Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls made some draft-day moves to get the guy they wanted, so how will it affect their depth chart?
As first reported by USA Today’s Sam Amick, the Bulls traded their 16th and 19th picks to the Denver Nuggets for Creighton's Doug McDermott. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver later announced during the draft Anthony Randolph was included in the deal.
The 22-year-old will challenge Mike Dunleavy for the starting 3 spot, and could potentially win it given that he's a better scorer and a more capable defender.
The remaining starters will be more or less similar to the 2013-14 regular season's. The biggest addition will once again be Derrick Rose, who is returning to the starting lineup after missing his second consecutive season due to a knee injury.
Power forward stands to be a heated battle.
We'll start things off with the point guard spot and move up from there.
Starter: Derrick Rose
Chicago has struggled the past two years and three postseason appearances without Rose, its top scorer. It's unknown whether or not his minutes will be limited, though, as he returns from his second major knee injury in as many years.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Rose has been taking contact in practice for a few weeks and has participated in five-on-five drills. Johnson went on to write that a few people who saw the workouts and played against him said Rose was "displaying both explosion and speed in games."
One witness even said he "looks like the old Derrick Rose," per Ken Berger of CBS Sports.
There's no doubt Rose makes this Bulls team instantly better and even fringe contenders for the NBA title. Chicago's offensive woes, while not remedied by Rose's presence, are somewhat alleviated.
During Rose's last full season in 2010-11, also his MVP year, the Bulls posted an offensive rating of 108.3, 11th in the league. In 2013-14, that same rating would have placed them in the 11th spot once again, as opposed to their actual 102.5 rating which had them just two spots above dead last.
After winning 48 games without Rose (or former team captain Luol Deng), Rose is sure to take the Bulls past the 50-win threshold once again.
Rose is the only point guard under contract, but Chicago is likely to re-sign either Kirk Hinrich or D.J. Augustin. The decision on who could depend on whether or not they land Carmelo Anthony.
Starter: Jimmy Butler
Despite a below-average year offensively where he shot under 40 percent from the floor, Texas native Jimmy Butler was rewarded with All-Defensive Second Team honors. Butler was one of two Bulls players to make an NBA All-Defense team.
For his defense alone, Butler will be the starting 2-guard. Depending on what Chicago does in July, we could see Butler slide up to the 3, where he's a more natural fit due to his limited offense.
Still, Butler has been a big improvement over the likes of Keith Bogans and the oft-injured Rip Hamilton. The 24-year-old matches his aggressive defense on the offensive end, attacking the basket and consistently getting to the line.
There's still time for Butler to work on his shot, and he's shown flashes that he can be a solid catch-and-shoot guy. He'll have better looks from the perimeter with Rose around, giving him a chance to show he's better than the 28 percent rate he recorded from downtown this past season.
As he continues to improve, hopefully his offense will match his outstanding defense.
Backup: Tony Snell
After a solid rookie campaign, Tony Snell will likely see an increase in workload throughout the 2014-15 season. Snell averaged just 16 minutes per game, but he made the most of it, showing off potential on both ends of the floor.
It was, however, a disappointing year for the former New Mexico Lobo from behind the arc, as he shot 32 percent. The Bulls targeted shooters in the 2013 draft, so it was somewhat discouraging to see below-average production in that area.
However, Snell showed that he's more than just a spot-up shooter.
He drove the ball with success, shooting 48 percent inside the paint (outside of the restricted area), a figure above the league average, per NBA.com. It's a small sample size considering Snell didn't play much, but his teardrop is solid and his length helps him finish over bigger defenders.
Snell has a lot of upside, and at just 22 years of age, there's reason to get excited about his future in Chicago.
Starter: Doug McDermott
A rookie? Starting for Tom Thibodeau?! There's a first time for everything, right?
McDermott, the nation's leading scorer, was the guy Chicago wanted all along, as ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell points out on Twitter. He fills the Bulls' most dire need: Perimeter shooting.
The Creighton star can spot up, catch-and-shoot coming off of screens and can also create off the dribble. He has similar size to Dunleavy and could possibly slide up to the 4 on certain occasions given his slightly bigger frame.
McDermott isn't just a shooter. He also has a solid post-up game, where he can finish with a hook, an up-and-under or a fadeaway. He does, however, lack explosion, which could hurt him in the NBA, where defenders are far more athletic than the competition he faced in college.
What will push him over the top is his drive.
He has the motor Thibodeau loves in his players. McDermott will make the second-effort plays and he plays hard defense despite his average athleticism.
Bench: Mike Dunleavy
Mike Dunleavy had a solid season for Chicago, but he probably shouldn't start. As a shooter off the bench, however, he's a solid asset.
In fact, he holds enough value as a backup marksman that the Bulls could look to shop him, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune points out. Chicago will look to clear cap space for free agency, and Dunleavy’s $3.3 million deal gives them that much more room to work with.
Until a move is made, though, there's no reason to believe the former Blue Devil won't succeed with the second unit. Dunleavy was forced into the starting lineup and put up solid numbers, knocking down 38 percent of his three-point shots.
He’ll probably be given the chance to start, but a role off the bench where his primary concern is knocking down long-range shots seems like a better fit.
Starter: Carlos Boozer
Chances are Carlos Boozer won't be on the roster much longer with a possible trade or amnesty coming, but until then, it's hard to justify leaving a player making $16.8 million on the bench.
Boozer had his worst year as a Bull, averaging under 14 points per game on 46 percent shooting. All season long, he failed to find the mark on his mid-range shot—the thing that sets him apart from other power fowards—and played some underwhelming help defense along the way.
But despite his mediocre year, Boozer still possesses above-average offensive skills.
He's vastly more developed as a post player than Gibson is, evident by his wide array of moves that get him to the basket. And the threat of him stepping back into the 16-18 foot range is still there. The spacing just wasn't good this past season.
Boozer would presumably start over Gibson, albeit in a limited role similar to last season.
Backup: Taj Gibson
It was reported last month that Bulls coaches told Gibson to prepare to start next season, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Gibson quickly shot that down via Twitter, saying he was never told anything.
It's yet another reason I've left Gibson as the sixth man, a role he filled exceptionally well, finishing second in the award race behind Jamal Crawford, per NBA.com.
Gibson not only brings in scoring off the bench—he led the Bulls in total points—but his strong defense and incomparable energy on the boards are strong assets as well.
Offensively, though, Gibson is still limited.
Gibson has one go-to move in the post and struggles with double-teams. It's safe to say he'll improve his post game, as he did last summer, but if it will be enough to declare it significantly better than Boozer's is the main question.
Until Chicago decides what it will do with Boozer, Gibson will stay on the bench while playing starter minutes.
Depth: Cameron Bairstow
Chicago selected New Mexico senior Cameron Bairstow in the second round, a teammate of Tony Snell.
Bairstow burst onto the scene as a senior, becoming the Lobos' primary scoring option, averaging 20 points per game to go with seven boards. He can score from mid-range as well as use a variety of post moves.
The 23-year-old could compete for a roster spot, especially if Boozer is amnestied. At 6'9" and 250 pounds, Bairstow has great size for a power forward and his hustle on the glass and as a defender could make him a rotation player in the future if Chicago keeps him around.
Chances are Bairstow rides the bench unless there are major roster changes.
Starter: Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah proved he was the ultimate two-way center this past season, winning the league's Defensive Player of the Year Award and earning All-NBA First Team and All-Defensive First Team honors.
Coupled with his intense defense, Noah put on a passing clinic over the last few months of the season, becoming the Bulls' primary playmaker with his laser-accurate passes. Noah finished with a career-high 5.4 assists per game.
Noah turned Bulls games into events. Every night was a triple-double watch, a feat Noah reached four times this season, the second-most in the league. The 29-year-old star center will be one of the main catalysts in helping Chicago make a deep postseason run.
We've seen how Noah has evolved over the last two years without Rose. Now that the former league MVP is coming back, we could see the Frenchman step it up yet another notch as he'll have someone that could make plays for him and vice versa.
Backup: Greg Smith
We haven't seen a lot of Greg Smith during his three-year career since he's played in only 89 games. During the 2012-13 campaign, though, Smith had his share of bright moments.
The former Houston Rocket showed a knack for rebounding the ball, averaging 10 rebounds per 36 minutes. He also posted a game of 18 points and 19 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers later that season.
Smith has really good size as well at 6'10" and 250 pounds. He could become a defensive force if he works at it, as he could probably defend both 4s and 5s.
With Nazr Mohammed's free-agent status up in the air amidst the potential roster changes, Smith will compete for the backup spot if he's not dealt during free agency. And there’s a good chance he wins it.
Depth: Anthony Randolph
The 24-year-old has been with five different NBA teams, and there is a chance he'll see another by the end of the summer. Chicago could flip his $1.8 million deal to clear cap space as they chase a star free agent.
Randolph could be a decent fit in Chicago, though. He's an incredible athlete who can rebound and block shots a solid rate (10.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes). Unfortunately for Randolph, he’s never had a real chance to make an impact.
There's a chance the Bulls keep him around if Boozer if amnestied, however. He would then serve as both Gibson and Noah’s backup since he can play both positions thanks to his 6'11" frame.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.