NBA Draft Combine Prospects Chicago Bulls Must Watch Most Closely

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NBA Draft Combine Prospects Chicago Bulls Must Watch Most Closely
Gregory Bull/Associated Press
UCLA's Kyle Anderson is one of the most unique prospects in this year's class.

The Chicago Bulls have a few glaring needs, and with the NBA Draft Combine upon us, this is who they should be looking at.

The combine is the place for prospects to make a case for their stock and perhaps move up a few spots on some draft boards. With numerous drills and the ever-so-important interview, team scouts will have each prospect under a microscope.

Chicago's offseason plans are simple: Find someone who can put the ball in the basket. Whether he’s scoring from behind the arc or off the dribble shouldn't matter since the Bulls don’t have much of either.

The Bulls need depth up front more than anything, but with a lack of backcourt scoring, their draft focus will likely be getting Derrick Rose someone who can take some of the pressure off the MVP.

This year's draft class has more than a few potentially explosive scorers, and with two mid-late first-round picks, Chicago’s shot at landing one (or two) is favorable.

 

Kyle Anderson

After the Luol Deng trade, the Bulls no longer had that jack-of-all-trades player. As good as Joakim Noah was, he wasn’t scoring like Deng during his two months on the team.

UCLA's Kyle Anderson can be that player, though.

He's a great passer from the forward position and can knock down shots with efficiency, shooting 48 percent from downtown this past season with the Bruins. His incredible rebounding ability (nearly nine per game last season) would also make him a great fit in Chicago's system.

Anderson has a lot of upside defensively as well, something Tom Thibodeau should love. His near 7'3" wingspan helps him break up passes in the lane, and he showed it in college by averaging nearly two steals per game.

What Chicago needs, though, is athleticism. He doesn't have great speed or agility, and it could hinder his game once he is in the NBA. If defenders consistently press him, his versatility would be rendered ineffective.

Anderson doesn't have to show elite athleticism. He just has to show he won't be shut down on every single play he has the ball.

 

T.J. Warren

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
T.J. Warren is a great finisher and excels in transition.

If Chicago wants a scorer, it should look no further than NC State's star guard T.J. Warren.

Warren was the nation's No. 2 leading scorer, and he showed he could score in a variety of ways. His mid-range game was among the best in the country, making 58 percent of his shots inside the arc.

He's a great finisher near the rim, and has a deadly 16- to 18-foot jump shot. He can even post up, as his faceup game is very effective when he has a mismatch.

Like Anderson, though, Warren's athleticism has come into question a bit. There are also doubts about his ball-handling skills, so this is definitely an area scouts will look at.

Another knock on Warren's game is his outside shooting. During his freshman year, Warren connected on 52 percent of his threes, but that was on just 27 shots.

As a sophomore, he posted an abysmal 26.7 percent on 116 three-point attempts.

Warren's stock could take a hit if he is unable to show he has added some range to his shot as well as show some flashes of, at least, an average athlete.

 

Zach LaVine

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press
Zach LaVine could be the explosive player the Bulls need.

If the Bulls are unable to land Kyle Anderson, they can always look to his teammate Zach LaVine.

The UCLA freshman is one of the players with a lot to gain in the combine. He saw very limited time with the Bruins this season, but it seems he has all the tools to become a dynamic scorer in the pros.

Unlike Warren and Anderson, LaVine's athleticism is his selling point. He's a tremendous leaper and has an explosive first step, and his three-point shot is reliable as well as he shot 37.5 percent. His potential, really, is off the charts.

It all looks good on paper, right? LaVine has to show these weren't just flashes.

From an individual standpoint, he didn't benefit much from having Anderson and Jordan Adams on the team since they clearly overshadowed him.

Despite LaVine's hot start to the season, scoring double-digit points in nine of his first 10 games, he quickly cooled off, with just eight double-digit scoring outputs in the following 27 games.

LaVine's struggles begin in the half court. He doesn't have great decision-making skills and struggles to run offenses, making him, perhaps, more valuable as a 2-guard.

The freshman prospect will have to show great effort during the combine, and that's what Chicago will surely focus on.

The interview could be a big factor in LaVine's final valuation as well. He'll have to show he has the maturity and focus to come into the NBA and help teams win.

 

Shabazz Napier

Chris Steppig/Associated Press
Shabazz Napier has to excel in the combine.

It wouldn't hurt to land a backup point guard with some winning experience.

After a great run to win the National Championship, Shabazz Napier's stock made a big leap into the draft's first round.

Napier still has a lot to prove, though. He's an undersized guard with a scoring mentality and, while that's easy to get away with it in college, the NBA isn't as forgiving.

The shot-making ability is there for the Husky guard, as he shot 40 percent from downtown last season, but there are questions about his explosiveness, something not particularly beneficial given his short height.

He is a solid finisher near the rim, though, which could mask some of his issues off the dribble as long as he can get in the paint.

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A strong combine from Napier could have him climbing up some more on a few draft boards.

Every prospect at the combine has something to prove. Whether it's reassuring scouts they're worth a lottery selection or showing them they're better than projected, there's something crucial on the line.

For Anderson, Warren, LaVine and Napier, they will each have to prove they're the complete package. The Bulls are very careful with who they draft, seldom making a risky choice.

Chicago is possibly a scorer away from making another title run, and while it may not find a franchise-changing player with the No. 16 or 19 picks, it still needs someone who can make an immediate impact.

The combine won't answer every question, but it's sure to give the Bulls a clearer picture as to who can contribute right away and help push them over the hurdle.

 

Note: Stats gathered from sports-reference.com and DraftExpress.com.

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