Bulls

There's talent at 22, but Bulls should take note of sketchy history

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There's talent at 22, but Bulls should take note of sketchy history

Much of the attention in the upcoming NBA Draft will be based around the hopes placed on Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns, with the chances for the Bulls to find a significant contributor less likely than the needy teams at the top of the board.

And at 22, while recent history suggests the Bulls won’t find a gem at that particular spot, there will be gems all around waiting to be selected —making it a dangerous proposition when revisionist history starts coming into play a few years from now.

After all, who would’ve thought the Bulls would’ve selected this year’s runner-up for Rookie of the Year at the 23rd spot, or a probable-max player in waiting with the last pick of the first round or a frontcourt mainstay at the 26th spot?

Here’s looking at you, Nikola Mirotic, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, respectively, as the Bulls have done a great job scouting through the years and finding players to fit into their long-held culture.

[MORE BULLS: Jimmy Butler earns NBA All-Defensive second team honors]

Many scouts and executives believe the draft’s depth is between the mid-first round and late first round, right where the Bulls are slated to pick unless something changes between now and then.

Despite the constant controversy surrounding the Bulls’ coaching situation, workouts are being held at the Advocate Center daily in preparation for the draft, business as usual — with the Bulls looking to disassociate themselves from the underwhelming history of players selected 22nd.

In the last 10 years, only Kenneth Faried has played well above his head being drafted at that spot, with some real duds and a handful of players who are contributors if not household names.

Jarrett Jack (2005) has been valuable, while Jared Dudley (2007) and Courtney Lee (2008) have been consistent pieces through their careers. Swingman Wilson Chandler and guard Arron Afflalo came not too far after Dudley, while Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City) and Nic Batum (Portland) went 24th and 25th after Lee.

Mason Plumlee (2013) is certainly starting to make a name for himself with the Brooklyn Nets.

[SHOP BULLS: Get your Bulls gear right here]

But make no mistake, there are some guys that make you go, “Wow, what happened to him?” or “Who?” Some real head-scratchers in hindsight.

Guard Elliot Williams (2010) has barely played 100 games, getting two 10-day contracts with the New Orleans Pelicans, a part of an empty back end of Round 1 that year, while Eric Bledsoe and Avery Bradley went 18th and 19th, respectively.

Victor Claver (2009) has played 80 games, while the Bulls found Gibson four picks later and Hawks swingman DeMarre Carroll went one pick after Gibson.

Marcus Williams (2006) was out of the league after four years, and the Connecticut point guard was taken two spots before All Star Kyle Lowry. Jordan Adams (2014) has played 30 games for Memphis this season, which is plenty more than the time Fab Melo (2012) received during his ill-fated stint.

Melo played in six games before signing with a team in Brazil last summer.

In other words, with the vast outcomes and seemingly hidden talent around the busts, due diligence must be exercised by the Bulls before making a selection in a few weeks.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Hub Arkush (ProFootball Weekly) and Jason Goch (SB Nation) join Kap on the panel.

The guys debate which team will finish with a higher draft pick when the season ends: Bulls or Blackhawks?

Plus, hear their reaction to the MLB’s new pace-of-play rule change.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: