Much of the attention in the upcoming NBA Draft will be based around the hopes placed on Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns, with the chances for the Bulls to find a significant contributor less likely than the needy teams at the top of the board.
And at 22, while recent history suggests the Bulls won’t find a gem at that particular spot, there will be gems all around waiting to be selected —making it a dangerous proposition when revisionist history starts coming into play a few years from now.
After all, who would’ve thought the Bulls would’ve selected this year’s runner-up for Rookie of the Year at the 23rd spot, or a probable-max player in waiting with the last pick of the first round or a frontcourt mainstay at the 26th spot?
Here’s looking at you, Nikola Mirotic, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, respectively, as the Bulls have done a great job scouting through the years and finding players to fit into their long-held culture.
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Many scouts and executives believe the draft’s depth is between the mid-first round and late first round, right where the Bulls are slated to pick unless something changes between now and then.
Despite the constant controversy surrounding the Bulls’ coaching situation, workouts are being held at the Advocate Center daily in preparation for the draft, business as usual — with the Bulls looking to disassociate themselves from the underwhelming history of players selected 22nd.
In the last 10 years, only Kenneth Faried has played well above his head being drafted at that spot, with some real duds and a handful of players who are contributors if not household names.
Jarrett Jack (2005) has been valuable, while Jared Dudley (2007) and Courtney Lee (2008) have been consistent pieces through their careers. Swingman Wilson Chandler and guard Arron Afflalo came not too far after Dudley, while Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City) and Nic Batum (Portland) went 24th and 25th after Lee.
Mason Plumlee (2013) is certainly starting to make a name for himself with the Brooklyn Nets.
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But make no mistake, there are some guys that make you go, “Wow, what happened to him?” or “Who?” Some real head-scratchers in hindsight.
Guard Elliot Williams (2010) has barely played 100 games, getting two 10-day contracts with the New Orleans Pelicans, a part of an empty back end of Round 1 that year, while Eric Bledsoe and Avery Bradley went 18th and 19th, respectively.
Victor Claver (2009) has played 80 games, while the Bulls found Gibson four picks later and Hawks swingman DeMarre Carroll went one pick after Gibson.
Marcus Williams (2006) was out of the league after four years, and the Connecticut point guard was taken two spots before All Star Kyle Lowry. Jordan Adams (2014) has played 30 games for Memphis this season, which is plenty more than the time Fab Melo (2012) received during his ill-fated stint.
Melo played in six games before signing with a team in Brazil last summer.
In other words, with the vast outcomes and seemingly hidden talent around the busts, due diligence must be exercised by the Bulls before making a selection in a few weeks.