We are just a few weeks away from the NBA Draft, which means plenty of trade rumors and mock drafts will give rise until Adam Silver announces the first pick turned in by the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 26.
The Chicago Bulls managed to clinch the fourth seed in the playoffs without their star player in Derrick Rose before being bounced out of the first round by the Washington Wizards. Defense wins championships, but in the Bulls’ case, continuing to not be a threat offensively will hurt their chances in advancing past title contending franchises in the Eastern Conference, like the Heat, Raptors, Wizards or Pacers.
Since their conference finals appearance in 2011, the Bulls have lost in the first round twice and the conference semifinals once — all without the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player. In order for them to get over their recent playoff hump, they must add another scoring threat to put the pressure off of Rose once he comes back, as well as allowing Joakim Noah to take more time in improving his shooting rather than being thrown into the fire at the start of next season.
The team has come forward as a potential candidate to land either Kevin Love or Carmelo Anthony. The idea of creating a dynamic offensive duo with Anthony and Rose or adding another dominating frontcourt presence in Love would be a dream come true for Bulls fans, but let’s be realistic here. With $64 million in salaries for next season, it would be a long shot for Chicago to acquire one of these two All-Stars.
Instead, Chicago should look into the draft to improve their scoring issues. With two first-round picks, as well as the fact that this year’s draft class is loading with prospects that are ready to play a big role early, this route makes more sense if the Bulls are more focused on their long-term success than short-term.
According to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, the Denver Nuggets are in discussions with the Bulls in the possibility of swapping first-round picks. Denver currently has the No. 11 pick, which would be sent to Chicago in exchange for the No. 16 and No. 19 picks. Ford reports that if the trade is successful, Chicago will choose between Michigan State’s Gary Harris or Nik Stauskas from Michigan.
Sources say the Nuggets have had serious discussions with the Bulls about swapping No. 11 for Nos. 16 and 19. If the Bulls get this pick, they’ll grab either Harris or Stauskas here.
Selecting Stauskas or Harris in the draft would automatically give the Bulls another versatile scorer to line up alongside a healthy Rose. If he’s able to work on his size and athleticism this offseason, Stauskas can be the type of shooter Chicago has been looking for ever since Rose went down. The Ontario native averaged 17.5 points, 3.3 assists and 0.6 steals per game on 46 percent shooting for the Wolverines as a sophomore. Harris, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, averaged 16.7 points, 2.7 assists and 1.8 steals for the Spartans. As a sophomore, the 19-year-old led MSU to the Elite Eight before the Spartans were knocked out of the tournament by the eventual champions, the Connecticut Huskies.
If the Bulls decide not to trade away their picks, they’ll still be able to acquire much needed talent with both selections. In his latest mock draft, Ford has Chicago selecting Tyler Ennis at No. 16 and Rodney Hood at No. 19.
Ennis doesn’t quite have the same appeal as some of the other point guards in the draft, which has hurt his stock a little. Still, it’s hard to see him slipping past the Bulls here or at No. 19. He’s the sort of steady point guard who would be perfect coming off the bench for the Bulls.
The Bulls need shooting in the worst way, and Hood shot a red-hot 42 percent from 3 this season. He has elite size for his position and the maturity to step in and play meaningful minutes from Day 1 for the Bulls. While the Bulls still have some frontcourt issues to address, this draft really should shore up their backcourt challenges.
Other names that could be available when the Bulls are the clock include Doug McDermott, James Young, Elfrid Payton and Zach LaVine – all of whom have the ability to put points on the board with ease for a team that averaged a mere 93.7 points per game this season.