Michigan star fits a Bulls' need
The Chicago Bulls have succeeded in the draft in recent years with tough players who have performed at the highest level, many of whom coming from top programs like Duke, Marquette, Florida, Kansas and UConn. Taj Gibson was a steal out of University of Southern California.
Despite a need for a young backup center, the Bulls need to focus on wing scoring, particularly long-range shooting. With Luol Deng's contract expiring after this season, the Bulls need inexpensive depth at that position going into 2014.
This past season, the loss of Kyle Korver hurt, and obviously so did the absence of Derrick Rose, who drew in defenders and left the corners open for shooters. Without Nate Robinson to pull up on a dime, the Bulls will still need to address this problem when Rose returns. They can't afford a big upgrade on the free agent market.
That's why my pick at No. 20 is Michigan swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. That's a few picks higher than some mock drafts have him slotted, but he fits everything the Bulls want in a pick.
He's 6-foot-6, he can shoot the 3 and can finish in transition around the basket. He played for a marquee program at a very high level. It doesn't hurt that his dad is a Chicago high school legend and a former NBA All-Star.
He wasn't the most efficient scorer on the national title runner-up Wolverines, which explains why he was slotted as a second-round pick two months ago, but when I skimmed through Hardaway's Synergy stats, I liked what I saw.
Offensively, he's ranked "very good" in catch and shoot and 3-point situations (he shot a decent 37.4 percent), and "excellent" in transition. The latter category separates him, from say, California's Allen Crabbe, a slightly smaller alternative at the two guard.
As a rookie, Hardaway will have a major adjustment and it's likely he'll play in spot situations. So it's important he can spread the floor and is ready to shoot when he gets the ball from Rose. After playing with an elite point guard in Trey Burke, he should be somewhat prepared.
With his size, Hardaway should be able to defend at the two, and that's the key. Because to play for Tom Thibodeau as a rookie, Hardaway will have to prove he can defend like an NBA player. If the Bulls think that's possible, he's a solid pick.
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.
Swingman checks all Bulls' boxes
Trying to project who the Chicago Bulls will take in the NBA draft is always an interesting experience because the people who have the information within the organization don't want to shed much light on their thinking. The more secretive the better.
So reading the context clues is an important step in the process. A quick look at the Bulls roster, and the free agents they're probably going to lose because of cap concerns (notably Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli), would lead one to believe that the Bulls are going to look for a backup wing player, someone who can spot Jimmy Butler and/or Luol Deng or another big man to play behind Joakim Noah.
Regardless of whether the Bulls re-sign Nazr Mohammed this summer, they would like to get another big man to mold for the future, especially given Noah's injury concerns.
Still, the lack of long-range shooting on the roster is one of the Bulls' biggest needs and one they would be able to fill with the selection of North Carolina's Reggie Bullock.
The 22-year-old swingman was in Roy Williams' system for three years -- experience Bulls management will love -- and at 6-foot-7 he would give coach Tom Thibodeau another lengthy option off the bench. Most importantly, he can shoot from deep and would space out the floor for Derrick Rose.
"Bullock shot 44 percent from 3-point range this season and has the size to play both wing positions," wrote ESPN.com's Chad Ford in his latest mock draft, where he pegged Bullock to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 19th pick.
If he gets to 20, the Bulls may very likely swoop him up because he fits the criteria they always look for, and he would fill a glaring need in the process.
Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com.