The NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL established their respected drafts, so that the inferior teams have the best chance to select the top prospects, therefore improving the chance that they become a better team. Some teams just seem to be amongst the top every season, regardless of who they draft or how they finish the season.
With the exceptions of the 2005 NBA Draft when the Bulls had no picks and the recently passed 2009 draft when the Bulls first choice was 16th overall, Chicago have had a selection in the top ten in every draft starting from 1999. Since that year, the Bulls have had 15 first round selections over the stretch of eleven drafts, but these picks have not translated into wins. Take a look at the Bulls roster and you don’t see a team that have had 15 first round picks since ‘99. So I wonder, Where have they gone?
With Ben Gordon leaving for Detroit and the addition of rookies Taj Gibson and James Johnson, the Bulls have 6 of their 15 first round picks on their roster, assuming the rookies sign. The other four first-rounders are Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas, but there are little signs of the Bulls other picks. So again, where have they gone?
Warning: You may want to take notes.
The Bulls drafted power forward Elton Brand 1st overall in 1999, but traded him after two seasons. Brand averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in those two years, so the Bulls should have something to show for it, right? Well, Brand was traded to the Clippers for Brian Skinner and the draft rights of Tyson Chandler. The Bulls then traded Brian Skinner to the Raptors for Charles Oakley and a 2nd round pick that was used to draft Chris Duhon who signed with the Knicks before the start of last season. The Bulls traded Tyson Chandler to the Hornets for P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith. They immediately traded J.R. Smith to the Nuggets for Howard Eisley and two 2nd round picks which were used to draft James OnCurry and Aaron Gray. Both James OnCurry and P.J. Brown spent only one season with the Bulls. Chicago traded Elton Brand away and they only have reserve center Aaron Gray to show for it.
In the same ‘99 draft, the Bulls drafted Ron Artest 16th overall, but he’s no longer on the roster either. The Bulls traded Artest to the Pacers for Jalen Rose, Travis Best, Norman Richardson, and a 2nd round pick that was used to draft Lonny Baxter who’s out of the NBA. Richardson was waived, Best later signed with the Miami Heat and Rose was traded to the Raptors for Antonio Davis, Jerome Williams, and Chris Jeffries. Chris Jeffries was waived, Antonio Davis was a part of the Eddy Curry sign and trade and Jerome Williams was a part of the Jamal Crawford sign and trade that landed both players with the Knicks.
In the 2000 draft, the Bulls chose Marcus Fizer 4th overall, Chris Mihm 7th, and Dalibor Bagaric 24th. Mihm’s draft rights were traded on draft day for the rights of Jamal Crawford, Bagaric’s contract was bought out, and Fizer was selected by the Bobcats in their expansion draft. Crawford, along with Jerome Williams, was traded to the Knicks for Dikembe Mutombo, Othella Harrington, Frank Williams, and Cezary Trybanski. Williams and Trybanski were waived and Harrington later signed with the Bobcats after his time with the Bulls. Mutombo was traded to the Rockets for Adrian Griffin, Eric Piatkowski, and Mike Wilks; none of which are still on the roster.
This brings us to the ‘01 draft and the Bulls selection of Eddy Curry 4th overall. Curry was dealt in a sign and trade, along with Antonio Davis, to the Knicks for Michael Sweetney (released), Tim Thomas (waived), Jermaine Jackson (released) and a 1st round draft pick that was used to draft LaMarcus Aldridge 2nd overall in 2006. Aldridge’s draft rights were traded to Portland for the draft rights of Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa whose contract was later bought out due to lack of playing time.
The Bulls may have made the right move by drafting Jay Williams 2nd overall in 2002, but Williams’ motorcycle accident ended his career and set the Bulls back. In 2006, the Bulls used the second first round pick and drafted Rodney Carney before trading his rights to Philadelphia for the rights of Thabo Sefolosha. Sefolosha was later traded to the Thunder for a first round pick. That pick was used in the 2009 draft to select Taj Gibson 26th overall.
Recapping, the Bulls have Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson, James Johnson, and Aaron Gray as a result of their first round picks and trades that relate to them since 1999. Maybe this have been their plan all along and the potential Carlos Boozer deal will complete the Bulls’ eleven year plan to return to the NBA Finals, or they have just been guessing as they go along.