The Chicago Bulls Must Follow Jimmy Butler Model in NBA Draft
Big things lay ahead for the Chicago Bulls as they prepare for their biggest championship push to date in the 2013-2014 season. Perhaps their most important stretch of the off-season will center on the NBA draft. While they don’t need to hit a home run to become contenders, it is important they don’t sit back and settle for a second rate bench man or project player. Their job must be to follow the same model they set with Jimmy Butler two years ago.
Derrick Rose return means Nate Robinson is gone
Before pinpointing exactly what the Bulls need to do in the draft, it is best to identify what they are losing and getting back. Everyone knows the long awaited return of star point guard Derrick Rose will happen next season, despite high hopes he might come back early for the playoffs. While he won’t reach superstar level for awhile, his return will bring instant help for the sluggish Bulls offense. Joining him back will be Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich who missed the Miami Heat playoff series with injuries. That makes the starting lineup largely set.
On the other hand their bench figures to undergo some serious losses in free agency. Rip Hamilton has likely played his last season as a Bull. Three-point shooter Marco Belinelli may return but not at the price Chicago is willing to pay. That leaves Nate Robinson who overcame many stigmas about his career and was the main cog in the Bulls’ successful playoff run, including their stunning comeback in Game 4 against the Brooklyn Nets. Keeping him on the bench behind Rose would be a huge boost to their offense. Sadly his terrific performance almost certainly has garnered interest from other teams. Unless he is willing to return at the same price he played for this year, then Robinson is not coming back.
Butler and Marquis Teague exhibit the value of good athletes
Thankfully Chicago has done a very good job preparing for these losses. As Robinson prepares to exit, fellow bench man Marquis Teague will replace him going into his second year. The Kentucky product had an up and down season but shown glimpses of why the Bulls took him in the first round a year ago. He, like Butler, is a representation of their draft strategy. While not polished stars, both have terrific athletic potential. They run and move well, play defense and work hard. Butler came on late in the year when Deng got hurt and put up what some might consider All-Star worthy games. He defended the best players in basketball like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and became more and more adept in his jump shot. Teague also played a big part in the playoffs with his disciplined approach and calm running of the offense. With Chicago not picking in the lottery again they must make sure to continue this run of solid picks if they want to realize their title hopes.
Tom Thibodeau needs shooters from Gar Forman
What should the Bulls prioritize in the draft?
With that in mind, how will they approach the 2013 draft? Given how Butler, Deng, Teague and Taj Gibson should handle defensive duties, head coach Tom Thibodeau must work to replace what the team will lose with Robinson and Belinelli. They need shooters. That is the top priority for GM Gar Forman and vice president John Paxson. The key is can they find a shooter with similar athletic properties that fill the requirements met by Butler and Teague?
One name that should hover around where the Bulls pick at #20 in the first round is Reggie Bullock. Scouts see him as long, athletic, and versatile who can handle the ball. He rates highly as a scorer with a jump shot that ranges out to the three-point line. Best of all he comes from a proven program at North Carolina. Another name they could eye is Allen Crabbe. The California shooting guard isn’t a top notch athlete but he did score well at the scouting combine. At 6’6” he is a premier scorer with a terrific jump shot. He also can rebound surprisingly well and does his job on the defensive end.
If either of these players sat on the board the Bulls wouldn’t regret taking them. Defense is not the concern for them anymore. This team needs more balls in the hoop and finding young guys who can do that could mean the difference in the championship chase next season.