CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls hold the No. 4 pick in this year’s NBA draft, a spot that has been both advantageous and underwhelming in their history.
This year’s draft class does not have a clear No. 1 pick, but has three players — James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards — who are considered the best of the bunch.
The Bulls have the pick just outside that group. It will give them first dibs on a crowded middle of the pack, where opinions on each player could differ depending on who you ask.
“I think going from team to team, the consensus is going to be very different,” Bulls VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said. “They haven’t played since March. People are going to have different evaluations of each player and opinion is going to vary. There’s a lot of opportunity in that environment. Hopefully at fourth, we’re going to get a very good player.”
In the past, the fourth overall pick has produced players such as Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Mike Conley or more recently, hits such as Aaron Gordon or Kristaps Porzingis. After being stuck at No. 7 the last few seasons, the leap up to No. 4 feels like an opportunity for the team’s new front office to make its mark on the roster.
The Bulls have drafted at No. 4 four times in team history and the results have been, well, mixed. Here’s a look at how the Bulls have done with the No. 4 pick.
Tom Boerwinkle, 1968
The first time the Bulls had the No. 4 pick was the most success they had drafting from that position with the selection of Tom Boerwinkle, the 7-foot big man from Tennessee.
Boerwinkle played his entire NBA career with the Bulls, 10 seasons and 635 games, and played on teams alongside Jerry Sloan and Bob Love. While Boerwinkle’s numbers were not eye-popping — he averaged 7.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists — he was the team’s leading rebounder, known for his ability to set screens and a passer ahead of his time for a big man.
Boerwinkle also set a team record with 37 rebounds in a game against the Suns on Jan. 8, 1970. His selection helped the Bulls for about a decade and the organization hopes this year’s draft pick will have the same kind of staying power.
Marcus Fizer, 2000
The 2000 NBA draft will go down as one of the worst draft classes in modern league history, so perhaps the Bulls can be cut some slack for missing with this pick.
Marcus Fizer’s career with the team was largely forgettable. There were trade rumors from the beginning of his selection, considering the Bulls already had Elton Brand at his position, but he ended up playing four seasons in Chicago.
He had a solid rookie season and peaked during his second year, but he finished an underwhelming career in Chicago averaging 10.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in 232 games. After leaving the Bulls, Fizer bounced around for parts of two more seasons before he was out of the league.
Eddy Curry, 2001
Eddy Curry’s four-year tenure with the Bulls was filled with ups and downs. And while he was talented and once their leading scorer for a playoff team, his flaws ultimately were too large for him to become the big man the Bulls were hoping they could build around long-term.
Curry entered the NBA draft surrounded by hype coming out of Thornwood High School, which was only heightened when he was selected by his hometown team along with the second pick in the draft, Tyson Chandler.
Curry averaged 11.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 53% from the field with the Bulls, peaking in 2004-05 when he led the team in scoring with 16.1 points per game. The Bulls made the playoffs that season for the first time in the post-Michael Jordan era, but a heart issue kept Curry out.
He signed with the New York Knicks during the offseason and although he played 11 seasons in the NBA, he never reached the potential anyone envisioned on draft night.
Tyrus Thomas swap, 2006
John Paxson and Gar Forman were not afraid to be aggressive on draft night and this perhaps was their biggest misfire in what turned out to be a one-sided trade.
The Bulls used the second overall pick to draft LaMarcus Aldridge, but traded him to the Portland Trail Blazers for the fourth overall pick, Tyrus Thomas, and Victor Khryapa in a move that quickly backfired.
Aldridge was named the NBA’s rookie of the year in 2006-07. Thomas showed promise in spurts, and he averaged 10.8 points and 6.4 rebounds at his peak for a playoff team in 2008-09, but he also never panned out the way the team hoped. He lasted four seasons and averaged just 7.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game before he was traded to Charlotte.
Aldridge, meanwhile, made it to seven All-Star teams, five times All-NBA who averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in his career, which is exactly the kind of building block the Bulls were on the lookout for.
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