The shoes of Derrick Rose have never looked so massive. Or so empty.
Most of us didn’t anticipate Derrick Rose’s season to go down like it did, with first the numerous minor injuries and then the torn ACL knocking him out of both the playoffs and most of next season.
How will the Chicago Bulls survive without their team leader? It’s only fair to assume that there will be changes to the current roster—the 2012-13 season will see different names and faces playing for the Bulls. Most importantly, we’ll see the name of a rookie.
Nobody expects that a rookie will win the championship while D. Rose recovers, but we certainly do expect whoever the Bulls select to be capable of keeping the team afloat.
Fortunately for the Bulls, the 2012 draft has a multitude of talented rookies to choose from. The circumstances of Derrick Rose’s torn ACL, while awful, couldn’t have happened before a better draft.
First off, I like Richard “Rip” Hamilton. I was excited when the Bulls brought him in as the “experienced” shooting guard before the season, and I was excited when he was finally healthy enough to be the “experienced” shooting guard before the playoffs.
That said, he really didn't contribute much when he was most needed. He played great with Derrick Rose in Game 1 against the 76ers, putting up solid numbers (19 points, four rebounds, three assists). The problem was that when the Bulls needed him to step up in the absence of D. Rose, he backed down, averaging just 11.8 points in the final five games.
Still, I doubt that the Bulls will want to get rid of him just yet. Rip Hamilton still has his uses, his greatest strength is moving without the ball. With him being forced to be the main offensive threat against the Sixers in the playoffs, he wasn't able to use his whole arsenal. The Bulls need someone who can be a more viable scoring threat to take the place of Hamilton at the starting shooting guard position.
Obviously, for offensive reasons, Ronnie Brewer isn’t the answer. Kyle Korver is limited offensively, but he still has his place as the pure shooter on the team.The Bulls will likely select someone in the draft who is capable of making plays while Rose and Deng recover from injuries.
The other position that the Bulls could address in the draft is power forward. While it’s not urgent, Carlos Boozer showed about as much motivation in the playoffs as a pumpkin would have.
With Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson both injured, Boozer should have come alive to help his team out. He didn’t however, and he looked as comfortable sitting on the bench in the fourth quarter of that final game as Brian Scalabrine did (no knock on the White Mamba, we love him for some reason).
Given that last year’s draft choice Nikola Mirotec is coming over within the next few years, and Taj Gibson showed in the playoffs that he could start—not to mention the fact that getting rid of Boozer would probably be unfruitful at this point—I doubt that the Bulls will attempt to address the power forward position in the draft.
As I said before, the draft is overflowing with talented rookies, especially at the shooting guard position. While there are many to choose from, I’m just going to pick my top three.
Keep in mind that while the Bulls currently have the 29th draft pick, they have plenty of bargaining chips to help them move up.
1. Doron Lamb
While Doron Lamb isn’t the best shooting guard in the draft, he may well be the best scorer. He’s extremely talented, and very capable of getting the ball through the hoop. Also, his athleticism and ball-handling are through the roof.
His passing game is underrated, as he actually had experience playing point guard when needed in college. He is a bit undersized at 6’4”, but he didn't let that hinder his potential at Kentucky.
I feel that Lamb could be a great pick for the Bulls, simply because of his scoring abilities. It is doubtful that the Bulls could get him with such a late pick; we would likely have to trade up to get him.
2. Austin Rivers
This guy is all potential. I hate hearing that word as much as anyone, but seriously, Austin Rivers will likely prove to be a huge asset for the team that drafts him. His best qualities include his aggressiveness in getting to the rim, and his play-making abilities.
At the moment, Rivers isn’t the best guard in the draft. While his basketball IQ is outstanding (we can thank his dad for that), his selfishness and a weak left side could prove to be a problem for him.
Overall, I like this guy for the Bulls. I think that Thibodeau could keep him in line, and his natural aggressiveness and desire to win could be a huge spark of life for Chi-Town. It would be risky to wait around for him at the 29th pick, but there’s a good chance he’d still be around.
3. John Jenkins
By popular vote, Jenkins wouldn’t be on this list. He’s a little undersized, not as athletic as some of the other rookies, and his defense has been questioned. That said though, Jenkins easily has the best shot in his entire draft class. He’s been compared to Ray Allen, and he’s a substantially better leader than most of the other shooting guards.
He’s not a selfish player, he’s a good passer, and his shooting range is endless. If the Bulls brought him in, he wouldn’t disappoint.
Jenkins will almost undoubtedly still be around by the time the Bulls pick rolls around. His personality and on-court behavior fit with the system that Thibodeau has set in place. Overall, he would look great wearing a Bulls jersey.
The Bulls are going to end up with a shooting guard. It could be Doron Lamb, Kidd-Gilchrist, or anyone else. My opinion though, is that the Bulls will select Austin Rivers to take the helm for the Chicago Bulls while D. Rose recovers.
Here’s why: drafting Austin Rivers wouldn’t require making a substantial risk or shaking up the draft in any way. The Chicago Bulls management isn’t known for doing either of those things. While Rivers may or may not be a step down from Doron Lamb, drafting him is definitely not a compromise.
Austin Rivers has all of the tools to be a great player for the Bulls organization.
He’s very athletic, and his scoring is exactly what the Bulls will need—even when Rose returns. Come the playoffs, when Rose is back in action, they'll have Austin Rivers providing a second option for scoring. With two players that are highly capable of creating plays, the pressure on the rest of the team would be alleviated, opening up more opportunities for everyone.
No, Austin Rivers isn’t the next LeBron James. Could he be a major contribution to the Bulls championship hopes, though? Absolutely.