An Inside Look at the Bulls’ Draft Prospects
**This post was written by both Adam Levy and Seth Birkan.
For some crazy reason, the NBA draft is one of my favorite events every year. Up until last year, I hadn’t missed a draft in at least ten years. It may or may not have to do with my ridiculous obsession with college basketball — I guess I enjoy seeing where some of these young players, whom I’ve watched and/or followed for four years or less, will begin their careers as professional basketball players. It’s also fun to assess which players I’d love to see in a Bulls uniform and which players would be great fits for our system. With the 2012 draft rapidly approaching, it’s time we, as Bulls fans, get to know some of the prospects that the front office should consider taking with the 29th pick.
Recently, the Bulls have done quite well with late draft picks, finding Taj Gibson (26th overall in 2010), Omer Asik (36th overall in 2008) and last year’s selection, Jimmy Butler (30th overall), who has yet to scratch the surface of his potential. This year, it seems that, given the loss of Derrick Rose and the possible losses of C.J. Watson and John Lucas, the Bulls will target either a point guard or shooting guard. There is a plethora of guards that should be available towards the end of the first round, so Seth Birkan and I decided to take a look at the Bulls’ back court options.
This year actually has a lot of parity beyond the top six or seven picks, so it’s difficult to project where exactly some of these players may get selected. The following group of players would be good fits for the Bulls, but they might not last until 29.
Marquis Teague – Point Guard, University of Kentucky
Draft Express – Best Case: Kyle Lowry; Worst Case: Will Bynum
NBADraft.net comparison: Steve Francis
Most people would say that Teague should have stayed in college because he had the chance of being a top ten pick next season, but like the rest of the Kentucky championship team, he elected to enter the draft. Teague was obviously overshadowed by his teammates, but he displayed some serious skill throughout the season. He is a great athlete with a great first step and has the highest ceiling of any point guard in this draft. The problem is that his scoring ability has yet to match up to his physical talents. Also, his decision-making, as well as his ability to read defenses, needs a lot of work, but with a few years of NBA coaching, he will be a quality point guard.
Kendall Marshall – Point Guard, University of North Carolina
Draft Express – Best Case: Andre Miller; Worst Case: Jose Calderon
NBADraft.net Comparison: Mark Jackson
The point guard crop in this draft is especially weak, which raises Marshall’s value and is likely the reason he will be taken well before the Bulls selection. Marshall is an exceptional passer with little to no offensive output. He has good size and put up gaudy assist numbers the past two seasons, demonstrating how effective of a passer he is. Ideally, he will be drafted by a team where he can come in and run the offense and set up his teammates without having to score much. Once Rose returns, Marshall would allow him to work off the ball and carry less of a burden running the offense. Unfortunately, he’s a potential lottery pick, so chances are that he won’t be around that late in the game.
Below is a list of players who have been all over the place on various mock draft boards, so it’s hard to predict whether they’ll be around at 29 or not. However, they can’t go unnoticed.
Jared Cunningham – Shooting Guard, Oregon State University
Draft Express – Best Case: Jeremy Lin; Worst Case: Jerome Dyson
NBADraft.net Comparison: Shannon Brown
One of the best athletes in college basketball the past few seasons (see here and here), Cunningham is sort of a tweener between a point guard and shooting guard. His ability to get to the line demonstrates his aggressive nature on offense (7+ free throw attempts/game the past two seasons), but he is very thin and needs to bulk up. He played some point guard while at Oregon State, which the Bulls would ask him to do. He has great length to become a good defender in the league, and he could potentially fit well with the Bulls. Cunningham was brought in for a workout by Chicago, so he is definitely on their list of players they are considering.
Doron Lamb – Shooting Guard, University of Kentucky
Draft Express – Best Case: Jason Terry; Worst Case: Roger Mason Jr.
NBADraft.net Comparison: Cuttino Mobley
Although we despise Kentucky and the guys who play there, the amount of NBA talent John Calipari breeds can’t be denied. Doron Lamb is another one of Calipari’s boys, but he, unlike many of his fellow Wildcats, actually played two years in Lexington instead of one. Lamb may be undersized at 6’4, but he’s an extremely efficient offensive player (50% FG this past season) who can shoot the lights out from the charity stripe (80% in college) and beyond the arc (49% this past season). He has a great knack for creating his own shot using the combination of a dirty cross-over and step-back. Lamb is always working hard without the ball and utilizes screens effectively, which is necessary for a guy who’s known to have a quick trigger in catch-and-shoot situations. At his size, though, it will be difficult for him to defend NBA two guards. But, given the incredible effort he gives on the defensive end, it wouldn’t shock us to see him develop into a very reliable all-around player at the next level.
Here are some players who, according to multiple mock draft boards and experts as of now, should be available when the Bulls are on the clock. Based on what we’ve read, it would be pretty surprising to see any of these guys come off the board before 29. But, things can certainly change by next week.
John Jenkins – Shooting Guard, University of Vanderbilt
Draft Express – Best Case: Anthony Morrow; Worst Case: Andy Rautins
NBADraft.net Comparison: Dell Curry/JJ Redick
Jenkins was generally considered the best three-point shooter in college basketball and is quite possibly the best pure shooter in this entire draft. He never shot lower than 40% from downtown in his three college seasons, and can hit from anywhere on the floor. The problem with Jenkins is he has limited athleticism as well as a limited skill set beyond his jump shooting. Jenkins would allow the Bulls to spread the floor more and give them another threat from behind the arc beyond Kyle Korver (or even replace him if they don’t bring him back). Jenkins, like Cunningham, was brought in for a workout, so he is a name to watch for with the Bulls selection. Both nbadraft.net and Chad Ford have the Bulls selecting him at 29, so it wouldn’t hurt to get familiar with the 6’4 sharpshooter.
Will Barton – Shooting Guard, University of Memphis
Draft Express – Best Case: Manny Harris; Worst Case: Rawle Marshall
NBADraft.net Comparison: Marquis Daniels
Coming off a fantastic sophomore campaign (averaged 18-8-3 with 1.1 threes, 1.4 steals and 51% FG), Barton is one of the longest players at his position in this draft. At 6’6 175, he’s in a similar boat to Jared Cunningham in that he needs to add strength. And a lot of it. He tends to avoid contact at the rim because of that lack of strength, so it is something that must be addressed as he progresses throughout his career. On the bright side, though, Barton is an extremely versatile and creative scorer and has a lethal mid-range jumper off the dribble. He possesses a great first step, so if he gets past you, it’s off to the races. His ability to guard positions 1-3 with his length is probably very appealing to the likes of Tom Thibodeau and is likely the reason for Chicago’s said interest in him. While he’s not quite the long-range shooter that several other prospects are, Barton feels he is “the best wing in the draft” and is fully aware of what he needs to improve on in order to be a successful NBA shooting guard. The potential is certainly there — we’ll see if the Bulls feel the same way come next week.
Tyshawn Taylor – Point Guard, Kansas University
Draft Express: Best Case: Jrue Holiday; Worst Case: Armon Johnson
NBADraft.net Comparison: Jerome Dyson
Both CBSsports.com’s Jeff Goodman and Draft Express have the Bulls selecting Taylor in their latest mock drafts, so clearly there’s something there. Taylor, who was every Jayhawk fan’s scapegoat throughout their early season woes and any woes thereafter, ended up having a phenomenal senior season as their starting point guard and helped lead them to the national championship game. He’s got great size for a point guard and loves to push the ball up court and attack the rim. Taylor’s vastly improved jump shot (over 38% from three this past season), confidence to create shots for himself off the dribble and great ability to defend the perimeter make him a very appealing prospect. Goodman feels that Taylor “can be the ideal backup to Derrick Rose. [He] brings speed, toughness and a point guard with experience to the table.” The problem is that many other experts feel he is not a true point guard because of his lack of steady leadership qualities and horrendous decision-making that he displayed many times throughout his senior season. Because of this, it’s hard to see the Bulls drafting him, but who really knows?
Tony Wroten Jr. – Point Guard/Shooting Guard, University of Washington
Draft Express – Best Case: Tyreke Evans; Worst Case: Marcus Banks
NBADraft.net Comparison: Iman Shumpert/Tyreke Evans
After one collegiate season in Washington, Wroten proved to be both spectacular and frustrating. As great as he is at attacking the defense and finishing around the rim, he is a pretty terrible three-point shooter, nailing only 16% of his threes last season. Regardless, the southpaw has the size (6’5-6’6 205) and physical gifts to become a great player in the league some day. Wroten is an outstanding rebounder at both ends of the floor because of the freakish athleticism he displays, and he has the potential to wreak havoc on the defensive end as well. He’s known to be a very unselfish player and tends to pick his spots for his offense by spending many of his possessions looking for teammates. Wroten seems to be a good fit for what the Bulls have in place, so we’d be satisfied if the Bulls were to select him on draft night.
Rarely ever do players drafted as late as 29th overall become great at the NBA level. Some defy the odds, some become solid role players and backups, but most either never make it or only last a little while before going overseas. Nevertheless, that shouldn’t stop fans from being optimistic about their draft pick(s) and hope that he can, in fact, defy the odds some day and become the player he was never expected to become. The draft is only nine days away. Time to get excited about what lies ahead.
Other back court prospects to keep in mind: Evan Fournier, Jeffery Taylor (more of a 3), Orlando Johnson, Tu Holloway, Scott Machado, J’Covan Brown
Posted on June 19, 2012, in Bulls and tagged Doron Lamb, Jared Cunningham, John Jenkins, Kendall Marshall, Marquis Teague, Tony Wroten Jr., Tyshawn Taylor, Will Barton. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.