The Top 5 Best and Worst Chicago Bulls Draft Picks Since 2000
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Who was the worst Chicago Bulls NBA draft choice since the year of 2000?
Besides Derrick Rose, who was the top pick in the 2008 draft, which draft selection has been their best?
Did the Bulls get it right in the 2013 NBA draft? If their recent history selecting players provides any sort of sign, the answer will be a resounding yes.
It usually takes years for NBA players to develop into stars and solid role players. Judging them solely on "upside" and "value" can be problematic at best—there are some sure bets in the draft, just as there are some mind-numbing choices.
The Bulls have had their fair share of both.
Players such as Rose were can’t miss stars. You have seen the results–Rookie of the Year honors, multiple playoff appearances and an MVP award. Rose is an exceptional talent, who despite being a year removed from knee surgery, will only get better.
He has become the Bulls’ best draft pick since 2000, yet he does not make the list. Rose is an obvious No. 1 selection who does not require much of a thought.
He is too easy of a choice.
With Rose’s exclusion, which players were the top-5 best Bulls’ draft picks since 2000 and who were the worst?
Honorable Mention: Luol Deng
Very few fans realize that Luol Deng was originally a Phoenix Suns’ 2004 draft choice. Although he is widely recognized as a homegrown talent, he was not selected by the Bulls.
A draft day trade sent Deng, chosen seventh in the 2004 NBA draft, to Chicago with a future first-round pick and the rights to Iowa State forward Jackson Vroman. The trade turned out to be one of the most lopsided trades in the last decade.
How bad was this deal?
Deng, regarded as one of the game's best defenders is a two-time NBA All-Star.
Vroman played in only 11 games during his Suns tenure. Phoenix wound up with the 21st pick in the 2005 NBA draft and selected Nate Robinson, before trading him to the New York Knicks.
No. 5 Best: LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge never played a game for the Bulls, but the Bulls’ former No. 2 pick is enjoying a successful career.
While the Bulls were on the winning end of one of the lopsided NBA trades in the last decade, they wound up on the losing end. This happened when they unceremoniously packaged Aldridge to the Portland Trailblazers for the rights of Tyrus Thomas. It is another chapter of choosing upside over production.
Aldridge has become a two-time NBA All-Star, while Thomas has turned into an NBA bust.
No. 5 Worst: Jay Williams
Jay Williams was expected to help the Bulls return to the playoffs and title contention. Selected No. 2 overall in 2002, Williams had the burdens of a struggling franchise heaped upon his shoulders.
Like most rookies, he had his share of struggles on the court. There were times when he showed flashes of greatness, including a triple-double versus the then-New Jersey Nets on November 9, 2002.
Despite showing promise as a rookie, Williams’ career ended after a severe motorcycle crash that destroyed his career and nearly cost him his life. With Williams removed from their future plans, the Bulls were not afforded the luxury of focusing on other positions in the next few drafts.
No. 4 Best: Kirk Hinrich
Kirk Hinrich is not the player he used to be, but in his first stint with the Bulls the No. 7 pick in the 2003 draft is a solid NBA contributor.
Hinrich will never wow you with athleticism; he is simply a good basketball player.
Sam Smith of Bulls.com recently wrote an article which takes a look at the draft selections of of current general manager Gar Forman and those of John Paxon, Vice President of Basketball Operations, who was responsible for selecting Hinrich in 2003. Smith rates Hinrich as the sixth best player in that highly touted class.
No. 4 Worst: Marcus Fizer
Upon being drafted No. 4 overall in the 2000 NBA draft, Marcus Fizer was expected to be the Bulls’ star power forward for the next 10 years.
Instead, the talented, yet maddening player never took the NBA seriously.
Fizer was quoted in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article written about his current comeback bid:
I took for granted the gift of my talent. I just didn't approach it the right way - not at all. I was rolling in 15 minutes before practice. I wasn't getting taped. After practice, I was running out of there...I was like, "These guys are crazy," but I understand it now.
Too bad he did not know then what he knows now.
No. 3 Best: Taj Gibson
Taj Gibson has exceeded all of his expectations since being selected 26th in the 2009 NBA Draft. Gibson started 70 out of 82 games in his rookie season and has averaged 7.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in his four-year NBA career.
Gibson has proven that he can excel in any role that he is asked to play. If the Bulls needed him to start in place of starting power forward Carlos Boozer, he could fill that role admirably. Gibson is just as comfortable coming off the bench.
The Bulls got incredible value with Gibson.
No. 3 Worst: Eddy Curry
What ever happened to Eddy Curry?
The Harvey, Ill. native never lived up to the promise of being a dominant low-post presence. He flashed offensive potential early in his NBA tenure. It was poor workout habits and an irregular heartbeat that cost Curry the opportunity to fulfill his potential.
Curry was supposed to be the center of the future when drafted fourth overall by Chicago in 2001, but that turned out not to be the case. Curry did have his best year with the Bulls in helping the team to a 47-35 record and a playoff berth in 2004-05.
No. 2 Best: Jimmy Butler
Getting a quality player with the 30th pick is tough to do. The Bulls found a gem when they drafted Jimmy Butler in 2011.
Usually players who experience NBA success after being selected late in the first round are foreign players who are then groomed overseas. Seldom do late-round picks turn out to be more than role players.
Butler has become a star on the defensive end, while his offense has the potential to improve immensely. The sky is the limit for him. If he continues to work on his outside shooting, he can turn out to be an all-star.
No. 2 Worst: Mario Austin
Mississippi State's Mario Austin was the 39th selection in the 2003 draft. It is mindful to note that Austin never played one game in the NBA, despite being heralded as a strong rebounder and interior presence.
The Bulls had Tyson Chandler, Fizer and Curry on their roster at the time of the draft, so it was curious to see them take Austin, especially with such players as Steve Blake, Zaza Pachulia and Kyle Korver still on the board.
No. 1 Best: Joakim Noah
The Bulls’ best draft selection not named Derrick Rose since 2000 is Joakim Noah.
Who knew that the young man with the seersucker suit would become one of the top centers in the league?
The Bulls had an inkling that Noah had the potential to help redefine the center position. Thus far the No. 9 pick of the 2007 NBA draft is an all-star and one of the cornerstones of the franchise.
Noah’s energy is infectious, but it did not start that way.
His Bulls career started off rocky. In 2008, Noah clashed with several teammates as well as the coaching staff. The confrontations resulted in a suspension which was unanimously voted on by his teammates.
At the time, the then rookie took the suspension (courtesy of ESPN.com) in stride:
They just told me what I did was unacceptable and I'm just going to move on from here. I've just got to accept it. What do you want me to say? I've just got to move on. There's nothing I can do about it.
What Noah did was continue to work on his game and become, according to ESPN, one of the NBA’s top 20 players.
No. 1 Worst: Dalibor Bargaric
The Bulls chose the infamous Dalibor Bagaric with the 24th pick in the 2000 NBA draft. The 7’1” Croatian center was billed as the answer in the middle for the Bulls. But after joining the team, Bagaric was abysmal.
He averaged 2.6 points and 2.5 rebounds in his three-year NBA career.
The Bargaric experiment was an absolute waste. His selection helped usher in a dark period for a Bulls franchise not long removed from having won six NBA titles in eight seasons.