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NBA Draft Team Needs: A New Era In Chicago

Chicago will look to bolster its overturning roster with an injection of youth in this year’s draft.

This article is part of a series on NBA Draft team needs. With the NBA Draft fast approaching, many NBA franchises are narrowing in on prospects that could improve their teams for years to come. We have now reached the end of the lottery and will be exploring the draft situation of the Chicago Bulls. Check out the bottom of this piece for the draft order accompanied by the corresponding articles that have been published so far.

Team: Chicago Bulls

Draft Picks: #14

Team Needs: Power forward, center, point guard, wing depth

Key Players: Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson

Look up at the featured photo of Jimmy Butler one more time. Sure he looks spiffy, but it wasn’t supposed to be like this for the Chi’s All-Star. Once Derrick Rose’s knees allowed Butler to make the Bulls his team, he pushed LeBron to six games in the 2015 playoffs. That’s further than most have in the Eastern Conference. Yet, one year later there he was waiting for the near-inevitability of the 14th pick, with no playoff basketball, and circulating rumors that he did not get on with Rose, Fred Hoiberg, and others.

But Butler in that photo is a powerful assertion of commitment by Chicago. And they’re right to offer that, given he’s the only star they have left. Butler is the only crop they have to build around. Joakim Noah is going to be a free agent, and Pau Gasol is likely to opt out of his player option. Rose is under contract for one more year, but he’ll be gone next summer and could even be shipped out before then.

That leaves Butler, Taj Gibson (30 and a free agent in 2017), 34-year-old Mike Dunleavy Jr., and two promising young guys in Bobby Portis and Doug McDermott. Go ahead and explain how that Chicago, plus Rose, makes any noise next season. This is the new reality for the Bulls. They are a work in progress. While Butler will be 27 when the season starts, his prime does not have to be lost and wasted.

However, it is going to take some smart drafting, wheeling, and dealing to build a young supporting cast around him over the next two to three seasons. They have McDermott and Christian Felicio, who are just 24, and Portis, who is 21. They’ll need way more, and the process to add more pieces starts on June 23 with the 14th pick. 

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Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

14th Pick in the NBA Draft:

Chicago really needs to nail this pick. As described above, they do not have a great young core to help Butler, and 2016 features a pretty weak free agent class. This upcoming season needs to be one focused on identity and development. When you look at areas that Chicago could improve upon, it’s almost every position aside from where Butler plays. That means Chicago is going to be looking at more players than almost any team for one specific pick. Draft risers and sliders will have a big impact on who the Bulls select on draft night.

In this draft range, you can get just about anything. Want physical, sharp-shooting point guards to take over from Rose? Well no worries—we’ve got Demetrius Jackson, Wade Baldwin, and even Tyler Ulis. On the hunt for a two-way big who protects the rim? Look no further than Skal Labissiere and Deyonta Davis. Oh, it’s a two-way wing you’re after to pair with Butler? Take a fly on the international duo of either Furkan Korkmaz or Timothe Luwawu. If you want less of a risk, then reach for Baylor’s Taurean Prince to fill your wing desires.

The Bulls need for almost any position is a blessing and a curse. It’s a difficult task because they are in the range that many draft experts say is extremely deep with no consensus. They also do not know what players are going to fall and if that should be reason enough to pass on such a player.

But the blessing is that they can rest easy that they will find a player in that range whom they love since they need help at almost every position. They can afford to draft a player who is not going to be ready immediately. Now, with McDermott, Dunleavy Jr., and Butler, adding a wing should be reserved for the “I’m in love with this guy” player. If Chicago believes that Luwawu is the perfect sidekick for Butler and a French reincarnation of Scottie Pippen, then they should pull the trigger.

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You may want to draft Luwawu on his last name and hops alone. Luwawu is the kind of prospect who divides scouts and front offices. But if Chicago believes his defensive tools are for real, as well as his jump shot, then he’s the perfect swing for the fences. He did in fact shoot 37 this year from deep.Image title

However, the pressing holes in the front court about to be left by Gasol, and potentially Noah, are going to be gaping. They will also leave valuable and available minutes. Some very good candidates to play in the front court next season for the Bulls are Utah’s Jakob Poeltl and Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis. Check out their games as described in our Raptors preview. However, if Chicago has the chance to select a big, they ought to look long and hard at Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis.

Taj Gibson will be the only real option at center, and he could be gone in a year. Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic seem poised to get minutes at power forward. That means there is a glaring hole at center, and Davis’ rim protection is a unique skill to build around. It may take the big man from Michigan State some time to adjust to the NBA, but he really could have a big rookie impact similar to Nerlens Noel.

Davis, just like Noel, had a block percentage over 10%, and he played over 13 less minutes per game than Noel. At Kentucky, Noel averaged 11.9 rebounds per 40 minutes. Davis averaged 11.8 rebounds per 40 at Michigan State. You have to keep in mind the monster year Noel was having before his ACL injury when putting Davis’ impressive metrics into context.

This is a guy who played meaningful minutes at Michigan State as a freshman, which cannot be overstated when you play for Tom Izzo. Davis has a lot more skill than Noel had at Kentucky, or even has now, but he could have an immediate impact just as a rim protector and pick and roll man. Davis will likely find much more space at the next level. So, if Chicago plays four out with Portis or Mirotic at power forward, Davis will be a real threat as a rim-runner.

And then there’s this from Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony

Davis’ touch, and solid shooting mechanics, lead you to believe that he may be able to develop the range on his jumper as his career progresses as well.

He’s foul prone and he’s young, but Davis is the kind of big man who could hold down the fort and protect the rim for years to come. Davis will be 19 when the season starts, and his mobility could turn him into a great modern NBA center or an even deadlier power forward. Think Tristan Thompson as a better shot blocker with potential to develop post moves and a jumper.

Adding a big man like Davis would certainly help address a big hole in the front court. Another hole that seems inevitable is at point guard now that Rose is in decline and will be too expensive to retain next summer. While Kris Dunn will be off the board by 14, Chicago should have a chance to choose between at least two of Baldwin, Jackson, and Ulis. 

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Baldwin is the ideal candidate for the Bulls, though he could be gone by 14. If he’s available, he’ll bring a high defensive ceiling, thanks to a a wingspan that reaches past 6-foot-11. He’s a 40% shooter from deep and has been improving as a passer. Baldwin can’t run your offense by himself right away, but that could compliment Butler’s skills as an initial creator.

If Baldwin is off the board, Jackson is their best bet. Ulis is going to be a scrappy, wonderful pro, but 14 is too high for a player poised to be a low-end starter or great backup. Jackson just so happens to be Draft Express’ current pick for Chicago, as they see Baldwin not being on the board then.

Jackson may be just 6-foot-2, but he was a proven defender and leader for Notre Dame. He was so good last year that Jerian Grant had to be moved off the ball. Jackson is a career 38% three-point shooter, which would be a tremendous upgrade over Rose. He also fits the modern NBA extremely well as a two-way point guard who can also score and facilitate. Jackson has some really nifty moves around the rim to make up for his slight lack of height. Some moves are so good, he fakes out his own man.

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His 43-inch max vertical can also help with that. Jackson is a bouncy castle brought to life with the chiseled chest of an MMA fighter. RIP to future rims all across the NBA.

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That jumping ability really exemplifies the kind of athlete Jackson is and how that can translate on both sides of the court. NBA teams are at their best when they can get out and run. Without a defense set, it creates a great opportunity to score and get players going with easier shots. And you better be careful if Jackson picks up the ball in transition, as many college teams have learned the hard way. Just look at the combination of speed and a strong handle here.

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Daaaaaaaaaaang, Demetrius. All things considered, Jackson could end up being the perfect fit for Chicago whether Baldwin is there or not. Not many people in this draft are as well rounded as Mr. Jackson.

Whether it’s Jackson, Davis, or someone else, the Bulls should look to add a player to their front court or invest in a point guard of the future. Butler is going to be aiming for a 2017 postseason return, so we’ll have to see how that and fit plays into Chicago’s selection at number 14.


The Draft Order and Team Needs

1. Philadelphia 76ers
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Boston Celtics (From Brooklyn)
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
6. New Orleans Pelicans
7. Denver Nuggets (From New York)
8. Sacramento Kings
9. Toronto Raptors (From Denver)
10. Milwaukee Bucks
11. Orlando Magic
12. Atlanta Hawks (From Utah)
13. Phoenix Suns (From Washington) - Second 1st Round Pick
14. Chicago Bulls
15. Denver Nuggets (From Houston) - Second 1st Round Pick
16. Boston Celtics (From Dallas) - Second 1st Round Pick
17. Memphis Grizzlies
18. Detroit Pistons
19. Denver Nuggets (From Portland) - Third 1st Round Pick
20. Indiana Pacers
21. Atlanta Hawks - Second First Round Pick
22. Charlotte Hornets
23. Boston Celtics - Third First Round Pick
24. Philadelphia 76ers (From Miami) - Second First Round Pick
25. Los Angeles Clippers
26. Philadelphia 76ers (From Oklahoma City) - Third First Round Pick
27. Toronto Raptors - Second First Round Pick
28. Phoenix Suns (From Cleveland) - Third First Round Pick
29. San Antonio Spurs
30. Golden State Warriors

37. Houston Rockets (From New York)
42. Utah Jazz
46. Dallas Mavericks
55. Brooklyn Nets (From Los Angeles)

No Picks: Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Wizards

Edited by Jazmyn Brown, Curtis Fraser.

Whom did the Bulls select in the first round of last year's NBA Draft?
Created 6/9/16
  1. Myles Turner
  2. Doug McDermott
  3. Bobby Portis
  4. Tyus Jones

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