In the third and final part of our NBA draft round-table, we each discuss who we think the Bulls should select come draft night. Not necessarily who we want, but factoring in the likely direction of the team, the Bulls impending cap space and the free agent market. Below are the final responses.
Topic #3: Obviously, we don't know yet which direction GarPax are heading this offseason, but one could assume they'll want to get back into the playoffs next year. Assuming that, and factoring in the Bulls offseason needs, in addition to their cap space and the free agent market, who would be your top choice for the Bulls in the upcoming draft and why?
Vijay: I would choose Baldwin. He's young (19), crazy wingspan that can help him guard 1's and 2's which will certainly make him more playable than an Aaron Brooks or even Derrick Rose at some points of the game.
Baldwin's ability to hit 3's can also help him get more playing time as well. He's the typical "3 & D" guy and he doesn't need to be the #1 option on offense and doesn't always need the ball in his hands to help out on offense.
Luwawu is a great prospect too and like I said earlier, if the Bulls get Luwawu or Baldwin, I'm not complaining.
Tyler: I'm going with Timothe Luwawu, for a couple of different reasons. Mainly, because the wing position has been in shambles for the past couple of seasons. In addition, the wing position is probably the highest commodity in today's NBA, and given the Bulls cap situation it's highly unlikely they'll be able to attract any first or second tier FAs.
As of now, it's plausible to say that McDermott, who's a one way player is the best option at small forward on the roster. With Luwawu, he would provide a two-way skill-set and has the ability to step in and contribute right away, while still having a tremendous amount of potential, even for being 21 years old already.
Obviously, the Bulls have needs at the point guard and center positions, but I believe for the time being, those could be shored up through the second round of the draft and free agency. Guys like Gary Payton II and Caris Lavert should be available in the second round. As for free agency, surely the Bulls would be able to bring back combo guard E'Twaun Moore, maybe even entice someone they should've gone after last summer in Jeremy Lin.
The Bulls big man situation is tricky, with Taj Gibson, Niko, Bobby Portis and the myth himself Cristiano Felicio. Chicago could very well overpay guys like Mahinmi and Biyombo (not ideal), but there are also FAs available who could create an OK rotation. Names such as Tyler Zeller, and Cole Aldrich come to mind. Go after players in much of the same way the Portland Trailblazers did last summer.
But Chicago's wing position to me, is the most pertinent need, going through the draft and selecting Luwawu helps fill that void.
Mark: If Chicago's objective is to build the best team possible that can quickly get back into the playoffs and challenge the Cavaliers, I'm not sure any prospects we've discussed can immediately help that task. If management are budgeting the 14th overall pick in a weak draft to play a key role within a rotation in their first season come playoff time, they're headed down a flawed path.
We saw this play out in Thibodeau's final season. Mirotic had a terrible postseason and McDermott was in the doghouse. Neither contributed to a playoff run, despite being sold as mature and readymade rookies. Both of these player's had higher ceilings than those currently on Chicago's big board -- or at least we thought.
Reality is, unless the Bulls find an absolute steal at No. 14, banking on that player to materially help the team get into the playoffs would be a mistake. Ideally, the Bulls building a winning team with a serious shot of doing damage, would force this year's draft pick out of the rotation. Whether it's Baldwin, Luwawu or Sabonis, I hope they're sitting on the bench receiving DNPs due to superior options being in front of them in the rotation.
Drafting Wade Baldwin shouldn't preclude the Bulls from adding even more experienced point guard depth to its rotation. In fact, that has to be a mandatory requirement when factoring in Derrick Rose's injury history. A free agent guard should still be of highest priority, and this player needs to be in front of a first-round pick in a capable rotation. With time, Domantas Sabonis will become a quality player, but if Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah walk out of the door and aren't adequately replaced by a free agent, the Bulls will fail.
If the Bulls are to return to the top of the East, their latest draftee needs to be a luxury, not a necessity. Should the Bulls' 2016 rookie be playing big minutes for the team this season, one of two things has occurred: the Bulls have found this year's Devin Booker, or they're a team with a thin rotation that is relying heavily on youth and struggling to stay afloat. The latter is more likely.
Drew: We all know that this front office is not going to just throw in the towel. As long as there is even the tiniest bit of hope GarPax will try to put a competitive team out on the floor. None of us really see the Bulls trying to ship out Rose or Butler and start the rebuilding process, so whoever the Bulls draft will probably be apart of the rotation at some point next season. Mark said above that he is hoping for DNPs and I am as well. Unfortunately I do not see that happening.
I think we are all thinking Baldwin and Luwawu as two possible picks. I am going to have to lean towards Luwawu. The Bulls are going to try and make the postseason and be competitive and I think Luwawu can be "their guy." Luwawu can get up and down the floor which is great for Fred Hoiberg and someone who is long enough to disrupt shots on the defensive end. He is not polished on the defensive side but he has all of the tools.
Josh: I think the front office must look at the landscape of the Eastern Conference and ask the one question..."What can be done to be competitive vs Cleveland?" Really in my opinion I think they should cut their losses and just rebuild completely, but I doubt that happens nor do I think the fanbase nor this market wants that either.
Of the three guys I mentioned, Wade Baldwin IV. No he won't be a changing piece to the franchise but he would be a great start. As someone else mentioned his wingspan and how that can bring defense. He can be your point guard and he plays well off the ball too. Again, his defense receives high rankings. He would be a great fit to this system.
Will: As I've said, it really all depends on the direction the front office wants to go. To me, even with the news that Noah is gone, the Bulls have plenty of bigs to plug in, including Cristiano Felicio, who deserves to play bigger minutes this year. At this point, you still have Gibson, but you also need to really see what you have in Mirotic and Portis and decide how much of your future you see in them. No need to crowd the rotation further, unless a trade is in order.
That leaves wings and guards. I really like Luwawu and Baldwin, and would be thrilled with either of them, but Valentine seems to be the right move. He's got the right character to be a leader and big part of the future. He can be a secondary ball handler on any unit, and he can also really shoot the three. On a team that has so many holes, he checks the most, to be a contributor now and down the road. The only thing that worries me is his defensive capabilities, especially next to McDermott and Mirotic. However, I still see his offensive game as the most versatile and well suited to take on more and more responsibility as he grows. And Hoiball doesn't involve defense anyway ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
The draft is a little less than a month away, and there's still a lot of unknowns surrounding the Bulls. The big question right now is, which direction will GarPax go in, in the draft? Once we know the answer to that question, it will provide us a glimpse at where the Bulls may be heading into free agency and beyond. Until then, it's just a guessing game.