With the NBA Draft just a few days away, it’s time to take a look at whom the Cleveland Cavaliers’ divisional rivals will be selecting in the upcoming NBA Draft. In this post — the third of four — Right Down Euclid senior writer Chris Manning takes a look at the Chicago Bulls.
Draft Picks: Nos. 20 and 49
The 2012-13 NBA season for the Chicago Bulls can largely be chalked up as a “what if.” Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls were still a playoff team in the Eastern Conference and even won their first round series against a solid Brooklyn Nets squad. But without Rose, the Bulls fell in five games to the Miami Heat and now face an offseason full of questions. Do they look to move or amnesty Carlos Boozer, who is set to make upwards of $15 million next season? With the emergence of Jimmy Butler, do they look to move Loul Deng for picks and/or young talent? And most importantly, is Rose – their franchise player – going to come back the same player next season after missing this season due to his ACL injury? All of these questions set up a very intriguing summer in the Windy City.
Biggest Strength: Overall Roster
The Bulls have a very smartly (albeit expensive) built roster. It’s built around Rose, and when he’s healthy, this is a very good team. Their biggest area of strength is down low, where Joakim Noah, Boozer and Taj Gibson form a physical trio few teams can match up against. On the wings, Deng, Butler, Kirk Hinrich, Rip Hamilton, Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli give Chicago real depth. Some of these pieces (Boozer, Robinson and Deng) are going to be at least looked at being moved. But even if they do move those players, they’ll have players under contract capable of stepping up. Tom Thibodeau, one of the best coaches in the league, smartly manages all of this. If this offseason – starting with the draft – goes well, Rose’s return could vault the Bulls to the top of the East.
Biggest Weakness: Scoring
For a team as good as Chicago, they had a real problem scoring the ball last season. They finished 29th in the league with 93.2 points per game, and Boozer led them in scoring with 16.4 points per game. Rose, with a career average of 21.0 points, will help that, but it can’t solve everything – especially if Rose doesn’t come back the same aggressive player he was and Boozer moves on. In the draft, they’ll need to take a player who can put the ball in the hoop. Problem is in this year’s draft, there are not a lot of elite scorers out there. A thin free agency crop won’t provide much help either. And that puts all the pressure on Rose and his knee.
Site Editor Zak Kolesar on Derrick Rose Frustration:
I admit it. I fell victim to that genius marketing plan by Derrick Rose and his team that was supposed to be hyping up his return to the court at some point during the 2012-13 season. I kept telling my peers: “With the intense workouts that he has been doing during rehab, he is going to come back twice as strong like Adrian Peterson.” After Peterson’s ACL injury during the 2011 NFL campaign, he came back and nearly broke the single-season record for most rushing yards and looked like a freak of nature while doing it. After Rose’s ACL injury during the 2012 NBA Playoffs, all we saw were pictures of the former MVP sneaking behind the corner of NBA arenas and smirking as if he was inadvertently telling fans that a comeback would be on the horizon. Then we heard of Rose shooting hoops during practice, and then before games. But this all ended up being a hoax, as Rose didn’t even come back to help his team battle the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs after getting past the Brooklyn Nets. Fans became livid at Rose as time went on and each promise of return came back empty. As we discussed on the latest episode of Tuesdays with Right Down Euclid, the psychological factor of returning to the court may be playing a part in why Rose hasn’t been so quick to return to action. I doubt he will be as explosive in the paint as he once was, only because he will risk injury by doing so. He’s going to have to tweak his game from before if he wants to have a long and prosperous NBA career, and I think that’s what has been messing him up. Yes, it’s extremely frustrating, and I think this waiting period is only telling us that we will not see one of the great athletes in the League return to where he once was as a player. Is this the death of an NBA superstar? Maybe, but Rose is a fighter that promised to bring the city of Chicago back to glory, so he will do all he can to do so.
Right Down Euclid Predicts
At 20, we predict that the Bulls will select center Mason Plumlee from Duke. And at 49, we see the Bulls taking Ricky Ledo, a shooting guard from Providence.