Noah and Nazi Mohammed, a 14-year veteran, are the two big men for Chicago as of right now. Noah is battling through Plantar Faciitis, which can be a chronic, life-long injury, and Mohammed doesn't have a lot of years left in the NBA, much less years left starting at center. Taj Gibson acts as a backup as needed in the man in the middle role, but for the last two seasons, this has been Chicago's most vulnerable position when it comes to depth.
With the upcoming draft, now is a good time to assess the situation in the middle. That's where University of Pittsburgh's Steven Adams comes into the fray. At seven feet he adds much needed height to the Bulls bench especially after Omer Asik left to play for Houston. In hindsight, that may not have been the best move to let him walk, but at the time Houston was willing to pay for his potential and the Bulls couldn't afford to.
Adams was born in New Zealand, but came to the United States to play basketball at Pittsburgh as their starting center, only the third freshman under Jamie Dixon to do so. Those freshman? NBA centers DeJuan Blair and Chris Taft. He has raw talent at the position and is constantly improving his game. Right now his biggest weakness is free throws, but Shaquille O'Neal never shot from the line well and is still regarded as one of the best centers to play the game. Shooting mechanics can be improved upon, that is, unless you're Shaq, who only broke a 60% free throw average once in his career.
It's his lack of experience playing at a high level of competition that is a little troublesome. He won't start, that's for sure, but the position, as Dwight Howard could tell you, is hard on the body already. So with a chronic injury like Noah's, it's not a matter of if he has to miss games, but when. Mohammed is a good backup, but age is not on his side, which makes the first round pick of center all that more impacting for the Bulls.
Adams is nothing but upside. He averaged about 57% from the field and 6.3 rebounds per game, but only averaged 7.2 points per game. His post game needs work, but his jumpshot is good enough for now, which is what the Bulls need. He needs some work on the offensive side of the ball, that much is clear, but since he'll be a rookie, he'll have time to adjust and improve backing up Noah.
He's not the best center in the draft, but that's OK because he'll be overlooked for Kentucky University's Nerlens Noel, University of Maryland's Alex Len and Indiana University's Cody Zeller, who'll all go early in the first round. With the focus on those three centers Adams is a hidden gem of untapped potential that would be great for the Bulls' future.
If the Bulls have the option to get Adams in the first round, they should jump at it.
Tim Bearden has covered professional sports in Chicago since 2010. He's extensively covered the Chicago Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox. He graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in journalism and has written sports for Buzz Magazine, the Chicagoist and his own blog FantasyFreakout. You can also follow Tim (@tdbearden) on Twitter.
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- Joakim Noah
- Taj Gibson
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