We all know about the Bulls miraculous miracle (lol) that got us the best point guard on the planet. The Bulls had 1.7% chance to win that draft lottery, and they won it. Derrick Rose became a Chicago Bull. It's the reason the team is the way it is now. But I was thinking about how it not only effected us, but the entire NBA in a very big way.
Going into that season, the Bulls were picked by Lindy's, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN to go to the NBA Finals. Fresh off a sweep of the defending Champion Miami Heat, they had a defensive juggernaut center and what looked to be a slew of fringe/gonna-be-all-star type players on the roster in Hinrich/Deng/Gordon/Thomas/Noah/Nocioni. Coach Scott Skiles talked about how they finally wouldn't have the slow start, and this was the year they were for real. And there was every reason to believe it. But for one reason or another, it just didnt happen. Wallace's regression happened more rapidly than anyone expected, Noah was extremely raw, and Gordon/Deng/Hinrich/Nocioni all had the worst years of their career. Maybe they were too young to handle the Kobe trade rumors in the offseason, maybe Gordon's expiring contract was a distraction. Who knows. But the Bulls ended up trading Ben Wallace and missed the Playoffs for the first time in four seasons. Turns out it was one of the biggest blessings in the history of sports. With 1.7% chance, the Bulls got one of the best players in the world.
What if they didn't though? If the Bulls didn't get Rose, they likely would have drafted 9th (where they were projected). DJ Augustin was selected in this spot. In 2008-2009, the Bulls did see a resurgence in many of their players. Deng, Gordon, at times Hinrich, and in the playoffs Noah all returned to form. John Salmons and Brad Miller joined the team via trade, and they had a decent group of young players. Say best-case-non-Rose-scenario took place. The Bulls would have returned to the playoffs after one off year, probably won between 47 and 51 games per year, and probably be a consistent 2nd round out. They likely wouldn't have been a player in the Summer of 2012, because they wouldn't have been a near contender and they wouldnt have had a star.
And if the Bulls didn't get that pick, it would have likely belonged to the Miami Heat. Think of how the NBA landscape would look right now. The Heat would have built a team around Rose and Wade, and would have probably not been trying to build a superteam featuring James and Bosh because they simply wouldn't have been able to have four max or near max contracts on the books.
So how did that 1.7% pingpong ball shape the NBA? Here are some not so unlikely possibilities:
- The Heat likely build a team around Rose and Wade, and have a similar record the the one they currently own. Rose doesn't quite develop to MVP level (at least not yet) as he already has a star on his team who dominates the ball and takes over in the fourth.
Carlos Boozer probably doesn't sign with the Bulls (they would most likely have Tyrus as a starting PF), and could be with what was reported to be his 2nd choice: the Nets. If the Nets still make the trade for Williams, they have taken the two best players on the Utah Jazz. Perhaps Korver and Brewer follow? Or perhaps they all stay home in Utah?
- The Bulls would probably be the Atlanta Hawks, in 2nd-round-out basketball hell. Always good enough to get there, but not quite able to pass the true contenders.
- Chris Bosh is a Raptor/Knick/Net/Clipper/Cavalier. He could have landed anywhere.
LeBron James likely either re-signs with the Cavaliers, keeping them among the east's elite, or signing with Amare in New York. If LeBron and Amare both signed in New York, then they may have formed their own big three by trading for (or signing) Carmelo. Or, Carmelo could still be in Denver...or maybe even with the Bulls. If New York wasn't an option, he very well could have come to the Bulls in exchange for Deng/Nocioni/Gordon/etc.
- Michael Beasley is probably still a Timberwolf. They picked right after Miami in the draft that year.
- Ben Gordon would probably not be a Piston. It seems that if the Bulls didn't have Rose, it's possibly Gordon would have been re-signed. He might have still been with the Bulls now, or he may have been traded in a package for an all-star like Carmelo.
- Kirk Hinrich would almost definitely still be a Bull.
- The Bulls may not have been players in the summer of 2010 free agent market. There is a very good chance that Hinrich/Deng/Gordon/Noah/Nocioni/Thomas would have all (or most of them) been extended and built around as the core of the team. There would have been very little money to try to sign a max contract free agent.
- The LA Clippers may have been successful in 2010 free agency. With the Bulls probably out of the picture, it's not unthinkable that the Clippers sign Bosh/Boozer/Amare to build a formidable starting front court with Griffin.
- Maybe some of Miami's Big 3 are in Chicago. Maybe the Bulls don't get stuck in basketball hell. Maybe they still decide to shed salary like crazy. And if the Heat trio did start talking about the possibility of playing together years ago, it's not impossible they would have chosen the Bulls (who could still have some good players in house) if Chicago could afford them. Even if Wade (who would be playing with Rose in South Beach) didn't bolt, it's not at all farfetched to think that James and Bosh, and perhaps a third player (Joe Johnson?) wouldn't have chosen to come here.
- Tom Thibodeau is probably the coach of the New Orleans Hornets. If the Bulls stuck with their former core, there is a good chance that Skiles may still be around (or one of his assistants like Jim Boylan or Pete Myers). Even if he isn't, New Orleans offered Thibs their head job before the Bulls did. Would he have held out for the Chicago job if Derrick Rose and co weren't here?
- Derrick Rose possibly never becomes the player he is becoming. Maybe the Miami Heat still drain salary like crazy, and still sign their big three. And they also have Rose. Could he have possibly become the star he is if he was playing the role of Mario Chalmers or Mike Bibby?
There are plenty of other scenarios as well that could have resulted from the Bulls not being so lucky on that day. The Bulls had already been one of the most fortunate teams in sports history by having the greatest ever fall to them at 3rd in the draft, and then having Houston trade us another hall of famer for Olden Polynice. They caught lightening in a bottle a third time when they were given the right to draft Derrick Rose. Who knows where the Bulls, as well as the entire NBA would be if 98.3% chance had prevailed?