The Bulls have become a dangerous playoff team, currently seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, an accomplishment in itself considering their limited roster.
With the emergence of Joakim Noah and the return of Derrick Rose next season, the Bulls seem to be just a piece or two away from getting back to elite level status in the East next year. Those pieces could very well come from the upcoming NBA draft.
According to draftexpress.com, if the season were to end today, the Bulls would have the sixteenth and twentieth picks in the upcoming 2014 NBA draft. With this being one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, the Bulls are in a spot to land a couple players who can come in and contribute right away.
Let’s take a look at the top players the Chicago Bulls should be targeting in the 2014 NBA draft.
With two mid-first-round picks, the Bulls will certainly consider going with one big man and one scoring guard. Unfortunately, the depth for big men isn’t spectacular in this draft, so let’s take a look at the one player who is a very realistic target in the middle of the first round.
Adreian Payne has been shooting up many teams’ draft boards as he finally becomes 100 percent healthy and continues to play well into the NCAA tournament.
At 6’10” and 245 pounds, Payne is a beast. The big man from Michigan State can do just about everything. This season, he’s averaging 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 51.5 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from downtown.
He’s a great rebounder and a very good ball-handler for someone of his size. He also can score in the post and has a very nice outside shooting touch. Payne would thrive in Chicago, providing scoring off the bench as a stretch 4 that can also bang down low.
The most ideal big man for the Bulls in this draft is Kentucky center, Willie Cauley-Stein. However, it is widely believed that he will be gone before the sixteenth pick.
The Bulls could also consider reaching on Louisville big man, Montrezl Harrell or international centers, Jusuf Nurkic or Clint Capela.
The most important thing Chicago needs to address in this draft is scoring on the outside. They rank third to last in the NBA in points per game. If they don’t end up deciding to take a big, then they will certainly go with two scoring threats.
There’s quite a few realistic options here, so let’s take a quick look at each.
If Hood is still there when Chicago is on the clock, the Bulls would be elated. At 6’8” and 215 pounds, Hood brings ideal size on the wing and a diverse scoring arsenal.
At Duke this season he averaged 16.1 points, 3.9 boards and 2.1 assists per game. He can light it up from three, shooting 42 percent on the season, though whether that translates to the longer NBA three-point shot remains to be seen. Hood also has the ability to go around defenders and attack the basket or pull up with a nice mid-range game.
The Bulls would greatly benefit from the automatic scoring he would bring in.
Zach LaVine checks in at a nimble 6’5", 180 pounds but possesses all of the upside in the world. The Bulls would be drafting him because of his upside, but the risk could reap huge rewards.
LaVine’s season averages weren’t spectacular: 9.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists. However, he minutes were limited at UCLA, as he sat behind fellow NBA prospect, Jordan Adams.
As you’ll see from the video above, Zach LaVine possesses ridiculous athleticism, which with great ball-handling skills and a sweet outside shooting stroke forms quite the package.
He would provide the Bulls a young, dynamic player, who can play the point or the 2.
Kyle Anderson’s stat line is flat-out ridiculous. The 20-year-old literally did everything at UCLA this past season, averaging 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Although he’s not a great athlete, he possesses arguably the best court vision of any player in the country.
He has the ability to play any position on the court besides center, but at 6’9” and 235 pounds, he is a Magic Johnson-type point guard. He’s greatly improved his three-point range this season, shooting 48.2 percent on 58 attempts, he’s a good rebounder and has a very solid mid-range game.
For Chicago, his ability to provide versatility and create plays all over the court will make him a very unique asset.
Doug McDermott is practically a lock for the Naismith National College Player of the Year Award, posting impressive averages of 26.7 points and seven boards, while shooting 52.6 percent from the field, 45 percent from three and 86.4 percent from the charity stripe. Coming in at 6’8” and 225 pounds, the guy can flat-out score.
You don’t just slide into the fifth spot on the all-time NCAA scoring list without being able to ball a little bit. The knock on him always will be his lack of quickness and athleticism, but he makes up for it with his shooting skills and basketball IQ.
McDermott stands at 6’8” and 225 pounds. For Bulls fans, think of Kyle Korver, except a better overall scorer, someone with the ability to put the ball on the floor as well as go down in the post.
T.J. Warren is one of the best pure scorers in this draft. At 6’8” and 215 pounds, the sophomore from North Carolina State averaged 24.9 points and 7.1 boards per game this season.
He doesn’t shoot the three-ball particularly well, but where he thrives is in attacking the basket, as well as pulling up for mid-range jumpers. Overall he shot 52.5 percent from the field this season.
The number one thing the Bulls need help with is scoring from the outside, and Warren would come in right away and provide exactly that.
Stauskas can flat-out shoot the ball. The sophomore shooting guard from Michigan has greatly improved from his freshman season. He’s transformed his game from that of a solid role player into the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year.
On the season he’s averaging 17.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists, while shooting a blazing 45 percent from downtown.
Stauskas is on the shooting level of guys like Kyle Korver and J.J. Redick, however, Stauskas is a better overall scorer and passer than both.
Although, his athleticism may be a bit wanting, he has a great basketball IQ and is deceptively quick, able to get around defenders and score in multitude of ways. He would be a great scoring addition for the Bulls.