So the unpossible has happenz.
The Chicago Bulls have the #1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. They, unlike the majority of lottery teams, are not completely ruined in the personnel department. They're one year removed from the Conference Semifinals. Their dysfunction caught everyone off guard. It was like you went to sleep with a cold and woke up with leprosy.
With the rather complicated decision the Bulls now face, and since we don't discuss trades in our mock drafts, we thought we'd go over the Bulls roster in terms of what they now face. The #1 pick can be the greatest of blessings or the cruelest of curses, and what the Bulls do over the next month will influence their franchise for the next half-decade.
After the jump, where the Bulls stand.
Back Court: Let's start where everyone's thoughts immediately went after the Bulls were revealed as the #1 Pick. Kirk Hinrich. Let's get something out of the way. I'm a Kirk Hinrich guy. He's the only player from Kansas outside of Paul Pierce I've ever really been a fan of. (Being a Mizzou fan, it comes with the territory.) So I'll admit that I like the guy, but there are actually reasons I think he's valuable. And I understand the liabilities that are inherent with him. But the issue with this particular draft is more complicated.
The big noise out of Chicago tonight is that Kirk has to go and the Derrick Rose era is imminent and shall be glorious. And don't get us wrong, Derrick Rose is the top prospect in this draft. But Rose is not a "run the offense" point guard. He's a scoring point, which can be highly valuable in the right system with the right personnel. But Hinrich gives you a point that can run an offense, and make the right decision. If you watch the Bulls when Hinrich's on the floor, he handles the majority of the possessions. And he's able to direct the ball to where it needs to go. He had a bad season, there's no doubting that. But he also suffered through injuries and played less minutes in the coaching carousel this season, and still managed to have near-career average assists, rebounds, and steals. Really the problem? He went through a cold streak. And those pass. Shooting also improves with health. I'm not saying Hinrich is a better player than Rose will be. If you don't assume Rose busts, he'll probably be better. But dumping Hinrich substitutes a C+ point guard with a rookie B+ at best. And doesn't solve the down low scoring drought.
Now granted, Chris Duhon is vapor trails as a free agent most likely, so the idea could be floated to bench Hinrich or start him until Rose develops. But really? You're going to pay $10 million next year, and possibly $36.5 million over 4 years for a backup, mentor type player? Really? Regardless of whether Rose is the right choice or not, drafting Rose and keeping Hinrich is not a wise decision.
Last season as I watched Ben Gordon try and dribble out of another half court trap instead of passing to a wide open Andres Nocioni, I asked myself, "Is there a more self-centric small guard in the league, completely unable to fit into an offense and constantly searching for his own shot?"
And then the Bulls traded for that exact small guard.
Look, I'm not the worst Larry Hughes hater out there. But with these two on the roster, they need a guard that's going to be able to actually create ball movement and make sure it doesn't turn into the fourth Blink 182 album offense. And based on some scouts' evaluations of Rose, I'm not sure he's that guy. Again, I think Rose is the best player in the draft. He's just not the best player for the Bulls.
Still, if the Bulls make a significant trade, or series of trades, they can rework the offense and at that point, you have a dynamic attack that would fit Rose perfectly. There's been significant talk of blowing up the core anyway, and if you're ever going to blow up a team for a player, Rose is worthy of that kind of move. But two shoot-first combo guards are counter-productive.
Front Court: For years the back court was solid, and the front court was a whopping disappointment. Last year, instead of all coming together, it flip flopped. While the front court consisted of Kirk Hinrich having some sort of emo-music-induced breakdown and Ben Gordon and Larry Hughes were, well, being Larry Hughes and Ben Gordon, the front court started to gel and finally became a viable unit when Ben Wallace, or as I like to call him, the black hole of basketball, was shipped off to Cleveland to overuse in Game 7 against the Celtics and ensure LeBron's passage to Brooklyn in two years. With the addition of Drew Gooden, the Bulls got a scorer that could provide veteran leadership to compliment Joakim Noah, a tireless worker with quite a bit of upside and Tyrus Thomas, the human M-80 (loud for a second and then filled with resounding silence). And oh, yeah, there's Andres Nocioni,on the books for $8 million and really talented at... well, he specializes in ... I mean he can really ... um ... but hey! He's really kind of okay at like, twelve things, every other game.
But while the frontcourt started to develop, it still needs points. And Luol Deng, who two years ago looked like a franchise player is looking more and more questionable with injuries and a lack of toughness. Conversely, Beasley fits right in with this system. He's athletic and big, can get up and down the floor, and can slide in between the three and the four. Versus Nocioni who is jack of all trades, master of none, Beasley can be master of several trades, but will probably struggle with the small things.
Conversely, though, getting Beasley results in the following stack at forwards/center: Joakim Noah, Drew Gooden, Tyrus Thomas, Andres Nocioni, and Demetris Nichols AND Michael Beasley.
That's a lot of beef on the Bulls.
Sorry. I tried to stop that one. I really did.
End Result: Either way, somebody's gotta move. The good news is that in a league where too often management holds off on the trigger (except for last season, where players were moving like Magic the Gathering cards at the chess club Christmas party), the Bulls are in the best position. They have assets to deal, but a pick to justify any maneuver and serve as the impetus for change.
It's a blessing and a curse, but one way or another, change is coming to Chicago.