Four players the Bulls should target in the NBA Draft


Four players the Bulls should target in the NBA Draft

With the draft two days away, Scott Phillips and Mark Strotman took a look at four players the Bulls could realistically target at No. 22.

For a team that won 50 games and leading their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Cavaliers 2-1, Fred Hoiberg and the Bulls front office has work to do on patching up a couple of holes within the Bulls roster. Depth at the center and point guard position, potentially some additional defensive help for Jimmy Butler on the wing or a replacement for Joakim Noah and/or Pau Gasol in the next few years.

Here's a look at who could help shore up some of the Bulls' current deficiencies. For further analysis see what Mark and Scott had to say in the video above.

Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia: The 6-foot-6 junior was on pace to be named the ACC Player of the Year before a wrist injury in February sidelined him for more than a month. But in the 26 games Anderson competed in he proved why he's worthy of a first round selection on Thursday. Playing for the slow-tempo Cavaliers he averaged 12.2 points on 46.6 percent shooting, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in nearly 28 minutes per game.

The most important numbers that jump out for NBA teams will be that he shot better than 45 percent from beyond the arc - best in the ACC - and was arguably the best defender on the country's second most efficient defense. He's the perfect "3 and D" wing player who can stretch the floor and also give Jimmy Butler help on defense, an area where Tony Snell hasn't consistently contributed through two seasons. The wrist injury and "old" age (21) may allow Anderson to drop to the Bulls, and they'd be wise to consider him if he's there.

[BULLS: Mark Schanowski's NBA mock draft]

Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville: Pick any NBA system and you've got the perfect fit for Harrell. All the knocks on the Louisville bulldozer - he's undersized, doesn't have a consistent jumper - are washed away the second he steps on the court. It's easy to see why his Cardinals won the national championship in 2014 and advanced to the Final Four this past season. A classic high-energy player who has the frame of a linebacker, Harrell was never outworked and combined that with his athleticism to become one of the best forwards in college basketball.

He'll need to become more versatile on the offensive end, but a team drafting Harrell knows it's getting a multiple-effort defender, excellent rebounder and great locker room personality. He's drawn comparisons to Kenneth Faried, and they're not far off. Assuming Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic are the Bulls' future inside, adding a defensive-minded Harrell would give Hoiberg plenty of balance on the interior. He doesn't fill a need per se, but all 30 teams can use a player like him.

Robert Upshaw, C, Washington: During his tenure at Iowa State, Freg Hoiberg became synonymous with bringing in transfers who had failed for one reason or another at their previous school. Fresh starts were the norm in Ames, and it's exactly what Upshaw is looking for at the next level. Kicked off two different programs (Fresno State and Washington) for reported failed drug tests, Upshaw has the talent of a lottery pick and the stock of a borderline first-rounder.

Before he left the Huskies this past season he was leading the nation in blocks per game, proving he's one of the most talented defensive centers in the class. From an on-court perspective he's exactly what the Bulls need. Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah put up solid block numbers but weren't all that great defending the rim, and there's no center behind them to log second unit minutes. The void left by Omer Asik is still glaring on the bench, and Upshaw could fill it. The question is whether or not Hoiberg wants to take on such a big risk in his first season in the NBA. For what it's worth, having veteran presences in Gasol, Noah and Derrick Rose to guide him could go a long way.

[NBA DRAFT: Get ready with more than 60 player profiles]

Tyus Jones, PG, DukeGone are Tom Thibodeau's methodical offensive sets, and they've been replaced with a Fred Hoiberg offense system that thrives on pushing the tempo and finding shots early in the shot clock. That could make Duke freshman point guard Tyus Jones a fit at No. 22. The 2015 NCAA Tournament's MOP thrived in transition all year, showed the ability to knock down 3-pointers and led the Duke offense to a national title while learning to play with lottery selections Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow.

The Bulls went through a carousel of backup point guards under Tom Thibodeau - C.J. Watson, Nate Robinson, Marquis Teague, D.J. Augustin, Aaron Brooks - and it would be nice if they could finally find a foundation for that second unit. Jones has a knack for for running offenses - different from the aforementioned shot-happy Bulls point guards of the past - which should help the group as a whole. Learning under Rose has its perks, and Jones simply finds a way to win everywhere he goes. He'd be tough to pass up in the first round.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Getting to know the Bulls Outsiders team; bold predictions for this season

NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls Talk Podcast: Getting to know the Bulls Outsiders team; bold predictions for this season

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, the Bulls Outsiders team of Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine join Kevin Anderson to talk about the series premier of ‘Bulls Outsiders’ Thursday night. Hear about how the show came together and what they are hoping to bring to the Bulls fanbase this season. They’ll also share their bold predictions for the season including two potential end-of-season award winners from this roster.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

We all know what Zach LaVine is capable of doing on the offensive side of things. But what about his defense?

It's no secret that LaVine has had his fair share of struggles on defense, but Kris Dunn thinks highly of his 23-year-old teammate and what his potential is at the other end.

"On the defensive end I just told him, 'You're as fast as me. You're more athletic than me. There's no way you shouldn't be a good defender in this league. You could be one of those guys who could be dynamic in the passing lanes because you're so athletic and fast.'" Dunn said of LaVine. "And personally, I like to score. If you get in a passing lane, that's a dunk for yourself and because you've got so much bounce that's when you get the crowd on their feet — maybe do a windmill, a 360, something.

"But I think he's been going a good job on the defensive end. It's not going to be easy. We all got to learn and I think we're all trying."

Improving his defense would obviously be a big step forward for LaVine (and the Bulls), and he knows it. 

“I think I had a lot better focus on the defensive end,” LaVine said when assessing his preseason. “I had some mistakes too, but I wanted to go out there and just really hone in on being more focused down there. I felt like I did OK with that. Still some areas I want to get better at, definitely off-the-ball I think I did a lot better than I had before.’’

LaVine and the Bulls travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers on Thursday night in their season opener. You can watch Bulls Pre- and Postgame Live on NBC Sports Chicago before and after the game for highlights and analysis.