COMMENTARY | The Chicago Bulls find themselves in a great position entering the 2013 NBA Draft. The No. 20 overall pick does not usually scream excitement, but getting a healthy Derrick Rose back for the 2013-2014 season means Chicago does not need much in the way of an impact player from the college ranks. Rose will solve a lot of the deficiencies from a season ago, but there are certain areas that, if solidified, could make Chicago one of the legitimate front-running title contenders.
Who Are The Bulls Losing? Great news: The entire starting lineup is still under contract for next season. Bad news: Keys players on the deep Chicago bench still need to be re-signed. Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson have contract issues heading into next season, and each could demand a much higher price tag as free agents.
Nate Robinson stepped up big in Rose's absence during last season's playoff-run. Robinson's 16.3 ppg were only 0.1 behind Carlos Boozer for the team lead during the postseason. "Nate the Great" is oftentimes erratic, but the tiny sparkplug could make for an explosive second unit coming off of the bench behind Rose. The Bulls will have to up Robinson's $1.1 million contract from 2012-2013 if they want to have a chance to retain him.
Belinelli's $1.9 million contract is also probably a tad paltry for what a clutch shooter could find in free agency. The Bulls have finally found a starting wing player in Jimmy Butler, but Belinelli's value off of the bench cannot be overstated. Bear in mind, Belinelli becomes even more important with Rose back. Rose's ability to break defenses down for drive-and-kick opportunities will make spot-up jump shooters open a lot next season. The Bulls lost Kyle Korver and Keith Bogans the past two seasons, so their roster is very short on players who can stroke it from distance.
Strengths - Head coach Tom Thibodeau came from the Boston Celtics' bench and immediately instilled a strong attention to defense. Chicago was second-best in terms of opponent's scoring last season. The Bulls gave up 92.9 ppg, which was second only to Indiana's 90.7.
As customarily goes hand-in-hand with a strong defense, the Bulls also had one of the best rebounding teams in basketball. Joakim Noah and Boozer individually tied for No. 4 in the East, helping Chicago bring down 43.2 boards per game. No matter whom the Bulls select in the draft, expect him to be a player who can fit into Chicago's strong defensive system.
Weaknesses - The Bulls desperately needed another go-to scorer off of the wing, even before Rose was injured. Butler came in and established himself this season as a player who can give the Bulls exactly that, but he too has yet to assimilate his game with Rose's. Will he flourish or be overshadowed as a result of playing next to a superstar like Rose?
With or without Rose, the Bulls need better shooters. Re-signing Belinelli will help, but Chicago ranked dead last in three-point field goals made per game last season with an average of 5.4 tickling the twine each night. Robinson and Belinelli are two of the top three-point shooters on the team. Losing either could make for an immediate need to react on draft night.
Reggie Bullock, UNC, SF
From North Carolina, 6'6'', Michael….I mean, Reggie Bullock!
For any Chicago Bulls fan who also happens to be an admirer of North Carolina Tar Heels basketball, the way the Bulls have drafted since Michael Jordan retired may make you sick. After taking Duke names like Elton Brand, Jay Williams, Loul Deng and Chris Duhon, not to mention signing Carlos Boozer and offering a contract to J.J. Redick, it may be time to try the other North Carolina powerhouse once again.
Bullock averaged 13.9 ppg during his sophomore season at Chapel Hill. He is a tall wing player who specializes in the three-point shot and defense, which puts his name into the growing "3-and-D" specialist category the Bulls should look to target.
Bullock shot 43.6 percent from behind the arc for Carolina last season. He is projected to go late in the first round, right around where the Bulls will be selecting. But, given the way the Bulls have been drafting lately, Chicago will probably reach and take Duke's Seth Curry.
Jeff Withey, Kansas, C
Chicago could always choose to add another big to shore up their front line even further. If we learned anything from watching the NBA playoffs this season it was that the Miami Heat are beatable by teams with enough size.
The problem for Chicago is that they are not a very good inside scoring team. Boozer does most of his damage as a mid-range jump shooter, while Noah is more of a put-back, garbage-bucket scorer. Chicago could use a true big with post skills who can get easy buckets three feet from the basket. Short of building a time machine to go back and un-trade LaMarcus Aldridge on draft night in 2006, the Bulls may be able to solve their big-man dilemma by drafting Withey.
Withey is a 7'0'' shot blocker who averaged 14 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots per game during his senior season at Kansas. Coincidentally, Withey broke Joakim Noah's NCAA Tournament record for blocked shots when he swatted away 31 balls in 2012.
Lucas Bowen is a professional second-guesser who specializes in the Chicago Bulls. After being spoiled with six NBA titles from MJ, Bowen has been eagerly awaiting the next chapter of Chicago excellence.
- Sports & Recreation
- Chicago Bulls
- Derrick Rose
- Marco Belinelli
- Carlos Boozer
- Nate Robinson