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The 3 Most Intriguing 2014 NBA Draft Prospects for Chicago Bulls

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The 3 Most Intriguing 2014 NBA Draft Prospects for Chicago Bulls
Skip Peterson
As one of the nation's top scorers, the Bulls should give T.J. Warren a look this summer.

The Chicago Bulls have two top-20 picks in the 2014 NBA Draft, and it's a good thing because they need a few upgrades.

Luckily for the Bulls, they should be able to fill out the roster quite nicely with their picks. It's the perfect draft to have multiple selections. The 2014 class is loaded with potential All-Stars, elite athletes, scorers, three-point specialists and more.

Chicago will have eight players under contract next season, seven if Carlos Boozer is amnestied, which seems very likely given his recent performances. If it lands a big free agent, roster depth could be limited, and the two rookies the Bulls draft with the No. 16 and 19 picks could stand to see some playing time.

Some have pegged the Bulls with prospects like Michigan State's Adreian Payne or Connecticut's Shabazz Napier, given their experience in a winning system. Both players also seem to have that demeanor Chicago likes in its players.

Not to say those are bad picks.

Payne can serve as a stretch 4, giving Chicago the best of both worlds in size, scoring and someone who can space the floor. Napier is a scoring guard who could give the Bulls' second unit a spark and is fresh off a National Championship victory.

However, there are a lot of other players who deserve consideration.

Chicago desperately needs wings who can score and attack the rim. While they may not a "safe" pick like Payne and Napier, they're definitely players who, if given the chance, could become dominant scorers.

 

T.J. Warren, SF, NC State

The Bulls need someone who can score. Not many did that better than NC State's T.J. Warren this past season.

The sophomore was the nation's second-leading scorer behind Creighton’s Doug McDermott and led the country in field goals made inside the arc. Warren has an incredible touch around the rim and also has a killer mid-range and faceup game in the post.

The one knock on his offense is his three-point shooting.

It's an area the Bulls have struggled in the past couple of years, ranking near the bottom of the league in consecutive seasons. However, the Second Team All-American makes up for his poor perimeter shooting (27 percent) with his ability to attack paint and finish.

Warren also works well off the ball, a must in Tom Thibodeau's offense, as it relies on ball movement and players cutting to the basket.

The Bulls could take Warren with its 16th pick, giving them a chance to lock up a true scorer and still leave them with an option to take one of the next two players with the No. 19 pick.

 

Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse

With an amnesty clause hanging over Boozer's head, the Bulls will have to look at some players to fill the backup power forward spot.

Even though Jerami Grant played the 3 in college, in an evolving NBA, he can easily pass off as a 4. And plus, the Bulls already play the 6'9" Taj Gibson at center when Joakim Noah is off the floor.

While the Syracuse product doesn't quite possess the size that Boozer does, Grant is a natural scorer and athlete, able to take players off the bounce and finish at the rim from the perimeter.

The one caveat with him as a power forward is his shooting ability, as he attempted just five three-pointers this past season, making none. However, at 20 years of age, Grant has plenty of time to develop an outside shot, something he'll likely need, regardless of which forward position he ultimately plays.

Grant is also a very good rebounder. He averaged just under seven rebounds per game his sophomore season, with roughly 36 percent of them coming on the offensive end.

Aside from his offensive prowess, Grant has a lot of defensive upside. The sophomore stands at 6'8" and has a wingspan of 7'2", perfect for breaking up passing lanes and cutting off players on the attack. During his sophomore season, Grant posted a defensive rating of 98.7, per sports-reference.com.

Mixed with his quickness and overall athleticism, Grant could prove to be a great two-way player, something that should have Thibodeau licking his chops.

 

Zach LaVine, G, UCLA

The Bulls haven't had a ton of luck drafting young players the past few years (Marquis Teague, James Johnson, trading for Tyrus Thomas), but with a dire need for scorers, they might want to take a chance on UCLA's freshman, Zach LaVine.

LaVine has top-level athleticism and is also a proven shooter, knocking down 37 percent of his threes during his lone year with the Bruins.

This is exactly the kind of prospect the Bulls should look at. Chicago lacks athleticism on the perimeter, with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler (kind of) as the only players who can attack the basket.

LaVine's game is still a little rough around the edges due to his inexperience, but a coach like Tom Thibodeau—who has shown he can bring the best out of just about any player—would be a nice match for LaVine.

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Taking LaVine with the 16th or 19th pick could be a gamble, but Chicago has been playing it fairly safe the past couple of drafts with picks like Tony Snell, Erik Murphy, Butler and even Taj Gibson back in 2009.

Also, with no guarantee that breakout point guard D.J. Augustin will re-sign this offseason, it’s a solid backup plan, as LaVine can play both guard positions. 

Ultimately, the Bulls' needs are simple: Get someone who can create his own shot and take some pressure off of Rose. Chicago has struggled drastically late in games, and it cost them Games 1 and 2 against the Washington Wizards.

Warren, LaVine and Grant fit that mold and could contribute right away if given the chance.

Any two of these players would give Chicago great speed on the wing, allowing them to run after rebounds or steals. With their current roster, they have very little chance to push the ball due to lack of speed and finishing ability.

The Bulls could compete for a title in 2014-15, but in order to do so, they might have to start going away from their norm and taking chances on some high-reward players.

It might be Chicago's time to start rolling the dice again.

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