May 1, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson (right) talks with general manager Gar Forman (left) before game two in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE
The best player available will likely not conflict with the Bulls need for someone on the wing with length to defend more than one position and good scoring abilities -- shot creation on and/or off the ball and long range. An existing ability to defend with the length and long range is optimal, but difficult to find with the ability to create a shot with the ball at the NBA level; and players with that shot creation ability usually have sketchy ranges, raising the fears of inefficiency. The Bulls don't need more possession killers; they need finishers on both ends.
Quincy Miller and Jeffrey Taylor are still not likely to be available to the Bulls, but likely enough to be worthy of discussion. The depth of this draft de-values those who would be passed up to draft-and-stash Evan Fournier in Europe, so he gets added to the discussion.
The long-shot that all three, and Will Barton, somehow get picked before the Bulls can grab them may open up the shot at Festus Ezeli as a real option. He could be the player who gives the Bulls more wiggle room to pass up on retaining Omer Asik. But the wealth of shooting guards and small forwards who can play the two raise the value of trading down to pick up a sniper like John Jenkins or Doron Lamb, along with a backup point guard like Tyshawn Taylor or Scott Machado to replace C.J. Watson.
Barton's reportedly the only player the Bulls have worked out twice. Local writers are consistent with national writers in expecting Barton to not pass the Bulls. If he isn't on the board, most speculation leads to the Bulls selecting either of the two one-trick sharpshooters -- Jenkins or Lamb -- who are probably the two best shooters in the draft.
Barton is the favorite to be picked by the Bulls, but there's little belief they'd pass up on the more NBA-ready, less long but more athletic Taylor. In the SB Nation blogger draft, Miller and Fournier were taken, and I was saved from a tough decision on Ezeli. I elected to grab the underrated NBA-ready, long, athletic, hard-working, mid-major star scorer Orlando Johnson; but my decision was -- and has been for weeks -- very close between him, Barton, Taylor, and Jenkins.
The options led me to use deductive reasoning, eliminating Jenkins because of his height and lack of defensive skills. Defense can be taught to someone who can combine intelligence with a long frame, athleticism, or ferocity; Jenkins doesn't show to possess these qualities to make him into a good defender, let alone make him someone who can play more than one position at 6' 4".
Barton and Taylor are the better defenders and Taylor may have the best shot of the remaining three options. Barton's shot is bad enough that there's more wait-and-see with his all-around game, and his lack of athleticism makes me fearful that the strength he deeply needs to add may further compromise that.
Johnson's shot is closer to par with Taylor and their athleticism may be closer than people think. Taylor is the much better defender, but Taylor's 6' 7" wingspan makes him a different sort of exploitable. Johnson's 6' 11" wingspan at least gives Bulls helpers more time to rotate as Johnson's man will need wider angles to get around him.
Johnson's experience at the point and scoring abilities with such high efficiency at high volume wasn't just getting around a bum or two in the mid-majors. He faced double- and triple-teams on a nightly basis and turned into a de facto point forward at many points. Normally, this is a red flag, but his length and shooting ability should translate just as well as Taylor's range and open court play. But a decision between the two is still very close; Taylor is the safer pick, but Johnson has a higher ceiling.
All of that said, we should all be fairly shocked if Taylor is still around at #29 because his stock has risen to that mid-20s level to get drafted.
Of the players who can be available, I rank the Bulls' options as:
- Quincy Miller - scouted here by me; very long and athletic, but fears of his past ACL injury make him very polarizing, despite an NBA range and great high post game; can play with two forwards and a center, but struggles to position himself down low on both ends too much to play the four; everything the Bulls could want in a wing player if his size doesn't deceive people to expect more than he is.
- Evan Fournier - draft and stash option playing in France that's hard to pass on; great scorer, plays three positions, improving bad shooting at a young age.
- Orlando Johnson - scouted here by me; very long, great shooter, has experience at the one, two, and three; needs to improve defense, but has the IQ, work ethic, length, and athleticism to be very good with the right coaching; a bit of an enigma coming from a mid-major, but produced at very high levels as the focal point of the offense against double teams and aggressive help defense; willing passer, but with turnover problems against hyper-aggressive defenses that should ease up in the NBA.
- Jeffrey Taylor - excellent defender, great shooter, dangerous in transition, lacks length for the SF position, scouted here by BaB friend Christian D'Andrea at Anchor of Gold.
- Will Barton - scouted here by me; very good, aggressive rim attacker and defender; lacks athleticism and length, but very hard worker; has NBA length and defensive skills, but struggles to find good jump shots.
- John Jenkins - scouted here by me; maybe the best shooter in the draft, making him NBA-ready; lacks the length and strength to play any position other than SG; awesome off-ball shot creator; only has zone experience.
- Marquis Teague - if available, he'll be by far the best available, difficult to pass on; but if Lillard isn't there for the Warriors at #7 and Teague's available at #29, the Bulls' pick gets a ton of trade value as everyone else in the league would then know that he won't be available after GSW at #30; highly likely won't get passed on by the Grizzlies at #25
- Festus Ezeli - huge basket defender, will be a great shot blocker if he can stay healthy, amazing character and work ethic; but only if the Bulls know they can't afford Asik, as he'd be ready to fill that void for a few years better than free agent options; likely won't be available after the Heat at #27 or Thunder at #28.
- Kim English - big-time college producer, very similar to Taylor in length, yet not as strong and athletic, but a much better shooter; a much safer pick than the average early second round pick because of his elite shooting and ability to play two positions; easily a top five spot-up shooter in this draft, who'll fair well in the NBA.
- Tyshawn Taylor - scouted here by me; NBA-ready shooter who'd be a definite first rounder if he were two or three inches taller; maybe too short to play SG too much and way too turnover prone to trust at the point; very good defender, but will need to learn to guard threes as well to add the versatility to keep him as an asset to NBA rotations, instead of his decision-making turning him into a liability.
- Doron Lamb - arguably the second-best shooter in the draft; like Jenkins, would be a lottery pick if he were two inches taller.
- Tony Wroten - project with a ton of potential, versatile length to play two -- if not three -- positions, avery aggressive, but horrendous shooter; likely will get passed on by teams who want more NBA-ready players, as the seven of the eight picks right before the Bulls are held by teams that made the playoffs last season and there's plenty of NBA-ready talent available.