Bulls

How did Bulls' rivals fare in NBA Draft?

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How did Bulls' rivals fare in NBA Draft?

Whether youre in the camp that believes Bulls first-round draft pick Marquis Teague will make an instant impact and garner playing time as a backup point guard next season or view the former Kentucky point guard as a long-term value selection, theres no quibbling with the fact that he was arguably the best talent left on the board at No. 29 Thursday night.

Teague is unlikely to individually affect the Bulls fortunes very significantly next season, but how many rookies on upper-echelon, veteran-laden teams, typically selecting near the bottom of the first round, do?

The defending champion Heat basically took a mulligan, trading the rights to 27th overall pick Arnett Moultrie, a big man out of Mississippi State regarded as a lottery-level talent, to Philadelphia and ending up with lightly-regarded LSU center Justin Hamilton, who may be bound for Europe.

Meanwhile, Finals opponent Oklahoma City took free-falling Baylor forward Perry Jonesviewed as a top-five talent, his perceived lack of a high motor and reported knee issues prior to the draft, severely dropped his stocka big-time talent who will have little pressure on him to produce immediately and excellent role models in high-level young teammates like three-time league scoring champ Kevin Durant, All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, Sixth Man of the Year James Harden and league-leading shot-blocker Serge Ibaka.

The aforementioned 76ers, though facing some tough decisions in free agency with starting center Spencer Hawes and sixth man Lou Williams, the teams leading scorer, entering free agencynot to mention rookie revelation Lavoy Allen, as well as annual trade rumors surrounding All-Star swingman Andre Iguodalaadded some young firepower to an already young and athletic team with not only Moultrie, who could challenge for a starting role, but St. Johns small forward Maurice Harkless who still needs to add polish, strength and a semblance of an outside jumper, yet could also see plenty of action as a rookie.

Boston is another Eastern Conference playoff team that had a successful draft night, as the Celtics acquired productive Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger, whose bad back caused him to slip, and Syracuse center Fab Melo, giving them size and defense; team top exec Danny Ainges smart draft could have been part of the reason future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett reportedly opted to sign a three-year, 34-million deal instead of retiring, although the squad could lose sharpshooter Ray Allen in free agency.

As far as the Bulls Central Division rivals, Cleveland was bold in drafting Syracuse guard Dion Waiters fourth overall as a backcourt partner for reigning Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving, then trading for North Carolina center Tyler Zeller, while Detroit got a potential steal with Connecticuts Andre Drummond at No. 9, as the athletic center, the second-youngest player in the draft, could form a potent post duo with Greg Monroewho can move to his natural power-forward spotand while he could take years to fully realize his potential, should be able to help the Pistons as a rebounder and defensive presence.

On the other hand, Indiana made puzzling moves for a team on the verge of contending (perhaps due to the Pacers front-office shake-up), reaching for Duke big man Miles Plumlee, a middling college player if a superb athlete, with the likes of Jones and Moultrie still on the board, then trading up for UC-Santa Barbara shooting guard Orlando Johnson in the second round, while Milwaukee, which had traded down with Houston and acquired center Samuel Dalembert, added to a stable of young, defensive-minded big men by adding North Carolinas John Henson to a group that already includes Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders, though Kentucky shooting guard Doron Lamb in the second round could be a sleeper pick.

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.