Can the Bulls use D-League Talent to Improve?
In a year where the Bulls have a ton of cap space to add NBA free agents they may want to fill out the end of their roster from the D-league.
If all goes well with the off season they'll only add two players with that cap space, and maybe another via the veterans exception. However, the price to pay for all that cap space was collecting expiring contracts, and thus leaving your roster short of the required twelve to dress on game days.
So in order to fill out the roster the Bulls will have to find bodies to not only compete in camp, but also to fill the active roster.
They can fill it out Via the draft, free agency, un-drafted rookies, and the D-league. The D-league is the area I'll be focusing on for the sake of this article. So without further Ado.
The Math on the Current Active Roster
First, let's take a look at who will stay on the current roster. There's Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, the two captains Luol Deng, and Kirk Hinrich, and last year's two draft picks Taj Gibson, and James Johnson.
That's six out of fifteen possible roster spots taken up for next season. That leaves a maximum of nine spots to fill out. Although fifteen is not necessary it is the amount they had on their team's active roster in the 2009-2010 season. So we'll assume it'll be the same this coming season as well.
This is also not taking into account there won't be any sign, and trades like its been rumored around the NBA the past two years now, in the case of Kirk Hinrich, and possibly Luol Deng.
That leaves Acie Law, Ronald "Flip" Murray, Hakim Warrick, Brad Miller, Devin Brown, Jannero Pargo, Rob Kurz, Chris Richard, and Joe Alexander.
From the 2009-2010 bench guys one has to assume all are gone, but for two or three at the most. Most likely zero remain on the roster this upcoming season. Any who do come back will do so at the veteran minimum. Since I have no first hand resources to draw from, and very little is written and reported about the bench players of the Bulls, I won't begin to assume who, for how much, or why.
Then you add the two players in free agency. The one max, and the one mid level, and your one draft pick that's three more.
Let's just assume things go well in the off-season for the sake of argument. That will tempt an end of the road veteran (Ray Allen?) to take the veteran exception to come here, and play with a powerhouse championship ready team to put an exclamation point at the end of his career. Add one more.
So counting the six no brainers, and the two free agents, and assumed veteran exception, and the draft pick that brings the total to ten players. That leaves five extra spots to fill the likely fifteen player active roster.
The remaining bench guys I mentioned earlier can be an option, or two as well, but lets not assume any will stick, and throw them all in Jerry Angelo's remaining hand basket as a possible resource.
That said I have five interesting names from the D-league I researched for the purpose of this article. Let's get to them.
Morris Almond SG/SF 6'6" 215: A pure scorer. He's a guy that can take over games in amazing fashion. He can shoot equally well pulling up, or spotting up. Almond has a good first step, and has the ability to weave in, and out of the lane, and will finish with either hand. He's very stout, and doesn't mind taking contact. He goes to the line at an amazing 11 times per game. When he gets there he takes full advantage shooting a remarkable .819 from the charity stripe.
Although he is an amazing shooter/scorer there is a downside to his game. He's not particularly interested in playing defense. He's also a guy who loves to shoot, shoot, shoot! He's rated among the worst passers in the entire D-league. His intangibles are also a question. He has a reputation as being aloof, but his talent is intriguing.
Three Point Specialist
Chad Toppert SG 6'6" 210: I couldn't find out a whole lot about this kid as I can't remember seeing him play even at New Mexico his college team. I also couldn't find any scouting report on this kid's game. But just looking at his stats at New Mexico, and with the Albuquerque Thunder he can shoot the three at an amazing efficiency.
He's been near 50 percent from the three point stripe since his new Mexico playing days. He shot an amazing .481 percent from there this year. And not just on a few shots. He's attempted 231 while draining a mind boggling 111 in 50 games! He may be worth a league minimum contract. At the very least an invite to camp.
Small Forward Who Can Play the Two Guard
Cartier Martin 6'7" 218: Here's a kid with great physical ability. Nice sized athlete who is versatile enough to play the two or the three on either end of the court. Has a high basketball IQ and plays well in half court sets. He can fill it up from the outside too. Able to hit a variety of shots on the perimeter. He had a .455 three point efficiency on 134 attempts in 31 games with the Iowa Energy of the D-league and played in their version of the championship called the showcase. Also a good free throw shooter at nearly 78 percent, and is willing to draw the foul with drives to the basket. He got a call up with the Golden State Warriors this past season, and also played in Italy in the 2009-2010 season for a brief stint.
Ben Gordon Light
Antoine Agudio 6'3" 185: Agudio is a sixth man instant offense type. That's why my title for this section is Ben Gordon light. The best thing Agudio offers is a deadly array of outside shots. With a quick release and perfect mechanics he can set up, and shoot the rock in an instant. A hand in his face does not bother him one bit. Can shoot off the dribble, or spotting up, and can drain the three with ease, and efficiency. He has a high basketball IQ as well. He's also a willing, and solid defender. His three point percentage was .455 on 221 attempts in all 50 D-league regular season games.
A Familiar Face
JamesOn Curry 6'4" 200: Once a Bull he was waived in July of 08.' So there is familiarity here. Perhaps it's because of that familiarity they won't bring him back, but one thing is for certain. He can shoot. Won't play defense though. Perhaps this time he'll give it the old college try just so he sticks in the NBA this time around. Its a low risk possible high reward scenario though as he won't come for more than the minimum if he made the final roster. Shot at nearly a .520 clip from the field, and draining .436 percent from the three point line.
The Final Word
I do think the biggest key to the Bulls 2010-2011 season is defense, so they can use their athleticism, and young legs in the open floor. But a couple of shooters, and a post game will compliment the game of Derrick Rose offensively. That's why I kind of focused on wing players, and three point shooting combo guards for the most part.
Finding a coach we know is important, and getting a superstar free agent, or two certainly wouldn't hurt either, but the threat of a three point marksmen is not far behind in importance. At least if this team expects to go anywhere in the near future other than a first round bounce on an eighth or seventh seed.
Rose needs better role players around him to take advantage of his skill set. That's getting to the lane, and either finishing strong at the hoop, or dishing it out to shooters. The Bulls need these shooters to drain their attempts at a high efficiency in order to open the lane, and give Rose the room he needs to operate.