We are but two weeks away from the 2013 NBA Draft, but it doesn't feel like we know much more than we did after the lottery finalized.
It sure looks like the Washington Wizards like Georgetown small forward Otto Porter, that is if he isn't selected before the third pick. Beyond that, it's pretty much wide open. The Cleveland Cavaliers hold the No. 1 pick and their decision will set the table for the rest of the draft. Mocks are still widely tabbing Kentucky center Nerlens Noel to the Cavs at No. 1, but Cleveland hasn't given much of a hint which way they're leaning. Porter, Kansas' Ben McLemore, Indiana's Victor Oladipo and Maryland's Alex Len could all still be in-play for No. 1.
A lack of hints is nothing new for the notoriously sleuth-y front office of the Chicago Bulls. There hasn't even been much reported in terms of who the Bulls are bringing in for interviews and workouts before they make the No. 20 selection in the first round. But even in a draft largely considered weak, there should still be plenty of quality pro players available when the Bulls are on the clock. It's up to Gar and Pax to find the right one.
TheMoon's draft coverage was so tremendous that any anecdotal observations I have feel kind of unnecessary at this point, but I was fortunate enough to cover the draft combine and speak to a few of these dudes.
I can tell you Tony Mitchell (scouting report) was probably the most gracious player in the building, at least in the way he talked to the media. No one else shook my hand and asked what my name was. That's the type of thing that makes old sportswriters get all hot and bothered; I didn't think too much of it other than that he's probably been told teams have character concerns about him and coached to conduct interviews. Seemed like a nice, genuine guy to me, though. He was engaging to speak to, like most of the players there.
Mitchell is one of the players I would really like for the Bulls at pick No. 20, if only because he seems like one of the few who harbors the capacity to actually become a star. That's far from a guaranteed thing, but with pick No. 20, why not take a shot?
There is a legitimate argument against Mitchell to the Bulls, though. He's too short to play center, and the Bulls already have two power forwards in Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson firmly entrenched in the rotation. The consensus seems to be that Boozer will be amnestied following the upcoming season, but his spot on the roster will hopefully be filled by another power forward, Nikola Mirotic. With the Bulls two-deep at the four for the foreseeable future, does it really make sense to grab another power forward?
It's an interesting debate. The Bulls need a backup center and a backup wing player, but it's unlikely the players who occupy one of those roles (even if they do it well) will be on the court when the Bulls are in hard-fought playoff battles against the Pacers or Heat next season. The thought is that Mitchell could potentially be better than Gibson or Boozer or Mirotic (again, far from a sure thing), but even the most optimistic folk can't expect him to do that as a rookie. NBA development generally takes place between a player's second and fourth seasons. Given that the Bulls are a fairly young bunch, there's still reason to believe they have time for Mitchell to develop. If you haven't read Jonathan Tjarks' piece on Mitchell yet, I can't recommend it enough.
The other player I would really like to see in a Bulls uniform is Louisville center Gorgui Dieng (scouting report). I have maintained throughout the process that if Dieng lasts until No. 20 there are some pretty incompetent NBA GMs, but a quick survey of recent mock drafts still has him going after players like Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk and Duke's Mason Plumlee. I would even rank Dieng ahead of extra raw center prospects Steven Adams and Rudy Gobert, but that's just me.
The book on Dieng is that he looks safe, which isn't something commonly said about center prospects at the middle-to-end of the first round. He's a good rebounder, an alright shot blocker and has a steadily improving offensive game. He can pass and his face-up shot got more and more impressive as last season went on. He's not exactly Omer Asik in the middle, but from a scouting standpoint, there are lots of things to like about him.
Compared to the other center prospects like Plumlee, Olynynk and Indiana's Cody Zeller, Dieng is the only one that seems to have the strength necessary to play center in the NBA. The league as a whole has gone smaller, but the five is where Earth's biggest humans still roam. At 6'11, 245 lbs and with wide shoulders, Dieng has the frame to handle the pounding at pro center takes.
A wing is another real option for the Bulls, and will certainly become a glaring need if Marco Belinelli isn't retained. I mean, I suppose Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler can go 48 minutes every night, but....
Of the players who should be available, Allen Crabbe (scouting report) and Reggie Bullock (scouting report) seem like the two best. Crabbe is a crafty shooting guard who reminds me a bit of Rip Hamilton. We know the Bulls have used downscreen curls heavily the last three years with Hamilton and Kyle Korver, and Crabbe seems like a good candidate to plug into that specific set.
Bullock is more of a small forward, and sure seems a lot like Butler. He's big, he can defend, he can shoot threes, and his athleticism is thought to be solid but unspectacular. There will be a role for Bullock in the NBA, and you can certainly do worse than that with the No. 20 pick.
With all of this in mind. let's chart where these four guys are currently going in mock drafts. Kansas center Jeff Withey is another player I'd be fine with, though we'll leave him out of this exercise because he doesn't excite me as much.
|Site||NBADraft.net (6/9)||Chad Ford (6/4)
||Draft Express (6/11)
||SB Nation (6/10)
|Pick||Bulls, No. 20||Knicks, No. 24||Wolves, No. 26||Wolves, No. 26||Celtics, No. 16||Clippers, No. 25|
|Site||NBADraft.net (6/9)||Chad Ford (6/4)||NBA.com (6/12)||Draft Express (6/11)||SB Nation (6/10)||
|Pick||Knicks, No. 24||Nets, No. 22||Bulls, No. 20||Bulls, No. 20||Bulls, No. 20||Bulls, No. 20|
||Chad Ford (6/4)||NBA.com (6/12)||Draft Express (6/11)||SB Nation (6/10)||WalterFootball (6/12)|
|Pick||Clippers, No. 25||Clippers, No. 25||Nuggets, No. 27||Clippers, No. 25||Wolves, No. 26||Hawks, No. 18|
|Site||NBADraft.net (6/9)||Chad Ford (6/4)||NBA.com (6/12)||Draft Express (6/11)||SB Nation (6/10)||WalterFootball (6/12)|
|Pick||Spurs, No. 28||Pacers, No. 23||Not included||Knicks, No. 24||Hawks, No. 18||Nuggets, No. 27|
Also, please do check out all of SB Nation's 2013 NBA Draft scouting reports. They are all really wonderful.