Bulls

A history of teams moving in to the top 5 of the NBA Draft and what it might cost the Bulls

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A history of teams moving in to the top 5 of the NBA Draft and what it might cost the Bulls

It’s difficult to move up in the NBA Draft. Like, really difficult. More often than not it costs more than it should – like free agency – because teams are aware you’re moving up to go after a specific player. Few, if any, teams move up in the draft to position themselves better on draft night. So, you want Player X and don’t think he’ll be around when you pick? Ante up. Show us how much Player X means to your franchise.

Moving up in the top 5 is even more difficult and expensive (duh). The most recent examples are Philadelphia dealing with Boston last year, going from No. 3 to No. 1. The cost was Sacramento’s 2019 first-round pick, which will likely be in the first half of the lottery. In 2009 the Timberwolves dealt two key rotation pieces – Randy Foye and Mike Miller – to the Wizards for the No. 5 pick. In retrospect that doesn’t seem like much, but Foye was three years removed from being the No. 7 pick and had just averaged 16.3 points in 70 games; Miller was 28 and one of the better 3-point shooters in the league.

And when trying to move inside the top 5, you have to go all the way back to 2005. And that’s where Bulls fans should start paying attention.

The Utah Jazz were in desperate need of a point guard after cycling through the likes of Carlos Arroyo, Raul Lopez, Howard Eisley and Keith McLeod (who?) in the two years after John Stockton’s 2002 retirement. Utah had the fifth best odds in the Lottery after a 26-win season and, like the 2018 Bulls, were bumped back a spot after Milwaukee jumped from sixth to first.

Moving back one spot didn’t seem like much on the surface, but it was significant; there were three point guards near the top of the class – Illinois’ Deron Williams, Wake Forest’s Chris Paul and North Carolina’s Raymond Felton – who all had the chance to go in the top 5, along with the consensus top pick Andrew Bogut and the potential-oozing freshman Marvin Williams.The team was reportedly interested in Paul or Williams.

So here the Jazz were, sitting at No. 6 with the potential to see the three point guards go ahead of them. In hindsight, the next point guard wouldn’t be taken until Nate Robinson at No. 21. There were three clear-cut top point guards in the class, and Utah needed one of them.

So they found a trade partner. The Portland Trail Blazers had selected high school phenom Sebastian Telfair with the No. 13 pick the previous season, and were ready to hand him the keys to the offense with Damon Stoudamire set for free agency. Not necessarily needing a point guard, Portland became the perfect trading partner for a team looking to move up. Enter the Jazz.

In addition to the No. 6 pick, Utah also had the 27th pick thanks to a draft-night deal the previous season with Dallas.

Armed with assets, hours before the start of the 2005 draft the Jazz sent No. 6, No. 27 and a future first-round pick to the Blazers for the No. 3 pick. The caveat here – as it will later pertain to the Bulls – is that the future first was actually Detroit’s first-round pick in 2006; the Jazz had traded point guard Carlos Arroyo to the Pistons for a first-round pick, which was widely expected to be near the end of the first round. Detroit went 64-18 in ’05-06 and the pick wound up being No. 30; Utah kept its own pick in 2006, which wound up being No. 14.

That was the cost. Three first-round picks, though admittedly No. 27 and the contending Pistons’ pick weren’t oozing with value. Utah selected Williams over Paul, Portland got Martell Webster at No. 6 and used the other two picks on Linas Kleiza and a year later Joel Freeland.

How does this affect the Bulls? They’re in a similar situation as Utah…kind of. The Jazz had missed the playoffs each of the previous two seasons post-Stockton but felt they were turning a corner with 23-year-olds Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko leading the way. In fact, their eight leading scorers from the previous season were 28 or younger. They were on the right path if they could find a point guard to play with Boozer, Kirilenko, Matt Harpring, Mehmet Okur and Raja Bell.

The Bulls aren’t exactly one specific piece away like Utah clearly was – they’d miss the playoffs the following year but then win between 48 and 54 games each of the next four seasons after. But they could be targeting someone specific in the top 4 of the draft. And they just so happen to have assets, and just so happen to have two teams reportedly willing to move back in a deep class.

Memphis reportedly would like to move back, and if possible add Chandler Parsons’ absurd contract to a deal. This seems like a plausible idea at face value, but the Grizzlies are going to want something substantial in return. They tanked hard – Marc Gasol “rested” eight games after the All-Star break, with Memphis losing all eight of those – for a reason, and they aren’t going to attach their main asset to a deal just to get rid of Parsons’ remaining $49 million. Freeing up cap space is nice, but at what cost? Memphis isn’t in a positon to win now. True, they’d like to try and contend with Gasol (two years left) and Mike Conley (three years left) but attaching the 4th pick to Parsons is different from the Raptors attaching two picks to DeMarre Carroll in a trade with Brooklyn last year; that Raptors pick wound up being No. 29, as the Raptors knew they’d be contending.

The Bulls might entertain a deal of the Nos. 7 and 22 picks for No. 4 and Parsons. If Parsons weren’t included in the deal, it could still get done if Bobby Portis were added. The Bulls love Portis, but he’ll need a significant contract extension in 13 months and Lauri Markkanen has the power forward position on lockdown.

The Hawks are also a potential trade option. They reportedly are looking to move down and still be able to draft Trae Young, who could supplant a disgruntled Dennis Schroder at the point. Again, a package of the Nos. 7 and 22 picks plus Portis could be enough to get the deal done; Atlanta drafted forward John Collins a year ago but he doesn’t offer much as a pick-and-pop power forward. Portis would give them a solid complement. Then again, Atlanta couldn’t be sure Young would be available at 7, especially considering Orlando is picking No. 6 and has a serious need at the point.

Who would the Bulls be targeting at No. 3 or No. 4? Rumors are everywhere so it’s difficult to pinpoint. Michael Porter Jr. could now go as high as No. 2 to the Sacramento. That would mean international sensation Luka Doncic falls. Marvin Bagley’s name has been quiet for a while, while Jaren Jackson Jr. is having “monster workouts” that have him flying up draft boards. We won’t speculate.

For now just know that trading in to the top 5 is difficult. You need the assets to do it (check), a team with enough talent that moving up will push the franchise forward (check), a willing trade partner (check) and a player you really want (check?). The pieces are there for a potential move-up, but actually pulling the trigger is far more difficult than just writing about it.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jimmy Butler makes debut for Philly

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jimmy Butler makes debut for Philly

Patrick Finley and Anthony Herron join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00 - Mark Schanowski drops by to talk about Zach LaVine’s minutes load, Lauri Markkanen’s rehab and Jimmy Butler’s debut for Philly. Plus, they discuss if Draymond Green might have just pushed Kevin Durant out the door in Golden State when this season is over?

13:00 - The guys dissect Mitch Trubisky’s NFC Offensive Player of the Week award and Cody Parkey travelling to Soldier Field to practice kicking.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Windy City Bulls weekly roundup: Tyler Ulis

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Windy City Bulls weekly roundup: Tyler Ulis

Every week we will be looking at one player performing well with the Windy City Bulls in the NBA G League and take a look at how they could help the Chicago Bulls (NBA).

In his two NBA seasons, Tyler Ulis averaged 7.5 points, 4 assists, and 1 steal per game for the Phoenix Suns. The Marian Catholic alum signed a two-way deal with the Windy City Bulls this offseason, looking to prove he is a legitimate, NBA rotation-caliber point guard.

Entering Wednesday night’s game against the Memphis Hustle, Ulis is averaging 23 points, 3 rebounds and 8 assists per game.


Most impressive is the fact that the 5-foot 8 Ulis is getting to the free throw line nine times per game. That kind of volume and accuracy--83 percent from FT line--at the charity stripe can make up for the fact that he has yet to develop a reliable 3-point shot.

Despite shooting 26 percent from the 3-point line, he is still getting up just under five 3-point attempts per game. This can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. I lean towards seeing the positive in this figure. If Ulis is to get the call up to the NBA (Chicago Bulls) at some point, Chicago will benefit greatly from his aggressiveness in getting to the basket. But for him to stick with this team long-term, he will need to keep defenses honest by at least attempting to be a threat from deep.

Overall he is still committing too many turnovers (3 per game) but the advanced numbers suggest his making strides as a player capable of running an offense for at least limited stretches.


He is in the “Zach LaVine-role in the G League--has a sky-high 33 percent usage rate--on a struggling (1-4) team and so it is quite normal that his field goal percentage is not great, even more so since he is taking a bit of punishment at the rim with all the fouls he is absorbing.

A bigger sample size is needed to see if the remarkable (considering his size) free throw attempt rate is sustainable, but right now he is looking like he deserves a shot at spot minutes with the bench unit.

One of the (many) issues with the Bulls defense is the lack of turnovers they generate. Chicago is 23rd in the league in opponent's turnover rate, and Shaquille Harrison and Justin Holiday have been the only players to rate above average in steal percentage.

Ulis has been very good at generating turnovers, which helps mitigate the fact that he is undersized. His two steals per game would lead the Bulls. With the starters, Ulis would be counted on to knock away entry passes in the post if he was to get a bigger man matched up on him. But playing him in lineups with Lopez would benefit both of them since neither are proficient in switching defenses.

Through Wednesday afternoon, the Bulls best two-man pairings in terms of opponent’s effective field goal percentage were:

Lopez-Holiday: 43.9 percent

Lopez-Portis: 44 percent

Lopez-Hutchison: 44.1 percent

When you look further down the list, you notice that the Ryan Arcidiacono-Lopez pairing has held opponents to a lower percentage than Cam Payne-Lopez duo. This by no means shocking, and is a big part of why Fred Hoiberg has went to Arcidiacono over Payne as of late.

With Lopez and Wendell Carter Jr. (to a much greater degree) showing the ability to block shots at a high level, it would be great to see what Ulis can do at the point. Switching is a good defensive strategy but certain teams demand that your guards simply fight over screens to avoid confusion, as well as get hands in the passing lanes on the pick-and-roll early and often.

Ulis is small, but he, Harrison, Holiday, Arcidiacono and Hutchison could make up a solid point guard/swingman rotation that would provide a solid defensive component on a team that has made little strides on that end of the floor. The Bulls are going to be a bad defense until the team is 100 percent healthy and maybe even after that. And with that in mind, Ulis is at least worth a brief call-up on a team that appears to be placing too great of a ball handling demand on LaVine.