We're Talking Draft! Wait, what? Why?

Seriously, why?

I love this team. I really do. I think it's exciting to see them play so friggin' tough every day. While I might prefer to see offensive efficiency, fluidity and execution in an entertainment sort of way, in the long run, winning games in any manner is good entertainment.

However, while the Bulls may be the 2nd-best team in the NBA, I have a firm belief that being "good" (even pretty good), is not an excuse to not try and get better. The trade deadline has passed with a minor but helpful move, and the Bulls made their waiver wire signing.

There's a lot to be excited for this season. The Bulls have a legitimate chance to win the NBA Championship, even if they aren't the favorites.* But how, after this season, do the Bulls become the favorites?

*are people going to "believe" Hollinger's rankings now that they say the Bulls have the 2nd-best chance of winning it all--higher than most "traditional" writers, or is he still an idiot?

My first and highest preference is for the Bulls to trade whatever tradeable assets they have and acquire an ideal, established SG like Andre Iguodala or Kevin Martin. My second choice is to get a less-studly or less-proven person that's already in the NBA, e.g. J.R. Smith, Courtney Lee, Brandon Rush or Wilson Chandler (there's a lot of "potential" guys). But those two things come with two main caveats: Reinsdorf's willing to spend now (for Iggy or Martin or Smith or Chandler and the like) or later (for Lee, Rush, others) and b) the other team's willingness to make the trade.

So that brings me to the 2011 NBA draft. (This will happen as the current CBA doesn't run out until June 30, 2011.) Going the draft route does a couple of things: it allows "this" team to gel for another year and b) will keep the payroll more controllable, the SG not needing a raise until (likely) 4-5 years from now.

With the Bulls addition of the Miami1st-round pick in the James Johnson trade (another reason to root against the Heat, if you didn't have enough already), the Bulls have two strategies. Draft for quantity and hope one or two pan out into legitimate role players. Or trade the farm to get into the lottery or Top 10.

The Bulls most-tradeable assets to a team in the lottery (hence, not good, rebuilding, likely want cheap contracts) are: Taj Gibson, all draft picks this year, next year's first round pick* and the Charlotte Bobcats' pick. (*They couldn't trade their own first both this year and next.)

My preference is that the Bulls trade away their two first-round picks this year, the Bobcats' pick and Taj Gibson for a pick anywhere in the lottery. However, I would be fine them saving all the picks and using them this year. I would NOT be cool with Reinsdorf selling off the picks for $3 million.

If the Bulls move into the lottery, I would like them to go after:

Harrison Barnes:
A player struggling mightily in the early part of the year causing his stock to drop from a pretty consensus No. 1 pick to going as low as 11th in some mock drafts. He's an athletic player (although not on the Derrick Rose, Tyrus Thomas level) that has a strong all-around game. His shooting was bad to start the year, but it's been better lately. I don't think he's as good as everyone though to start the year (and just playing poorly), but I do think he's a legitimate ball-handler and defender that will eventually learn to shoot well from the outside.

Jordan Hamilton
I'm not sold on Hamilton as a defender, but I think he is a very good shooter. In this draft, at this position, I'm taking offense over defense right now. As much as I love Ronnie Brewer, I don't think the No. 1 defense in the league is hinging on he and Keith Bogans. Hamilton still has a lot of work to do to be a good NBA player (and especially a starter), but keeping Watson, Brewer and Korver around for another 2 years could bridge that gap.

Alec Burks
I think Burks is clearly the better player over Hamilton. He is a better all-around offensive player, a better defender and probably still has more potential. He flashes effort and positioning on defense. He can handle the ball, pass it and drive to the hoop (although he struggles finishing). But he has two big draw backs as a Bull: Shooting (he doesn't take many threes and doesn't make many that when he does) and playing off the ball (he's the primary guy at Colorado).  Burks is often compared to Evan Turner because of his strengths and weaknesses. We've seen how that's gone. If, however, the Bulls feel he can learn to shoot and play off the ball, he could become a 3-pt version of Rip Hamilton, virtually a perfect fit.

Those are the only three guys I see the Bulls trading up for, essentially because they are the only ones that I see having a high-ish probability of a being a starter. While in a vacuum, the Bulls would be giving up a lot (two firsts and a valuable role player) to get some obviously flawed candidates, I think that, in a specific context, it's worth it. Taj Gibson is replaceable, and the two firsts are going to be low or far in the future.

If the Bulls decide to stay where they are, I like (using two picks):

Nolan Smith PG/SG
Some compare him to CJ Watson. I think he's more Kirk Hinrich. Either is fine by me.

Kyle Singler SF
I said it. Two Dukies. Yeah, I hate myself, too.

Markieff Morris PF
A very good defender with potential to be awesome. Improving offensive potential with with a chance to be good. (He would allow the Bulls to trade Taj Gibson a year from now. But he might not last to 26-28 range).

JaJuan Johnson PF
Pure potential pick. Could really suck and never be anything in the NBA. But could end up defending and rebounding well enough with his offensive abilities actually translating to the next level. It doesn't seem like he could ever replace Boozer, but then, Boozer was a 2nd-round pick, too. It would be interesting if, four years from now, the Bulls could make the decision to hand the PF spot over to him and letting Boozer go.

There isn't a lot of PG/SG or SG/SF projected to go late in the first round. There are few in the middle (mentioned above, among others), and then a ton in the second round that could be a fit for the Bulls as back-ups: David Lighty, Malcolm Lee, Scotty Hopson, Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown, Marshon Brooks, Demetri McCamey, E'Twaun Moore, LaceDarius Dunn.

While giving up two firsts and Taj Gibson might be considered a lot for the three guys mentioned above, I think they have legit starting SG potential (even if small), especially on this team, and finding a back-up PF and back-up PG/SG, either in the draft, undrafted rookies, or in free agency, wouldn't be too much of an issue.

I think the last thing any of us should want, though, is for the team, even a "young" one coming off a very good season, to stand pat. The biggest reason is stated above: being good shouldn't be an excuse to not get better. The second reason, though, is almost as important: this team won't be the same in 2-3 years. Bogans, Watson, Korver and Brewer (and even Gibson???) are all likely to be gone in a few, and Boozer won't be far behind them. They will be really good for the next couple of years, but to continue to do that into Rose's prime, they need to start the "re-building" process now so that it can be in full swing when these other guys leave.

What say you? (aside from my ramblings, feel free to make this a general draft thread, too, if you'd like)

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