Chicago Bulls: NBA Draft
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- With Derrick Rose on the shelf again, the Chicago Bulls were the worst shooting, worst scoring team in the league last season.
General manager Gar Forman shot 100 percent, 1-for-1, on draft night.
“Forman for a 3-point shooter! It’s good!”
Every year, plenty of NBA general managers lie and say they got the guy they wanted in the draft. This time, Forman was telling the truth.
But in a bit of target practice, Forman and the Bulls got their top college quarry Thursday night, trading their two first-round picks for sharp-shooting forward Doug McDermott, who was taken 11th by the Denver Nuggets.
After talking to his agent, the Chicago-based Mark Bartelstein, McDermott said he knew the deal was coming when he put on his Nuggets hat and walked across the stage. He certainly knew the Bulls were interested.
As for the Bulls, Forman’s cries of joy echoed from Deerfield to Ames, Iowa. Sources say Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau even smiled after the trade was completed.
While Thibodeau is known for preaching defense with a religious fervor, he’s well aware the Bulls need scoring help, even if they land Anthony.
The Bulls love McDermott’s all-around game, particularly his ability to create his own shot from various zones.
Forman called him “crafty” with an ability to create shots “off the bounce” or slip inside to the post. While Thibodeau doesn't promise minutes to anyone, the Bulls seem to think McDermott can play his way into the rotation.
“If you’re just viewing him strictly as a shooter, you’re not casting him in the proper light,” Thibodeau said. “Because he’s a lot more than that. We think he’s a complete player. We think he’s capable of playing very good defense.”
McDermott’s defense has been a question mark, but Thibodeau is adept at teaching players how to play his kind of “five-man defense.” McDermott already has consulted with his mentor, fellow Creighton legend and former Bull Kyle Korver, about Thibodeau’s high expectations.
“Kyle said he learned more defensively in two years in Chicago than he had in his whole career,” McDermott said. “He told me to go in there with an open mind, listen to Coach Thibodeau and you’ll be just fine.”
Since John Paxson took over the basketball operations department from Jerry Krause in 2003, the Bulls have had their best success drafting veteran college players from good teams or very mature freshmen, such as Luol Deng and Rose.
A four-year player for his father, McDermott was the best scorer in college the past two years. He flirted with making himself available for the draft last year, and he didn’t have a letdown in his return. He was the consensus college player of the year during his senior season, averaging 26.7 points, shooting 52.6 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3-point range.
McDermott is the fifth-highest scorer in Division I history with 3,150 points and has a career .458 3-point shooter.
“He handled his college career great,” Thibodeau said. “There was a lot of pressure on him and he met all those expectations. I had an opportunity to be around him with USA Basketball last summer, and he more than held his own in that setting.”
There is a natural synergy to this pick. Forman is a former Iowa State assistant coach, and McDermott hails from Ames.
"I'm pretty familiar with their front office,” McDermott said at the draft combine in Chicago. “They're a bunch of guys from Iowa; they all went to Iowa State it seems like. I got a chance to talk to them, and I really like them."
From practices to games, home and away, to USA Basketball camp, the Bulls' brain trust spent so much time stalking McDermott, if they didn’t draft him, he might have had to get a restraining order.
“I’ll tell you a funny story,” Forman said. “John Paxson went to see him, I think it was this year, may have been a year ago, and there was a huge snowstorm. I think he spent a week there. He got to see him play twice, practice four times and he got to know Omaha real well. Our entire staff has seen him in a lot of settings.”
While the Bulls desperately wanted McDermott, they also were looking for a trade partner for the 16th and 19th picks to shave money off next season’s salary cap as the team chases high-priced talent this summer.
But with that in mind, it was curious that well-traveled forward Anthony Randolph was included in the deal. He’s owed $1.825 million next season. Forman said that was the price for trading up. The Bulls will likely look to use his salary in a trade, though they can’t package him in a deal for 60 days, according to league rules. They can trade him straight-up immediately.
Of course, they could always trade McDermott, too, if they had to clear salary space. As you might have heard, the Bulls are going “all in” to land Anthony or Kevin Love.
But while the Bulls pursue Anthony, among others, getting McDermott -- listed at 6-foot-7¾ with shoes and 218 pounds at the NBA draft combine -- addresses the Bulls’ biggest weaknesses. In theory, anyway.
As a team, the Bulls shot 42 percent from the field and 33.3 percent on 3-pointers last season. They were the lowest-scoring team in the NBA, averaging 93.7 points per game without Rose for all but 10 games.
The Bulls’ season shot chart shows they were above league average from only one “hot spot zone” on the court, the left corner 3. They were below average in two zones from the right side and just around league average everywhere else.
"I think I can provide some outside shooting right from the get-go, be able to come off screens and play off their superstars,” McDermott said.
Mike Dunleavy and Kirk Hinrich were the only reliable long-range shooters on the roster. Hinrich is a free agent, and Dunleavy could be prime bait in a sign-and-trade deal.
The Bulls also drafted 6-foot-9 Australian power forward Cameron Bairstow out of New Mexico with the 49th pick in the second round. He averaged 20.4 points and 7.4 rebounds in a breakout senior season.
Former Illinois guard Brandon Paul has been invited to a second workout with the Chicago Bulls on Monday prior to the NBA draft, according to Paul’s mother.
Paul, a 6-foot-4, 201-pound shooting guard, has previously worked out for the Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets and New York Knicks leading up to the draft on Thursday. He most recently worked out with the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
ESPN NBA draft analyst Chad Ford has Paul ranked No. 70 on his top-100 draft list and expects Paul to either be drafted in the second round or go undrafted.
The Bulls select in the first round at No. 20 overall and in the second round at No. 49 overall.
According to a league source, Paul has the potential to be drafted in the second round because of his shooting ability.
“The draft is right around the NBA Finals, and if you’re a wing player and not a shooter in the last couple of years, it’s been hard to get on the floor in the NBA Finals unless you’re someone like Tony Allen or a defensive freak,” the source said.
“Listen, everyone missed on [San Antonio Spurs guard] Gary Neal. When [general managers] miss on guys in the NBA, they’re oversensitive when another player like that comes around. They don’t want to miss a second time. [Paul] was a top-five, top-seven [player] in the Big Ten and can shoot it. They want to make sure he’s not overlooked.”
Paul averaged 16.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals and shot 40.1 percent from the field and 32.5 percent from 3-point range during his senior season at Illinois last year. He scored 35 points on 10-of-16 shooting in a win over Gonzaga as a senior and had 43 points on 11-of-15 shooting against Ohio State as a junior.
Paul grew up in the Chicago suburb of Gurnee, Ill., and was selected as Illinois’ Mr. Basketball out of Warren High School in 2009.
The Bulls have developed that consistency in large part due to the types of players Gar Forman and John Paxson have selected and signed over the past few years. Forman has said over the years that Bulls aren't just looking for solid players, they're looking for solid character guys who will fit into the fabric of their locker room.
Chicago has the 28th and 30th pick while Miami has No. 31. The Heat have made a promise, according to multiple sources, that they would take Jackson at No. 31. But Chicago is trying to get him before hand to ensure that he isn't grabbed by another team like Dallas at No. 26 or New Jersey at No. 27. The Bulls, according to a source, are trying to move No. 30. Boston is not opposed to moving back to No. 30 or No. 31.
Read the entire column.
Though they have been few and far between, there have been some standout players selected in those slots in recent drafts. In 2003, Brazilian scorer Leandro Barbosa was selected by the Spurs with the 28th pick and then traded to the Suns. Barbosa was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year for the 2006-07 season, and he has shot almost 40 percent on three-point attempts during his career.
In 2005, University of Florida power forward David Lee went to the Knicks with the 30th pick. In 2010, Lee became the first Knick to make an All-Star team in almost a decade. He parlayed that performance into an $80 million contract with the Golden State Warriors. Since becoming a starter in 2008, Lee has averaged over 17 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Bulls starting 2-guard Keith Bogans was selected with the 43rd pick in 2003. Sharpshooter Michael Redd was selected at that spot in 2000, and defensive stopper Trevor Ariza was drafted 43rd in 2004.
The Bulls do have a history of picking players from these slots, and they haven't fared too well from any of the three. They have missed badly on all three of their most recent selections from those slots. Their last pick at 28 was in 1998 when they drafted high-flying McDonald's All-American Corey Benjamin from Oregon State. Benjamin lasted just three seasons with the Bulls, starting only 16 games.
In 2002, the Bulls had the 30th overall pick, which at the time was a second round pick. They drafted Roger Mason Jr. from Virginia, a solid if unspectacular player in the ACC. Mason Jr. found success later on in his career with the Spurs, but he played in just 20 games for the Bulls before being dealt to Toronto for Rick Brunson.
The Bulls also had the 43rd pick in that draft and used it to select Maryland power forward Lonny Baxter. Baxter won an NCAA championship with the Terps, but he struggled to keep pace in the NBA. He played in just 69 games for the Bulls over parts of two seasons. Baxter left the NBA in 2006 and has played in Europe since then, most recently in Russia.
Fortunately for the Bulls, there should be a few different shooting guards available at both 28 and 30 on Thursday night. Kansas' Josh Selby, Butler's Shelvin Mack and possibly Providence's Marshon Brooks could all still be on the board when it's time for the Bulls to pick.
Read the entire story.
We interrupt the LeBron Watch to remind you that the NBA draft is just two days away, and as of this moment, the Bulls still hold the 17th pick.
So, what are they going to do with that pick?
If they keep it, I'd expect them to use the proverbial "best player available" philosophy. By almost all accounts, this is a weak draft once you get outside of the top four or five picks. It shouldn't surprise anyone that there's been talk over the past few days that the Bulls are receptive to trading the pick. If they can clear out more cap space and use the pick as a bargaining chip, they'd be happy to unload it. Having said that, the team is going to be hard pressed to get rid of their bigger deals -- we're looking at you, Luol Deng's contract. The guess here is that if the Bulls can get something in future value for Kirk Hinrich and this year's pick they'll pull the trigger on a deal to clear up even more cap space for this year's free agent crop.
If they decide to keep the pick, here are a few of the players they might take with the 17th pick on Thursday night …
Sanders would be used as a backup for Joakim Noah down low and would become an insurance policy if the Bulls don't re-sign Brad Miller and/or Omer Asik, the team's 2008 draft pick who is expected to be in training camp, isn't the player the organization thinks he may become. Sanders has a 91-inch wingspan and would surely be an upgrade over Jerome James, in the sense that he may be the backup forward/center who could play meaningful minutes in an actual game.
James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State
Anderson sounds like the type of player you hear about coming into every draft. "The athletic two guard who can score …" The Bulls could certainly use another athletic guard, but there's no telling if Anderson will be around for the team to select him. As my collegeague Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston points out in his profile of Anderson, there is a lot of speculation that teams will trade up to take the wingman. The good news for Bulls fans is that ESPN's player evaluation of Anderson says that he has NBA range right now from beyond the arc. If the Bulls can find somebody is this draft who can consistently make 3-pointers, they'll be happy.
Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall
Whiteside is another big body who would be able to provide depth down low. His father, Hassan Arbubakrr, played in the NFL so he and Noah would have something in common as far as having fathers who played professionally in different sports. He is 21 years old and declared after his freshman season, so there is little doubt the Bulls would have to get him onto a weight program and help him add even more muscle.
Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky
A former All-SEC selection, Patterson may be one of the only good things to come out of the Billy Gillispie era -- though he played for John Calipari last season. The Bulls certainly could be intrigued by the fact that he stayed in school for three years. Taj Gibson was a little older than most picks when the Bulls selected him last season, but that worked out just fine for the team in the end. Patterson is another big body who would be expected to hit the glass down low.
Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler
I've gotten more e-mails from Bulls fans about Hayward than probably any other player. He helped lead Butler to the Final Four and clearly became a favorite in the midwest for his game. He can score and if he adds some muscle I think he can become a solid NBA player in the future. Still, with last year's first round pick James Johnson in the fold at the 3-position, I don't see the Bulls taking the Bulldog. It's also worth pointing out that most projections have him being selected before the Bulls pick at No. 17.
As we've learned with this team over the last year though … anything is possible. And that's always true throughout the league on draft night.
And vice versa.
The pair has a lot of similarities. Most notably, they are both dynamic point guards and they both played for John Calipari in college. Rose at Memphis and Wall at Kentucky. Throughout the past season, Rose was asked about Wall and how his game compared to that of the Bulls' All Star. Rose was always very complimentary and it seemed like he was looking forward to facing off against Wall at some point in the NBA.
That time is coming very soon.
Wall, who is expected to be drafted by the Wizards with the No. 1 pick later next month, was in town on Thursday for the draft combine and spoke highly of Rose and his game.
"He's a great player and a great person," Wall said of Rose. "I talked to him, asked him for advice this year because I know he's been through the same things that I've been through. Some stuff you can ask him about and some stuff you can't, but we've got a good relationship."
The Wall-Rose rivalry is one that a lot of basketball fans have been looking forward to for a while now. Both players are so explosive and can make so many things happen off the dribble that you get the sense that they may be squaring off in All Star Games for a long time.
Wall realizes that Rose's work ethic is the thing that is helping him create a name for himself in the league right now.
"He's getting better," Wall said. "He made the All Star team this year. They're saying he's putting in the work in the gym to get better year by year."
As for the speculation surrounding any kind of Wall-LeBron James package deal, Wall had this to say:
"That would be pretty big, [playing with] one of the top players in the NBA," he said. "If it happens, it happens. If not, I've got to prepare myself to face against him next year. He's a monster on the court. If you get a guy like that on your team he can help you out with so much."
No matter where James lands this summer, Wall's biggest help may be the advice he gets from Rose. The Bulls' point guard has already accomplished all the things that Wall would like to do, and he's blazed a trail for young point guards that Wall would be happy, and wise, to follow.
"I honestly don't know," Turner said, when asked where he thought James would land during free agency. "I don't know how lucky Chicago is to get two of the greatest players to play there within 15-20 years of each other, but if he does I think he'll like it here. Chicago is the greatest city in the world and it will be fun."
The Ohio State star admits that it will be tough to still cheer for the Bulls once his own pro career starts.
"I'll always be a fan of the Chicago sports," he said. "But whatever team I go to, I'm focused on them right now. I won't be rooting for [the Bulls] when we play them."
Plenty of other people will be though, especially if James lands in the Windy City. A lot of rookies think that when all is said and done Chicago will be James' final destination.
"Chicago," Syracuse standout Wes Johnson said when I asked the LeBron question. "I don't know, I'm just thinking Chicago. They keep saying New York and Chicago, I'm saying Chicago."
Xavier guard Jordan Crawford wasn't as strong in that belief, but he was a Chicago proponent as well.
"I don't know where he'll end up," Crawford said. "But you talk about what would be nice -- if he went to Chicago with Derrick Rose. That would be nice."
The rookies scoffed at the notion that James and Derrick Rose wouldn't be able to play together in the same backcourt.
"I think he'll be able to play with D. Rose just fine," Johnson said. "The way he can [dish] the basketball, man, yeah he'll be able to play with D. Rose. You see LeBron average almost a triple double he can find a way to play with D. Rose.
"They both share the ball and they both love making assists so they'll complement each other great," he said.
Johnson has gotten a first-hand scouting report on James from his college buddy, Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jonny Flyyn.
"He said it's not real," Flynn said of facing James. "Just seeing him on the court and seeing him in person, how big he is and how fast he runs. It's like a machine basically. It's like a robot out there."
Crawford and James go way back: Crawford became a national celebrity last summer when he dunked on James at the MVP's summer camp. It's a memory that he is reminded of almost every day. If he had a dollar for every time somebody asked him about the dunk he would be a wealthy, wealthy man.
"I'd be rich," he said.
How much exactly?
"I don't know," he said. "It would be up there, though. I wouldn't have to worry about ... I could spend a little bit of cash, if I had a dollar for every time [people asked]."
Line of the day: Fresno State swingman Paul George recently worked out for the Bulls and had this to say when asked about the possibility coming to Chicago team which featured James: "He'll probably take all my minutes, but we'll be winning."
Among the potential draftees scheduled to participate are: James Anderson (Oklahoma State), Paul George (Fresno State), Xavier Henry (Kansas), Dominique Jones (South Florida), Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech), Samardo Samuels (Louisville).
Click here to read the full story.