BULLS DRAFT REPORT
|The Bulls story is well known. Six championships in eight years led by the all-time
greatest Michael Jordan with top
50 sidekick Scottie Pippen. A
cast of role players including Dennis Rodman (quite a conspicuous role player), Steve
Kerr, Luc Longley, Jud Buechler
etc. All gone along with Coach Phil Jackson. Resulting in the third worst record in the league and a miserable team.
All of this was orchestrated and precipatated by General Manager Jerry Krause, one of the most unpopular men
in Chicago. It's true that the Bulls dynasty could not have gone on forever, but it
certainly could have continued for another year or two if Krause hadn't desired the
premature breakup of the team. Well he got his wish and the crowds (on momentum from the
championships if nothing else) continued to fill the United Center in Chicago. That is
unlikely to continue for long, as any pre -Jordan Bulls fans like myself can attest. So
now the question is how can the Bulls most quickly establish a decent team and eventually
a playoff caliber squad.
It seems that Krause's grand scheme was to clear the
maximum amount of salary cap room so he could go after premier free agents. The flaws in
this strategy proved to be several. First the new collective bargaining agreement means
that the free agent player can be signed for significantly more by his current team. Thus
potential free agents like Ray Allen, Stephon Marbury,
and Abdur-Rahim have all signed
long-term deals and are not available. The free agents likely available are not a terrific
group with players like Joe Smith,
Mitch Richmond, and Terrell Brandon at the top of the class,
although Penny Hardaway recently declared his intention to become a free agent. The other
flaw was thinking that premier free agents would see the post Jordan Krause led Bulls as
an attractive place to play.
So far Brent Barry is the only one to bite and he had quite an underwhelming season.
At this point if I had control of the team, I would fire
Jerry Krause and offer Michael Jordan 50% ownership with the basketball control that
George Shinn in Charlotte would not grant Jordan. From there you could start to rebuild
the team by making wise draft choices, good trades for veterans, and picking off free
agents who would want to play for a Jordan managed organization.
Failing such a radical move, the progress is likely to be
slow. This year's draft presents no Tim Duncan type player and the free agent crop is
unlikely to hold much promise. So the best strategy is to trade the top pick for a
combination of additional picks and a veteran or two. Sign a steady free agent or two and
hope that Tim Floyd becomes a decent NBA coach who can bring a team of overachievers close
to .500 within a few years.
Bulls Recent Draft History:
|The Bulls have been picking so low in recent years that
they have gotten little out of the draft. Their last high pick was Stacy King and he never did much except a
crucial shot or two the year they beat Portland for the NBA title.
Their only significant long term contributors from the draft have been Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant (in a 1987 draft day deal with
Seattle) eons ago and Toni Kukoc
selected in the second round as a Euro wait-a-few-years player. Will Purdue has proven to
be an adequate backup center. Of course the pick of Michael Jordan at #3 was done prior to
the Jerry Krause era. B.J. Armstrong was a good player for the Bulls for a few years. But first round picks
like Jeff Sanders, Mark Randall, Corey
Blount, Dicky Simpkins, Brad Sellers, Keith Booth, Travis
Knight (rights revoked) and Corey
Benjamin have done nothing for the team.
Bulls Current Team:
|The current Bulls team has holes at every position. Thus
they need to get several good players out of the draft, either by selecting them or using
a pick or two as trade bait for veterans
|How does Bill Wennington, Andrew Lang,
and Dicky Simpkins sound?
Pathetic. Unfortunately there is no big man worthy of being selected as the #1 pick, so
look for the Bulls to either make a trade for a big man or use #16 to select the best
available big man.
|Mark Bryant and Dicky Simpkins are the power forwards and
although Bryant put up some decent numbers on a garbage team he is not starting NBA power
|Toni Kukoc and Kornel David play small forward and Kukoc is
by far the most talented Bull, but he definitely fit better with other talented players
(Jordan, Pippen) than he does as The Man. His shooting percentage was way off last year. .
Keith Booth is in the mix at
small forward/big guard but has not shown much.
|Brent Barry was signed to a
large free agent contract and had a difficult time learning the triangle offense. While
with the Clippers (which is not a very good way to measure a player's worth) he showed a
great deal of offensive potential, but has never shown much defensive potential. Randy Brown had a nice year, but is strictly
a role player. Ron Harper is
getting older and would be better off providing veteran leadership for a playoff
contender. The Bulls do not utilize a traditional point guard in their triangle offense. Corey Benjamin, last year's #1 selection, is
still quite young and showed little capability of grasping the NBA game or the triangle
offense. Cory Carr and Rusty LaRue are also on the roster, but
offered little last year.
|The Bulls are a team that is several players and several
drafts away from being a playoff team, let alone returning to their championship glory.
Their good fortune in getting the #1 pick is tempered by there
being no standout can't miss player. It is generally acknowledged that Lamar Odom from Rhode Island, Steve Francis from Maryland, and Elton Brand of Duke are the top players in this year's
draft. If the Bulls trade down (which I heartily recommend) they would be looking at Wally Szczerbiak of Miami of Ohio, or Corey Maggette of Duke (a Chicago native).
The rumors are that Toronto wants the top pick (to select
Francis) but the Bulls want Tracy McGrady in that deal along with the #5 selection. Toronto is offering Doug Christie and their pick or picks (they
also have #12). The latest rumor has Charlotte trading Anthony Mason to the Wizards for
the #7 pick and then packaging that with their #3 pick to the Bulls for #1. I would make
that deal in a minute. Then the Bulls would likely be able to get Brand at #3 and
Szczerbiak or Maggette at #7.
|The Bulls select Evan
Eschmeyer from Northwestern because he is the best big man available. He had an
excellent career in the Big Ten and was the top center last year in the conference. He has
a good variety of low post moves and is a banger. The downside is that he is not a great
athlete and does not run the floor very well. He is likely to be a serviceable player in
the NBA who will be a good backup center or starter for a weak team like the Bulls.
this pick would go against Jerry Krause's oft stated and also denied preference for not going after local players
because of the added burden and potential negative influences it can bring. Krause now says that is not true, that he has
no problem with local players. This is relevant to the decision whether to draft Maggette,
a Chicago native. In the past Krause has passed up or made no moves to sign or trade for
when available local players such as Rod Strickland, Tim Hardaway, Terry Cummings, and
Mark Aquirre. It will be interesting to see if Eschmeyer, coming from a suburban
university like Northwestern and being white, is in a different category than athletes
from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
The Bulls have an underwhelming trio of Bill Wennington, Andrew Lang,
and sometimes Dicky Simpkins at
the center position and have a glaring need for a big man. It is their bad luck to have
the number one pick in a draft with no potentially dominating big men.
|I also considered Todd MacCullogh the
center from Washington for this pick . MacCullogh had a much less consistent college
career than Eschemeyer and appears less hardnosed about basketball.