Bulls…pass?
Certainly not, but if I could I would. Not just letting the pick go. If I were the Bulls, I’d try to trade the first round pick for a future first in, say, 2018 or 2019. Find someone who wants to get into this draft. Certainly, they’d want lottery protection and perhaps to No. 20 in a deal. That’s OK. I don’t see much help for the Bulls in this draft. The likelihood is that whomever is selected will sit on the bench all season.
Better to pick up another veteran with a minimum salary to fill that spot. The Bulls have done great with those kinds of signings, like Aaron Brooks, Nate Robinson and D.J. Augustin.
Not that the Bulls are loaded and a certainty to reach the 2016 NBA Finals. But the Bulls have a deep team with plenty of youth and no real openings in their depth chart.
The Bulls, effectively, will be trying to work two near rookies into the rotation next season in Doug McDermott, who basically didn’t play in his rookie season after minor early season surgery, and Nikola Mirotic, who wasn’t in the regular rotation until about midseason. Plus, there should be a regular role as well for Tony Snell, whose playing was in stops and starts. It’s time to find out whether to keep him going forward.
The Bulls prime offseason move has been the hiring of Fred Hoiberg.
Not so much that he is replacing former coach Tom Thibodeau, but that the Bulls likely will alter their style of play with more speed and pace and shooting. Plus, individual playing time will likely diminish.
The narrative has been the Bulls were overloaded in the front court and needed to create room for Mirotic to play. Thus a trade of Joakim Noah or Taj Gibson was reasonable, the speculation went. But that’s really unnecessary as Pau Gasol likely will play fewer minutes per game than last season while Noah could well come off the bench like Andre Iguodala with the Warriors. The Warriors and Iguodala showed starting doesn’t matter as much as playing your role and being a good teammate, and that coming off the bench can enhance your reputation and value as much as starting.
With Noah heading into the last season on his contract, coming off the bench as a center likely will make him more effective and valuable. Plus, with Gibson undergoing ankle surgery, he certainly is off the market as far as trades.
Though the Bulls were not said to be considering it, there was national speculation the Bulls could or would package their No. 22 pick with Gibson and move up in the draft. That’s obviously not possible with Gibson’s surgery, and it seems virtually certain the Bulls stay at No. 22 and use their pick.
Even with my suggestions to trade ahead. Imagine that.
The reason I suggest that is I believe this group has a two-year title window. The contracts of Derrick Rose, Gibson and Gasol expire after the 2016-17 season. I also think that’s another reason Jimmy Butler is considering a two-year deal. He likely sees a possible restructuring at that point. Obviously, if the Bulls win in that time things change and contracts are extended. But if they don’t, perhaps you move on and with the enhanced salary cap make a major move into free agency and then have draft picks for extra leverage and sweeteners to make deals.
Because the roster is pretty set now.
Rose and Butler start in the backcourt and Butler will return. The only question is whether it’s for one, two, three or five years. They’ll be backed up by the newest Brooks/Robinson/Augustin as well as Snell.
The Bulls likely will try to resign and bring back Mike Dunleavy and he is said to be inclined to return. He’d be backed up by McDermott. Then you have the four big men—Gasol, Noah, Gibson and Mirotic—up front.
Kirk Hinrich likely will return on a player option along with E’Twaun Moore and Cameron Bairstow, who both have partial guarantees for next season.
That’s 13 players, and if the Bulls use their draft pick that’s 14. Given the Bulls will be well into the luxury tax with a multiplier on players brought in above that amount, they’ll likely keep the roster at 14.
So free agency probably will consist of a resolution with Butler for some period and later in the summer adding a backup guard. At this point, it doesn’t seem likely the Bulls can trade for a future pick.
The conventional wisdom is the Bulls would most like a point guard in the draft. But they won’t stretch to get one. Their success selecting players in the 20s has been built on taking the best player who falls to them no matter the position. They’ll probably lean to a point guard if it’s close, but they could select a player with a different skill. After all, if you’re not playing this season how much does it matter what position you are not playing at?
First, here are the players who certainly figure to be taken before the Bulls pick: Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, D’Angelo Russell, Kristaps Porzingis, Emanuel Mudiay, Justise Winslow, Trey Lyles, Cameron Payne, Mario Hezonja, Willie Cauley-Stein, Stanley Johnson, Frank Kaminsky, Bobby Portis, Myles Turner, Devin Booker, Sam Dekker and perhaps Tyus Jones.
Here’s a look at 10 possible and hoped for choices:
- Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: The swing guard who’ll be an NBA point guard is probably a dream pick because he’s ready to play and a playmaker. It’s unlikely he slips as far as No. 22, though after the top 15 there’s always plenty of uncertainty.
- Rashad Vaughn, UNLV: The shooting guard is a favorite of many mock drafts for the Bulls under the theory the Bulls need shooting (though McDermott is better). But as young as he is and already with meniscus surgery doesn’t sound promising to me.
- R.J. Hunter, Georgia State: Most scouts believe he’ll be taken before No. 22, but because he shot poorly from three last season and is thin and wiry from a small school there are some questions. But coach’s son, good shooter, big shot maker. He’d be a nice pickup and could well be there when the Bulls pick. And as it’s said more and more in this NBA as it always has been, you always can use shooting.
- Delon Wright, Utah: He is the mock draft consensus pick for the Bulls (see below) and even my guess for the Bulls back in May on lottery night. He’s a big point guard who can defend, older and mature and who can run a team. There’s a strong chance if he’s there and no one major slips he could be the pick as he makes sense even despite the mock draft experts thinking so as you know we don’t get many correct.
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona: Not the sort of player you’d figure the Bulls would want, a wing player with a Ronnie Brewer shot. But physical and a heck of an athlete who generally has been slotted by talent in the teens. But because of lack of shooting range could fall into the 20s and then probably tough to pass up with defense and athleticism.
- Tyus Jones, Duke: Probably won’t get to the Bulls given teams just ahead like Houston and Dallas are looking for point guards. But he’s a bit small and just an OK shooter, so he could slip. More the true point guard and floor leader type, poised and with success in big games. He’d be a nice fit to bring along as a solid backup.
- Justin Anderson, Virginia: Another mock draft favorite for the Bulls given his strong shooting ability from long range, good defensive ability on a defensive team and likelihood he will be there. Excellent size for a shooting guard, though considered also a small forward prospect. A lot of the speculation about the Bulls assumes Butler will leave and thus the need for another shooting guard or small forward. But Butler probably will sign at least a short term deal.
- Kelly Oubre: The kind of guy who also might slip given he didn’t play that much, only about 20 minutes per game. If teams with needs like point guards are trying to fill, a swingman like him can fall and would be a fortunate addition as unlikely as it seems with some speculation he could go as high as late lottery. Good size for a small forward with length and a decent shot.
- Terry Rozier. Louisville: One of those typical Rick Pitino players with no certain position, but a great athlete and scoring type. Came in as a smallish shooting guard developing into a point guard, and it’s rare when those guys become actual point guards. Though this is a scoring point guard era. Didn’t help him coming up very small in the tournament and thus perhaps more of a project.
- Jarell Martin, LSU. Some scouts rate him higher than his general bottom of the first round consensus. A prototype power forward unless now that means a stretch four. Just an OK long distance shooter, but strong and quick but short armed which limits shot blocking.
Here’s a roundup of mock drafts and their picks for the Bulls at No. 22:
- Big Lead: Rashad Vaughn
- Bleacher Report: Kevon Looney
- ESPN: Delon Wright
- NBA Draftnet: Justin Anderson
- Draft Express: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
- Hoopshype: Justin Anderson
- SB Nation: Delon Wright
- NBA.com: Delon Wright
- Yahoo: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
- Walter Football: R.J. Hunter
- CBS Sports 1: Delon Wright
- CBS Sports 2: Rashad Vaughn
- Masslive.com: Jerian Grant
- NY Post: Delon Wright
- Comcast DC: Delon Wright
- Sporting News: Delon Wright
- Sports Illustrated: Delon Wright
- LA Times: Justin Anderson
- Turfwood.com: Jakob Poltl
- Michiganlive: Rashad Vaughn
- Draftsite.com: Kelly Oubre
- Mynbadraft.com: Rashad Vaughn
- Draftsite.com: Kelly Oubre
- Philly.com1: Delon Wright
- Philly.com2: Kevon Looney
- Philly.com3: R.J. Hunter
- BasketballInsiders1: Kevon Looney
- BasketballInsiders2: Justin Anderson
- BasketballInsiders3: R.J. Hunter
- BasketballInsiders4: Terry Rozier
- NBAdraftroom.com: Guillermo Hernangomez
- Fueledbysports.com: R.J. Hunter
- Fanspeak.com: Montrezl Harrell
- Sportswire: Jerian Grant
- Bigfootsports: Jerian Grant
- Draftutopia: Mario Hezonja
- Brightsideofthesun: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
- Hoopstuff: Delon Wright
- Wright: 10
- Vaughn: 4
- Hunter: 4
- Anderson: 4
- Hollis-Jefferson: 3
- Grant: 3
- Looney: 3
- Oubre: 2
- Rozier: 1
- Harrell: 1
- Hernangomez: 1
- Poltl: 1
- Hezonja: 1