|The third and last of the Bulls first round picks is the 24th. Their third Usenet GM is Jim Higgins. With the 24th pick, the Bulls select:|
I. TEAM NEEDS/HISTORY
Somewhere around January 3rd the Bulls hit rock bottom. A loss to Portland left them at 2-26, by far the worst record in the league. For all practical purposes, the looked like the worst team in NBA history. I would say that most folks thought for sure that the Bulls were a lock to break the 76ers record for fewest wins in an 82 game season. Then something happened. Three strait wins (granted two were over the Wizards) and the Bulls actually had moments where they looked, dare I say, "respectable". Well, ok, we wont go that far. However from that point on the Bulls were 15-39. The had some nice wins over playoff teams like Miami (Twice), Detroit, Indiana and at Seattle. I won't go so far as to say that the immediate future looks bright but it does not look as dark. Players like #1 Elton Brand really started to show that he could be big time player and Ron Artest, who looked like he might be a solid player. There is still a long way to go but they are showing more then when they were 2-26.
The Bulls need plenty. Although the are set at Power Forward with Brand, every other position could use help. Center, Shooting Guard and Point Guard needs a lot of help. The Bulls are in a nice position with the two lottery picks. At 24 they will be looking to get the best player available.
II. Draft History
It could easily be said that in the last 8 drafts, the Bulls have not really brought much talent into the NBA. Brand looks like a start and Artest could be solid but the jury is still out on Benjamin and the rest are, at best, journeymen in the NBA (or out of the league). That said, this is true of most teams picking as far down as the Bulls have, for so many years.
III. Management and Coaching
The Bulls are owned by Jerry Reinsorf and run by Jerry Krause (called "the Jerrys'"). Their have been much said about them in the last few year to fill up hundreds of Mock draft reports so I won't dive to much into it here. They are strong willed individuals who have made many enemies and few friends. However, one criticisms is the Kukoc trade to the 76ers. I would have thought that getting Larry Hughes instead of the draft pick would have been the better move. I doubt that anyone at #7 would have brought anyone of that caliber. It has been said that because of their treatment of Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson, and Scottie Pippin that major Free Agents like Grant Hill, Tim Duncan and Tracey McGrady will not come and play for them. I'm not sure about this. Yes Jordan, Jackson and Pippin will not say good things about them but I'm not sure what sway that will have over people. They will want to play for the team that will give them the most money and the best chance of winning.
Tim Floyd is the current coach of the Bulls. To be honest, it is really hard to make a good call about Floyd's coaching abilities at this point. No body would have been able to get much more then 20 wins out of this team. However, from what I've seen I've not been terribly impressed. He has the solid support of The Jerrys' and does not have to worry about his job for at least two more seasons.
There is not much good to be said about the Center position for the Bulls. They sucked! Will Perdue was the highest paid player on the Bulls ($5.1 Million) and one of the worst players. Last week he was waived! That alone will help. Chris Anstey was the backup and is a Free Agent and it is not clear if he will be back. Dickey Simpkins, a natural Power Forward, also spent a good bit of time at Center. Simpkins is also a Free Agent. According to Jamie Resin, the Chicago Bulls Usenet Mock Draft GM for the 4th pick, the Bulls own the rights to Dragan Tarlac (Greece) and Roberto Dueanas (Spain). I was unable to find any additional information about them to ascertain if they could help the Bulls next year. So I'm guessing they won't :-).
Elton Brand! By the end of the year Brand was playing the Power Forward spot as well as almost anyone in the league. Well that may be a bit much, but he was certainly in a group below the Chris Webber's/Karl Malone's of the world. Brand impressed everyone with the effort that he put forth on such a bad team (averaging a 20+ pts/game and 10+ rebounds/game). Brand has a solid post up game and a decent facing the basket game. He will undoubtedly get better in all areas of the game and does need to show defensive improvement to join the upper echelon of NBA starts. Brand was backed up by Dickey Simpkins (a Free Agent) and Michael Ruffin (a second round pick out of Tulsa) who provided solid defense and rebounding for a reserve.
After the draft of Toni Kukoc the job was given to rookie Ron Artest (the 16th pick from St. John's). To say that he exceed all expectations is an understatement. Artest played solid defense and provided more offense then expected (12 points/game). He was named second team All-Rookie. Artest also played Shooting Guard and had the Bulls received Larry Hughes in the Kukoc trade as opposed to the 7th pick in the draft, Hughes/Artest would have been a potentially great SF/SG duo.
To be honest, I don't think the Bulls actually had a Shooting Guard. Oh they had players like Hersey Hawkins, Chris Carr, Corey Benjamin and Fred Hoiberg (I'm sure I'm missing another player or two) but no one really played well enough to mention. Hawkins has one more year on his contract to he has to be back. Benjamin has two. Carr and Hoiberg are Free Agents.
Much like the Shooting Guard position, no one really did much at Point. B. J. Armstrong, Randy Brown and Matt Maloney all spent some time there (Brown started 55 games) but all are Free Agents and more the likely, none will be back.
V. Team Needs and Possible Offseason Moves
The Bulls need urgent help at all positions except Power and Small Forwards (although they urgently need depth at those positions). A Center, a Shooting Guard and a Point Guard is all that's left and the Bulls need them. The Bulls have three first round picks and most folks expect them to take Chris Mihm, Joel Pryzbilla, or Darius Miles with the first pick. Jamie Resin took Miles with the 4th pick in the Usenet Draft. Miles would be a more long term project and will let Artest move back to Shooting Guard. The 4th pick has also been rumored to be packaged to Portland for Jermaine O'Neal - although this has died down since Portland no longer thinks that Mihm or Pryzbilla will be any better then O'Neal. The 7th pick should be the Center (assuming that either Mihm or Pryzbilla will still be there), if the 4th is used on Miles. If the 4th is used on a Center, then the 7th should be used on a Small Forward/Shooting Guard (like Mike Miller or DerMarr Johnson). No Point Guard is ranked high enough to justify at #7. At the 24th pick, Chicago will be looking for a Point Guard (like Jamal Crawford, Keyon Dooling, Craig Claxton, or Erick Barkley). However, they need so much help that they should be looking for the preverbal "Best player available" and not be locked into any position.
As far as Free Agents, the Bulls continue to "Aim High" for the Grant Hill/Tim Duncan/Tracy McGrady's of the world, but I expect they will be more in the Eddie Jones range. Eddie was particularly impressed by the crowds that the "way out of the playoff chase" Bulls drew as compared to the horrid crowds that came to the Charlotte Arena for the Playoff bound Hornets. There has also been talk about Ron Mercer but I would discount that. Mercer has not shown in his 3 years in the league that he is worth a Maxed out contract. I doubt Krause will give him one.
VI. My Selection
With the 24th pick in the draft, a team with as much rebuilding to do as the Bulls have must look for the best available player. Position, in this case, is a secondary concern. The bottom line is that if you have a team of good athletes who can play the game, you might not be the best, but you'll win some games. Just look at the Knicks last playoff season against the Spurs in the finals. They did not match up position to position with the Spurs, but they were all good athletes and were, therefore, competitive.
I've already been contacted by people who have ridiculed my pick as a "waste of a draft pick" among other things. Well, there isn't really any way to argue with such a statement except to encourage you to watch how Hanno Mottola unfolds as a player. Please understand that I am not trying to make any unrealistic comparisons here because this is obviously a different story, but remember a certain team that didn't draft Jordan because they didn't need a shooting guard? I believe that they went with Sam Bowie, a center, because the center position was the one they needed the most. Well I wouldn't want to make a mistake like that. Even if Mottola is never a Jordan, which he almost certainly will not be, I feel as though he will be a better NBA player than any of the centers available at the 24th pick. He has the ability to play two, maybe even three positions depending on the opponent. And on a team as hard pressed for talent as the Bulls, a guy who can play multiple positions is a godsend.
VII. Other Players Considered
Jamaal will probably be around at the 24th pick, but is he the answer to the Bulls' problems? I'm not sure. He plays tough, physical ball, but his offensive game is not quite stellar. That is not to say that he won't develop, but with a first round pick you'd like to pick up someone who will add to your offense a bit more than Magloire will. Still, if he is the best available with the 24th, it could be a lot worse. He'll be a solid pro, I just doubt he'll be a starting center at the next level.
Michael is a player that many considered a pre-season All-America candidate. But for reasons that I do not understand, he dropped off the radar during the course of the season. And that is despite averaging 17.3 points per game and grabbing 6.5 rebounds per game. His versatility is a huge plus. He also averaged a couple of assists a game on a team that had few offensive weapons other than himself and Scoonie Penn. Michael is tremendously athletic and has a great sense for the game. He is, however, likely to drop to the early second round, so the Bulls might try to pick him up later instead.
Chris was the unexpected leader of the 99-00 Blue Devils' squad that was a surprise tournament favorite after waltzing through the ACC to a 15-1 regular season conference record and an ACC tournament championship. He was second on the team in scoring at 16.9 points. He averaged 6.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. More impressive than his offensive statistics is his tremendous defense. During his career at Duke, Carrawell was asked to guard the best player on every opposing team whether it was Wake Forest center Tim Duncan or UNC point guard Ed Cota. He is extremely versatile and a team player first and foremost, something rarely seen in today's NBA game. While he is not the flashiest player, he is fundamentally sound and very confident. He shoots the three ball well and has an excellent midrange jumper. An intangible bonus to the Bulls picking Chris is the fact that he knows Brand's style of play very well. He should have no trouble stepping into the Bulls' lineup and playing effectively right off the bat.
After being one of the most highly touted high school players in the nation, and being recruited by Roy Williams of Kansas, DeShaun decided that he was ready for the pro game. Time will tell whether his decision was the right one, but for general managers in the NBA, he is an intriguing talent. There is always a good deal of concern when drafting a high school player because nobody really knows how they will fare in the NBA, playing against tougher, taller, and more talented players than they've ever played against. But there seems to be little doubt that DeShaun will be a great NBA player. Maybe not right away, but eventually. He does not presently possess the ball-handling, game sense, or general strength necessary to compete in the big time, but those will all come with time. DeShaun will be a very tough player to pass up if he is available with the 24th pick. But the Bulls need instant improvement, and he is not likely to give them a big boost coming directly out of high school.
Mateen is possibly the best ball handler in the draft. He is extremely confident with the ball and should have no trouble in the transition to the pro game. The only negative on Cleaves according to most analysts is his questionable shooting. His performance in the NCAA championship game should have at least quieted some of those doubts as he drained 3 of 4 of his three point attempts, scoring 18 points for the game. Mateen averaged 12.1 points per game during the season, while also dishing out 6.9 assists. He has a tremendously competitive personality and has a huge heart for the game. The Bulls are in dire need of a quality point guard and Mateen would be a good fit for the team. The only down side to picking him is the doubt surrounding his shooting ability. The Bulls need scoring from players other than Brand, so if Cleaves doesn't produce offensively, there is probably a better pick in the first round.
Some might question the Bulls' picking Mottola in the first round, but Bulls fans might agree with the pick. Anyone remember a certain 6'11" small forward from Croatia on the Bulls' championship teams? That's right, Toni Kukoc. Mottola is a good shooter and could very well turn into another Kukoc-type player. And the Bulls would be foolish to turn down the chance to have Kukoc back in his prime. He isn't the quickest player, but his height at his position and his sweet shot make up for this. He averaged 17.1 points per game with 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists. If there is a downside, it is that he might not be able to produce his own shots in the pros with bigger, quicker defenders. But Hanno's 6'10" frame should compensate for his lack of speed and enable him to spot up in front of the likes of Grant Hill.
VIII. Likely Selection
|Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner|
|Visit My Home Page|