The top 10 draft picks in Bulls franchise history
10. Joakim Noah - No. 9 in 2007 first round; Tom Boerwinkle - No. 4 in 1968 first round
A tie for the final spot between two big men whose only similarity is their top-10 selection status. Boerwinkle was a bruiser in a bruising age, backstopping those oh-so-close, Dick Motta-coached teams from the 1970s with his defense and rebounding.
Noah may have looked unconventional at times, but he won Defensive Player of the Year and finished fourth in MVP voting in 2013-14 because of his mobility and skill. His passion and intensity made him the emotional epicenter of championship-contending teams.
9. Taj Gibson - No. 26 in 2009 first round
Taking advantage of intel from USC coach Tim Floyd, Forman and John Paxson fell in love with the versatility and team-first attitude of Gibson, who would become an organizational fixture. Gibson never bowled anyone over with statistics. But his toughness and ability to consistently contribute at both ends defined his close to eight seasons in Chicago.
8. Horace Grant - No. 10 in 1987 first round
Even Krause would later admit his fascination with North Carolina power forward Joe Wolf, who went 13th overall to the Clippers in '87. Though Wolf played close to 600 NBA games, he had nowhere near the impact that Grant did. Grant, beloved by former coach Doug Collins, was the perfect piece for assistant coach Johnny Bach’s “Doberman” defense. His trademark goggles and end-to-end agility in the Bulls’ occasional press are enduring memories, as are the three titles he helped win.
7. Artis Gilmore - No. 117 overall in 1971 seventh round
Pat Williams used this pick even though everyone knew a bidding war for the Jacksonville big man’s skills would play out. The American Basketball Association’s Kentucky Colonels won out, enjoying Gilmore’s sublime mix of scoring and shotblocking for five seasons. The Bulls then acquired him in August 1976 in the dispersal draft when the ABA folded.
6. Toni Kukoc - No. 29 overall in 1990 second round
Krause and international scout Ivica Dukan followed this Croatian star and drafted him despite knowing he may remain in Europe for a while. Kukoc also played for Benetton Treviso in Italy before joining the Bulls in 1993 at age 24. His mix of length, passing and scoring proved critical in the Bulls’ second three-peat from 1996-98, and he won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award in 1996.
5. Jimmy Butler - No. 30 in 2011 first round
Forman and former executive Matt Lloyd — now with the Magic — worked behind the scenes to track this Marquette product, who took the junior college route out of Tomball, Texas, after not receiving any Division I scholarship offers. Butler didn’t play much his rookie season, which began after an NBA lockout. But his work ethic and two-way talent couldn’t be denied, as he eventually won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award and signed a rookie maximum extension with Chicago in 2015.
4. Jerry Sloan - Expansion draft
Krause, then a Washington Bullets scout, worked to get the tough Evansville product to that franchise for the 1965-66 season. Then, the Bulls snagged him for their inaugural season in the expansion draft. Sloan’s scoring average jumped from 5.7 to 17.4 points from his first to his second season. But his take-no-prisoners defensive approach is where he made his name and became synonymous with the blue-collar nature of the city. He later coached the Bulls and enjoyed a Hall of Fame coaching run with the Utah Jazz.
3. Derrick Rose - No. 1 in 2008 first round
Remember the debate leading up to this selection between Rose and Kansas State forward Michael Beasley? Even after overcoming ridiculous 1.7 percent odds to win the draft lottery, John Paxson and Forman had to get the pick right. They did, selecting the hometown product whose combination of strength and speed stretched the limits of the point guard position. Knee injuries betrayed a career that was on a Hall of Fame trajectory, especially when Rose won Rookie of the Year, earned an All-Star selection and became the youngest most valuable player in NBA history in his first three seasons.
2. Scottie Pippen - Trade in 1987
Krause worked the phones for days to engineer the deal in which he acquired his most-prized scouting discovery from tiny Central Arkansas. The Bulls sent the draft rights to Virginia’s Olden Polynice, whom they selected at No. 8, to Seattle for Pippen, who was drafted fifth overall. Krause sent SuperSonics counterpart Bob Whitsitt, a second-round pick and the option to swap first-round picks in one of the following two drafts, as well. Polynice wasn’t a bust; he logged 1,058 games for five teams. But he wasn’t a Hall of Famer.
1. Michael Jordan - No. 3 in 1984 first round
Thanks to Stu Inman (or perhaps more accurately, Clyde Drexler), general manager Rod Thorn selected the North Carolina product who led the Bulls to six championships and became one of the most recognizable athletes in world history. Inman, the Trail Blazers head of basketball operations at the time, used the No. 2 pick on oft-injured center Sam Bowie after the Rockets selected future Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon No. 1. Perhaps not equally as unfortunate — but close — Thorn didn’t get to enjoy the fruits of his selection. Jerry Reinsdorf led a group of partners to purchase the team in 1985 and hired Krause to replace Thorn.