For those of us that are desperately trying to forget the NBA Finals for obvious reasons, the quick turnaround to the 2012 NBA Draft is the perfect distraction. With only one locked in pick (The Unibrow to the Hornets), there is a TMZ level of speculation about who will round out the top 5, and what veteran players will be traded.
There is an insane amount of veterans on the block, and it could make for a flurry of moves come Thursday night. Yes, that’s your cue to sign up for Twitter if you haven’t already. Last year was comical to watch Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports beat the ESPN guys to punch all night by tweeting picks and trades a good 3-5 minutes before you’d see it on TV.
Players like Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Kyle Lowry, Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay & Pau Gasol have all been mentioned in potential deals. And let’s not forget Dwight Howard’s reality show that is about to start a new season that inevitably leads to him proving again that his brand takes precedence over winning.
For the Bulls, this is new territory. The Derrick Rose injury has them looking ahead to the ’13-’14 season when last year’s MVP is hopefully close to 100%. Whether you want to admit or not, next year is a wash for the Bulls. It will remind fans of the ’09 & ’10 seasons that provided little gratification other than ill-fated in the moment playoff hopes. I’ve already said that I’d sit Rose all season in hopes of pulling a ’96-’97 Spurs and getting lucky in the ’13 lottery. Hey, if a 1.7% chance can turn into D Rose, why can’t an extremely mediocre team (minus Rose) land a top 5 pick a year from now?
it’s not likely, but the talk of Noah and/or Deng getting moved shows the Bulls know they aren’t on Miami & OKC’s level. The Deng to the Warriors for the #7 pick was rightfully shot down because the Bulls want to shed salary, not add to a bloated payroll. And who could blame them if you’re forced to take back Andris Biedrins (2 years & $18 million left) or Richard Jefferson (2 years & $21 million left).
If the Bulls are to move into the lottery, the legitimate options are the Kings at #5 and the Raptors at #8. Both teams could use a small forward, and both have the cap space to absorb Deng’s contract (2 years & $27 million left). I’d make the deal with either team if they were interested. The fact that both teams might draft another young player is why they’re in the lottery every year.
The Bulls know they’ve maxed out with this current core and need to find a way to pair another star with Rose. If you got the Kings pick, there’s a great chance that Harrison Barnes will be there (I’m a big fan of his game and a kid that will be a better pro than Deng eventually). If you get the #8 pick from Toronto, you can take Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Ross, John Henson, Austin Rivers or Andre Drummond.
As for Noah, he’s unlikely to be moved, but I wouldn’t make him untouchable if the right deal came along. If the goal is to keep Omer Asik and Taj Gibson long term, Noah might have to be moved if they refuse to amnesty Boozer. Can you get the #2 pick from MJ’s Badcats for ‘Keem? You have to at least make the call, no? The ‘Cats are open to dealing that pick, which means I’d be burning up MJ’s cell and keeping him form shanking his tee shot on 14.
At that point, you could potentially have two top picks and give yourself star hope for the future. I’d take Bradley Beal at #2 and Barnes at #5, or Beal at #2 and either Lamb, Henson or Drummond at #8. It’s all speculative and we know the Bulls sit on their ass as much as any team in this league, but it’s fun to talk about. Having two top picks can give you reasons for ’13-’14 hope and get you out from underneath Noah’s and Deng’s $10+ million a year deals.
Everything & everyone should be on the table with this team except #1. D Rose needs athletes around him that can run with the Thunder & Heat, and repeat again after me…not guys who are solely regular season gangsters.
So who are my favorite players in this draft? Besides Davis, there are a few that I’d have no problem taking with a lottery pick. Then, there are two enigmas that could make a GM look like a genius or eventually get him fired. Here’s are some highlights of my favorite players in this class…
The surest thing in the draft by a mile reminds me of Kevin Garnett. He might be more Marcus Camby right now, but he’s a driven kid that will work tirelessly on his game and become one of the league’s best players. Quickly.
How good would Tony Wroten look in a Bulls uniform? Being a lefty myself, it’s easy to love a silky smooth left handed baller like the Washington guard. He is really good passer who will wow fans with a J-Will like swagger, can break you down off the dribble, get to the rim with a quick first step & can finish at the rim in traffic. At 6’6, he is versatile enough to play some point as well as the 2. His jumper needs word, but he is one of my favorite players in this class.
Beal is a more explosive Eric Gordon and is also the 2nd best player in this draft. He can shoot from distance, create his own shot & get to the rim. He should be the pick if the Badcats don’t make a trade, but who knows with MJ. Beal has a good feel for the game, and isn’t some chucker looking to come in as a rook and get his. If he doesn’t go 2, he’d look real nice next to Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.
I love Barnes’ potential and have been on his bandwagon since he tested at a high level athletically at the combine. You have to love his mid range jumper and use of pump fakes to get his shot off. He isn’t a finished product by any means, but he’ll be a real nice pro. I think the 6’8 small forward would unquestionably be the pick if the Bulls obtain the 5th pick from the Kings. The thing with Barnes is, does he have that dog in him to crave the ball in clutch moments? That, and he’ll also need to improve his handle to create space against NBA defenders.
MKG’s jumper makes me nervous that he’ll never develop into a top tier wing in the NBA, but I love his game. He’s a tenacious defender, can finish at the rim, isn’t selfish, will make a seamless transition to the demands of the league & will work like a maniac to become a better player. If MKG could shoot like the next player on my list, he’d be the sure fire #2 pick…
I’m a big fan of Terrence Ross’ game. He’s athletic as hell, can jump out of the gym & finish in highlight reel fashion, has good lift on his jumper, and doesn’t lack confidence. He’s a better prospect than last year’s 1st round 2-guard, Alec Burks and a ton of upside. Ross needs to hit the gym with ferocity, but he’s an intriguing prospect that’s better than any 2-guard the Bulls have had the past two years. No, don’t you dare bring up Rip Hamilton’s name either. I don’t even want to acknowledge that barely functioning stiff.
There’s a lot to like about Damian Lillard. He can score the ball with ease, and could come in right away and light it up if given the opportunity. He’s a legit 6’2, can stroke J’s from distance, break down a defense & get to the rim, is a quality passer, competes at a high level & plays a position that teams are always looking to fill.
John “Condor Arms” Henson is another kid I like in this class. He needs to obviously add muscle to his 6’10 frame, but he has the length, athleticism, soft touch around the rim & overall skills that I like in power forwards. If he avoids the weight room as if it’s littered with STD’s, he could turn out to be Anthony Randolph or Brandan Wright. But he has the kind of raw talent that scouts salivate over.
I have no idea how Austin Rivers isn’t rated higher than the 8-10 range. I mean, teams actually like Meyers Leonard better than Doc’s kid? Whatever. This is why I should be running one of these teams. Anyway, Rivers is a legit talent with ability to be a lead guard for a squad. If the Hornets land him at #10, they’ll be getting a steal to pair with The Unibrow. He has a star level crossover, has balls to take and make big shots & can get to the rim. The fact that he’s 6’5 doesn’t hurt either. He won’t finish above the rim like Russell Westbrook, but his ability to finish with either hand will help him at the NBA level.
Watching the Bulls the past two years makes you appreciate 2-guards that can actually shoot the ball with consistency. The Reggie Miller comparisons are a massive stretch for Jeremy Lamb, but the 6’5 guard can shoot the hell out of the ball. His 6’11 wingspan and athleticism will help him get his shot off at the next level, and would look really nice to D Rose (if a Deng trade happens, of course). He sometimes goes through the motions, but so do a lot of young players. Lamb can put it on the floor and get to the rim, which is essential for wing players in today’s NBA.
Those are my favorite players in this draft. Sure, Thomas Robinson is a beast, but I prefer 6’10-6’11 power forwards. It’s too tough for smaller 4′s to get their shots off (Hey, Carlos Boozer!), and that’s why he was left off the list. I don’t like Tyler Zeller or Dion Waiters, Kendall Marshall and you can have Jared Sullinger’s bum ass. And what position is Terrence Jones going to play in the league? And no, he isn’t Lamar Odom.
As for the enigmas, I’d be very tempted to spend a pick in the 6-12 range on Andre Drummond, but he might get me fired in three years. He also could be an all-star and make a GM look like ’96 Jerry West. He has all of the athletic skills and measurables you want in a big man, but he’s the definitive boom or bust player in this class. He is far more likely to become Oliver Miller or Eddy Curry than he is Andrew Bynum, but athletic 6’11 280 pound big men don’t come around every year.
As for Perry Jones III, he has incredible skills, but he is a tweener (and potential headcase) if there ever was one. I’d risk a pick in the late teens or early twenties on him, but not in the lottery. After Tyrus Thomas (who I loved in ’06), I’ll never again fall for a guy without a specified position.
The NBA Draft is especially exciting for Bulls fans this year because of the potential trades that could involve one or two of their best players. They’ve accepted having to break up this current group, but it remains to be seen if Stand Pat Pax will actually pull the trigger on a deal that will free up money for his cash strapped squad. If they don’t make a deal Thursday, you’ll know they’re on the ’14 free agent plan (LeBron, Wade, Bosh & Gay are again all free after that season). That’s the summer when Deng’s deal comes off the books, and when they’re more likely to mercifully amnesty Boozer (those moves would provide nearly $30 million in cap space). So yes, you could be forced to wait two years while they plan for the inevitable free agent failure. Again.