2013 NBA Draft Targets That Make Perfect Sense for Chicago Bulls
Their most glaring needs are at shooting guard and backup center. This year's draft has numerous players who could fill such a void nicely.
If they go the 2-guard route, they'll almost surely look for a wing who has some range on his jump shot. The Bulls ranked second to last in the league during 2012-13 in three-point field goals made per game (5.4). They could clearly use some help in this arena.
A backup center is another valid option to pursue. Since the departure of Omer Asik last summer, the Bulls have been limited in their frontcourt depth. Veteran Nazr Mohammed was barely serviceable, and it's evident that an upgrade is necessary.
So, which route will the Bulls go with the 20th pick in Thursday's draft? Assuming they don't make a blockbuster trade (interestingly, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, there are rumors about the Bulls trading Luol Deng for a high selection), these draft targets make perfect sense for the Bulls going forward.
These individuals should at least garner Chicago's attention, but they're likely not the best potential options.
Tony Snell, New Mexico: Snell possesses good size (6'7'') and is a decent shooter (39.0 percent from the three-point line last season), but he lacks adequate ball-handling skills and strength. He is more of a project pick, and the Bulls can do better than that.
Ricardo Ledo, Providence: Ledo displays all of the elements the Bulls yearn for in a guard. The problem? He has off-the-court issues, evidenced by the fact that he was ruled academically ineligible for his freshman season. It's doubtful that the Bulls, on the verge of championship contention, would tinker with a troublesome player who could inhibit team chemistry. Still, he could be an addition with unquestionable promise.
Gorgui Dieng, Louisville: Dieng would be an understandable selection due to his rebounding and shot-blocking skills. He could instantly become Joakim Noah's backup in the second unit. However, his injury concerns are valid, and his offensive game is very unpolished.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
Tim Hardaway Jr. doesn't have the killer crossover of his father. In fact, he is a completely different type of player in general.
While he lacks his dad's explosiveness off the dribble, he does possess shooting touch, athleticism and decent size for a 2-guard (6'6'', 205 pounds). These assets are exactly what the Bulls desire in a wing addition.
The positives in nabbing Hardaway Jr. center upon his ability to stretch the floor for Derrick Rose. He has a pure stroke from distance and is also adept at taking a dribble or two and cashing a pull-up jumper. He is by no means just a spot-up shooter.
What's more, Hardaway Jr. also has the length and athleticism to adequately defend in coach Tom Thibodeau's rigorous defensive system. Therefore, Hardaway Jr. would be an ideal fit in more ways than one.
A potential concern is how consistent of a shooter he'll be in the NBA. In his college days, he was rather streaky, and he never accumulated a three-point percentage higher than 37 percent.
Therefore, will his long-range accuracy reach new heights during his NBA career, or will inconsistency derail his potential? This question holds significant weight in regards to his pro outlook.
At any rate, selecting Hardaway Jr. features logic, but there are certainly other figures worth considering.
Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
Reggie Bullock is another 2-guard for Chicago to probe. Similar to Hardaway Jr., he has the shooting touch and overall offensive repertoire the Bulls crave.
In fact, during the 2012-13 collegiate season, Bullock shot the three ball at a much higher clip than Hardaway (43.6 percent, compared to Hardway's 37.4). Bullock also rebounds particularly well for a wing, hauling in 6.5 boards a game last campaign.
His size (6'7'', 200 pounds) and offensive versatility make him an intriguing prospect, and there's a good chance he'll be off the board by the 20th pick. However, if his name is still there, the Bulls will surely take a look. He has what they're looking for in a prospective wing, and he comes with a great deal of upside.
The looming concern with Bullock is his focus. He can at times disappear or struggle against elite competition, such as when he shot 1-of-7 against the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA tournament. He must squelch such worries as he gears up for the NBA.
If he's available, the Bulls should analyze his ceiling and if he fits their long-term outlook. On the surface, it certainly appears that Bullock's game meshes well.
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
Jamaal Franklin is a different mold than the first two mentioned shooting guards. Franklin isn't as lethal from deep, but he is remarkably athletic and a force on both ends of the floor.
Specifically, Franklin can get to the rim off of dribble penetration. He also has long arms that help him play bigger than his 6'5'' frame.
Why he's a legitimate target for the Bulls, despite his suspect three-point shooting abilities (28 percent in 2012-13), is his defensive motor and his tenacity. These two assets are surely entertaining the thoughts of Tom Thibodeau. There's something to be said for grit and mental toughness, and Franklin has it.
The downside here could be if Franklin really is the right fit. Chicago's primary need is shooting, and Franklin is unproven in this area.
However, perhaps the Bulls draft who they feel is the best overall guard available, which would likely be Franklin. They could then seek to address their shooting woes via trade or free agency.
Mason Plumlee, Duke
Mason Plumlee would not be a flashy pick, but it's a move that makes sense. The Bulls need young legs behind Noah, and Plumlee knows how to run the floor and plays with sufficient energy.
He is also a stellar rebounder and shot-blocker (10.0 rebounds per game and 1.4 blocks per game during 2012-13) and has the offensive tools to be serviceable in the league (averaged 17.1 points per game). He could likely contribute effectively right away.
Furthermore, it's not like they'll need significant contributions from him. If he can provide 10-15 minutes per game of steady activity on the defensive end and on the glass, then he's doing his job. Perhaps he'll even reveal layers to his game that beckon more minutes as a rookie.
His concerns center upon his raw post game and his lack of strength. While he rebounded well in college, he could get pushed around in the paint in the NBA.
Still, he would be an ideal selection for a Bulls team searching for frontcourt depth.
Rudy Gobert, France
While Plumlee is the safe pick, Gobert is snazzy and could be a gem at the 20th pick.
Gobert is compelling because of his size (7'2'') and wingspan (7'9''). He even runs the floor in quality fashion and is a superb rebounder.
The Bulls could utilize him in their "Bench Mob" and slowly develop him into a consistent weapon off the bench. Thibodeau would surely love to have such size situated behind Noah.
The primary concern here is if he's ready for the NBA. He is just 20 years old and lacks strength as well as post skills. If the Bulls choose to rely on his exploits come next season, they could be in for a rude awakening. He could be two or three years away from being NBA-ready, and this could definitely pose problems.
With that said, his ceiling is high, and he is loaded with intrigue. Perhaps the Bulls roll the dice and take a chance that Gobert is the 2013 NBA draft steal.