Get your fancy suits and flat-billed team hats ready, it’s NBA Draft Day!
Best suit in NBA Draft history right there. I wonder if Andrew Wiggins kept the hat…
Commissioner Adam Silver, who has yet to give Draft attendees a reason to boo him, is expected to shake the hands of the 2015 draft class and its coveted triumvirate. That group include’s Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, and Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell. After that, the field of college basketball’s best and international stars becomes much less predictable. Trade talks have heated up across the league, and it doesn’t appear to be as much smokescreen as it has in the past (Way to blow your cover, George Karl).
The Chicago Bulls, for the time being, appear to be staying put in the 22nd spot and that’s not a bad thing. In recent years, Vice President John Paxson and General Manager Gar Forman have found “diamonds in the rough” late in the first round after selecting Taj Gibson 26th in 2009 and All-Star Jimmy Butler 30th in 2011. They flipped 28th overall pick Norris Cole and 2nd rounder Malcolm Lee for Nikola Mirotic, who was selected 23rd by Houston before making his way to Minnesota via trade, also in the 2011 draft. Tony Snell, selected 20th overall in 2013, made strides as an athletic scorer last season. However, Marquis Teague (29th overall in 2012) may or may not have changed professions after being traded to Brooklyn in 2014 for Tornike Shengelia (we hardly knew thee…No, we never thee at all). Hitting on four out of five picks is still a nice batting average though…
While it’s nice to have a lottery choice in the draft, picking between the 20 and 30 spots is still significantly valuable. The players available are older, better developed for specific roles, and ready to contribute right away. They are also nearly 20% the price of a the Top 3 draft picks. In 2013, frenchman Rudy Gobert was selected 27th by the Utah Jazz. Gobert was 11 blocked shots behind Anthony Davis for the league lead this past season and earned $1.1 million. 1st overall 2013 pick Anthony Bennett has averaged just 4.7 points per game, is on his second team in as many years (and back on the trading block), and made $5.6 million last season.
So who will be there for the Bulls after the Dallas Mavericks make their choice at 21? Let’s take a look at who fits their needs and can realistically be available.
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Senior / Guard / 6-5
Son of former NBA forward Harvey Grant and nephew of four-time NBA Champion Horace Grant, Jerian Grant may be the best fit. Backcourt depth was a glaring issue for the Bulls, especially in the playoffs, and Grant is one of the best point guard prospects in this draft. His size and ball handling allows Grant to play both 1 and 2 guard spots, making him a flexible option for new head coach Fred Hoiberg to pair with either Derrick Rose or Butler. With an ability to create his own shot and excel in transition, Grant can also be utilized in small lineups in case Hoiberg wants to play him with both Rose and Butler. He averaged 16.5 points, 6.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game in his senior season while also shooting over 57% from 2-point range. Being older, Grant can contribute right away for a Bulls team that wants to win now…and he can certainly finish at the rim.
Rashad Vaughn, UNLV
Freshman / Guard / 6-6
The Bulls lacked dependable scoring off the bench in the postseason last year. Rashad Vaughn is an “instant offense” pure scorer who has shown he can generate scoring in bunches. Averaging 17.8 points per game, Vaughn is a natural scorer and played his best in catch-and-shoot opportunities. He can create off the dribble in isolation situations and is athletic enough to be a decent defender. Vaughn’s freshman season was ended prematurely due to a meniscus tear against Fresno State in February, which has contributed to his slide in draft projections.
Junior/ Guard / 6-6
During March Madness this year, the country was made aware (if they weren’t already) of RJ Hunter as he knocked out #3 Baylor from the tournament…and his coach/dad out of his chair.
As 3-star recruit from Indianapolis, Hunter passed on much bigger programs than Georgia State so he could play for his father and led the Panthers to 25+ victory seasons. Hunter provides two things the Bulls are in need of…scoring and 3-point shooting. As they wait and see who Doug McDermott is in Hoiberg’s system, adding Hunter’s 19.7 points per game and 51% shooting from the field doesn’t hurt either.
Trey Lyles, Kentucky
Freshman / Forward / 6-10
Had he not been on the same team as Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles would be a much higher prospect in this draft. Lyles was forced to play out of position at small forward with Alex Poythress going down to injury, but it allowed him to showcase how skilled he is off the dribble. Lyles is one of the best well-rounded forwards in the 2015 class and would bolster a very thin front court rotation for the Bulls. With Joakim Noah playing on one leg and Gibson out recovering from ankle surgery, Lyles provides a post up game that the Bulls don’t have with either Pau Gasol or Mirotic.
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
Junior / Forward / 6-9
It is probably a stretch to think Sam Dekker would fall to the Bulls at 22, but his projections for tonight’s draft have varied from 8th overall to 25th. Like Hunter, Dekker provides scoring and range beyond the arc, but he is more polished and has done it against better competition. Dekker’s versatility on both ends of the floor and athleticism make him more than a role player off the bench. He can defend multiple positions, can play the 4 in small lineup scenarios, and is better prepared to play right away.