With the NBA Lottery in the books and the first round order set, mock drafts are beginning to pour in. Rotoworld's Ed Issacson took his first stab, and his pick for the Bulls may surprise you. Here's what he had to say about what Gar Forman and John Paxson may do at No. 22:
Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin – With the uncertainty around the head coaching position for the Bulls still an issue, it is tough to determine what direction they want to go with this pick, but Dekker is easily the best player left at this point, and he could certainly help them on both ends of the floor. At 6’9”, Dekker has very good size for the small forward position, and though he played in a very structured offense at Wisconsin, he has the skill and athleticism to blossom into a versatile offensive threat on the wing. The Bulls might want to add more perimeter shooting here, or a big man to eventually replace Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah; you really can’t go wrong adding a talent like Dekker.
Getting a talent such as Dekker this late in the first round indeed would be a steal. The Badgers sharpshooter averaged 13.9 points on 53 percent shooting, including 33 percent from beyond the arc, in 31 minutes per game for Bo Ryan's championship runner-up group. He grew in his three years at Wisconsin and would be able to blossom in a less structured, more free-flowing offense than the one he played in with the Badgers. He's also much more than a shooter, showing in his final two seasons the ability to slash to the basket, rebound well for his small forward position and take care of the ball.
[ROTOWORLD: Draft comparisons -- 2015 SFs]
But it also wouldn't address much of a need for the Bulls. Mike Dunleavy will be a free agent on July 1, though there's a chance he returns this offseason. Behind Dunleavy, however, the Bulls have spent their last two first-round picks on outside shooters. Though Tony Snell and Doug McDermott haven't been world beaters in their short stints with the Bulls, it's far too early to tell what the future holds for each. Adding Dekker almost certainly would push one of Snell or McDermott out of the rotation next season.
Also, the Bulls have significant needs at both backup point guard and center. Still, a talent with the kind of upside Dekker has ultimately would be hard to pass up.
The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.
It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.
The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.
James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.
Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.
It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.
That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.
Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.
"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"
Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.
"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"
Watch the video above to see the interaction.
Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.