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Re-doing the 2014, 2015, and 2016 NBA Drafts for the Chicago Bulls

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As part of SB Nation’s What If Week, we went into a time machine and made some changes to the Bulls drafting strategies over a three-year stretch

2019 NBA Draft Lottery Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Though there are new faces now in charge of the Chicago Bulls front office, we can reflect even more on the decisions of the previous regime. Advocates for GarPax usually mention the NBA Draft. While Chicago certainly has had some massive hits when it comes to drafting (Jimmy Butler), there has been a fair share of clear misses as well. As a part of SB Nation’s “What If?” week, I was the representative for the Bulls in the re-drafts of 2014, ‘15, and ‘16.

I couldn’t trade any of my picks so there was no maneuvering I could do. Another restriction to this was that these picks were for the first round only.

When it came to overall draft strategy, I decided to use a mix of best player available on the board and what fit the current day needs of the Bulls. Given how they are still currently in a rebuild, the two plans overlap in that Chicago just needs to acquire talent when it comes to the draft. However, I did try to target guards and wings over frontcourt players. This was mostly due to the duo of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. being the current starters at the four and five positions respectively.

Here are the three picks if the Bulls had a do-over.

2014

Original Pick: Doug McDermott

Re-draft: Gary Harris

Now we talked about no movement of picks but that didn’t include existing pre-existing trades so in this universe we have to pretend that the Bulls still leaped up to 11th. This time the selection wasn’t Doug McDermott. The pick was, however, a player involved in the original deal: Gary Harris.

Although Harris has struggled this season, he would have still been a solid addition to the Bulls. Harris has shown the potential to be a decent three-point shooter and overall scorer. His overall true shooting percentage for his career is pretty nice at 55.8 percent and out of his six total seasons, he’s averaged double digits for five of them.

Defensively, Harris hasn’t shown to be a plus defender for much of his career but this season has been different. While his offense hasn’t been effective at all, Harris has seen his defensive box plus/minus jump from -0.4 to 0.4.

There has been potential on both sides of the ball for Harris to be a steady player. He can play the three at times too. If he was drafted by the Bulls, there is a case he could be the starter for them.

Here is a look at the top 20 picks of the 2014 re-draft:

2015

Original Pick: Bobby Portis

Re-Draft Pick: Delon Wright

Chicago had the 22nd pick in this draft and with a lot of bigs taken off the board in picks ten through twenty, there were some guard options available. Just like in 2014, I went with a guard in Delon Wright.

In the last ten picks of the first round, the chances of you finding a superstar or an All-Star type player aren’t that high. But you can find a nice player in this range and that is exactly what Wright is. He can play solid off the bench and facilitate the offense. Wright has a career assist percentage of 20 percent so he knows how to find guys in good positions for baskets. His per-game numbers don’t exactly pop out but they are ok with 7.3 points and 3.4 assists this season.

Defensively he can match up well against other guards. Wright is a fantastic defender and the advanced metrics back that up too. He has averaged a defensive box plus/minus of 1.7 over his career and this current season has him at a 2.0.

The Bulls need bench depth and although Coby White played well in the last couple of games Chicago played, they need a steady guard who can compliment his style of play. Wright could be that guy. He can move the ball around and let Cody be the scorer out of the two.

Here are all the guys picked before Wright in the draft:

2016

Original Pick: Denzel Valentine

Re-Draft Pick: Dorian Finney-Smith

When it got to the 14th pick in the 2016 re-draft, there were two main choices on the board for the Bulls. One was Dorian Finney-Smith from the Mavericks and Jakob Poltl from the Spurs. Both are solid contributors to their team and would be good additions to the Bulls. However, the pick ended up being Finney-Smith due to wing players being more of a priority with Chicago at the moment.

Finney-Smith is a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions. With a 6’11 wingspan, he can contest even with the biggest power forwards and swarm an opposing perimeter player. For a team like the Bulls who struggle defensively against opposing wings, having a guy like Finney-Smith would help neutralize one of the holes in Chicago’s defense.

At 6’7, Finney-Smith can play small forward and even played as a stretch four for Dallas at times. This season has been his best yet in terms of offense. He’s averaging a career-high 9.3 points per game and is knocking down 37.4 percent of his attempts from three. Finney-Smith’s three-point percentage has gone up every year he’s been in the league and it’s a good sign that there has been an increase in his attempts from long range too.

Here is the re-draft order of the first 20 picks of 2016: