Part two of my analysis of the Bulls' roster. For my review of the guards go here:
Luol Deng is set to be the Bulls small forward for the next 10 years, which is why I don't understand how the idea of moving him to a different position even gets mentioned. Before the season I pegged him and Gordon as the two who needed to show the most growth over the season. Luol had a overall better season but also displayed inconsistency which was most evident in the playoffs. Remember though, this past season he was playing over 30 minutes a game and putting up numbers at age 20. Players who start out so well so young rarely flame out, and if I were running the team Luol would be the last guy I'd give up. Some might say his lack of athleticism limit his ultimate ceiling as a player, but his defense, ballhandling, and shot selection (stop the transition pull up jumpers at the elbow) will only improve as he gets more experience. As one of the bigger 3's in the league, Deng can be a unique and special player. Next season will be very important, as Luol will have a full summer to prepare(he was limited last summer after a wrist injury in the '04-'05 season) and use the year to show the league if he could be considered a max-contract player. I honestly think he has that potential.
Instead of moving Deng to the two-guard, Andres Nocioni is the player who'd benefit most from a position change. Noc was the most improved Bull this season, and while older than most of his teammates its easy to forget that last season was his rookie year in a new league and a new country, so this may be the Noc we can expect. He evolved from a junk player to a real contributor, and at $3m next season will be a bargain. He may not consistently put up the numbers he did in the playoffs (not every game is against Antoine Walker), but what he showed in those playoff games is that he can be more effective as an undersized 4. And ideal situation next season would include Pax getting a quality post player and have Nocioni come off the bench splitting time at the 3 and 4 spots. As far as his tradability, it can be said that his value may never be higher. However his value to the Bulls may be more than to any other team, so I figure he's staying.
I still can't believe Eric Piatkowski got as many minutes as he did in the playoffs, although as a free agent it could be the last we see of him. Another 'locker room leader' who contributes very little, I won't shed a tear if he leaves, however even if he made the team again he'd be spending most of the year on the inactive list anyway. Pike shot 27% on 3-pointers this year so I'd think the Bulls could find a better player to take his designated outside shooter role.