First of all: it’s unclear whether the Bulls keep their pick or not. I think it’s unlikely since the pick has some value in possible sign & trade scenarios. But even if we assume the Bulls keep the pick, it’s not clear if they a) go after the best player available on the board, b) go after a player with the most upside, c) go after a positional need, or d) screw up the whole thing by picking a player who turns out as a bust…sorry. Whatever the Bulls plan, there is a chance that we keep this pick and add a player to our roster.
Let’s take a look at the players who are likely taken in the lottery. Referring to this Consensus Mock Draft posted on NBA.com, which features 12 different mocks all over the net, these players are likely to be out of reach for us:
Wall, Turner, Favors, Cousins, Johnson, Aminu, Monroe, Aldrich, Davis, Udoh, Patterson, Motiejunas, Whiteside. So although all mocks are kind of a gamble, let’s assume these players won’t be on the board at # 17.
Who’s left then? Depending on which mock draft you take a look, the most prominent names left and first-round-bound are:
Daniel Orton, Damion James, James Anderson, Gordon Hayward, Stanley Robinson, Luke Babbitt, Solomon Alabi, Larry Sanders, Paul George, Kevin Seraphin, Eric Bledsoe, Willie Warren, Avery Bradley.
If I was the GM, I would go with a mix of the above stated options (besides d), that is): a player that fits a positional need, can deliver right away (probably as a bench guy), but also has enough upside to emerge into a great player with nearly all-star potential.
I know, that’s what all GMs are looking for in every draft in the # 6 - # 30 range. But, when you look back on the last decade’s drafts, there are a few examples of players who were on the board at # 17 and even have emerged into an all-star (Rondo # 21 2006; Granger # 17 and Lee # 30, 2005; Nelson, # 20, 2004; West # 18, 2003; and so on…). And those drafts weren’t even those that are considered real deep drafts (like 2003).
This shows that it’s not impossible to find such first round gems, but very unlikely. Anyways, here are the players that I think fit the criteria:
- Larry Sanders: Here are some pure facts of what you get when you pick him: a 6’10.5’’ guy, with a nearly 7’6’’ wingspan, standing reach of 9’4’’ and 4.6 % body fat…okay, plus he weighs only 222 pounds. But you have to admit, the numbers are impressive, right? Add to this his speed, his ability to run the floor and a great timing for shot-blocking. He may be more suited to defend the PF position rather than the C position, but offensively he could play both positions. He might fit in quite well as a backup for Gibson and/or Noah if we can’t land a quality big man in free agency (possibly in a Joe Johnson scenario).
I see him ahead of other available big-men like Orton, Alabi, Seraphin simply because he is more polished than them and is not as raw as them.
You’re still not convinced? Take a look at what Mat Shelton and Michael Hagan at VCURamNation.com write in this Thunder blog entry.
- Luke Babbitt: Some have him ranked higher, even in the lottery. The way he climbs on the boards right now seems to draw comparisons to Joe Alexander, who failed to fulfil the expectations. But Babbitt is certainly a different player type than Alexander. He’s a versatile wing with great height (nearly 6’9’’ with shoes), great shooting numbers (50 % from the field, 42 % 3pt, 92 % FT). His high scoring and rebounding averages must be seen in relation to his high minutes played (37.1). But he has shown that he can carry a team and is a solid shooter. There remain questions about his defensive skills, but if we do sign a SF (I won’t call names on this one) and/or a PF and part with Deng, Babbitt can be a nice addition coming off the bench and delivering some sharp-shooting.
Other possible options if we go for a SF are George, Anderson or Hayward, but I see Babbitt as the more versatile and more solid player.
- Avery Bradley: This is not a draft that is stacked with quality guards. What separates Bradley from Bledsoe or Warren is his great defense. He is considered one of the best defenders off the ball in this draft, but the big question surrounding him is if he can play SG with his limited height, 6’3’’ with shoes. Another thing that may concern is his inability to get to the free throw line. His other strength is his outside shot, which already impressed observers in the Draft Combine. If we do not land an additional guard, which we desperately need, in free agency, Bradley might help coming off the bench.
If we go more for a PG, the one player that makes sense is Bledsoe. He hasn’t had that big of a role on a Kentucky squad that had John Wall running the show, with Bledsoe mostly playing off the ball. But you could clearly see that Bledsoe possesses the athleticism, speed and will to finish around the rim. He also has an okay three point range (38 %), but the problem with him is that he hasn’t shown he can handle the ball well and run an offense (which he wasn’t asked for, though). It remains to be seen if he can develop into a real PG or if he develops into a kind of Nate Robinson undersized off-guard.
Lemme hear what you think and give me some feedback. And excuse spelling mistakes if you find some, english is not my native language.