The Chicago Bulls will be selecting 20th in the 2013 NBA Draft, which is a part of the round they have fared well in recent years. Taj Gibson, recently awarded a sizable contract extension, was selected 26 overall in the 2009 draft. James Johnson was selected 16th in that same draft and eventually traded for the pick that netted the Bulls Nikola Mirotic, a rising star in Spain. Jimmy Butler, who has taken on a very important role on this year’s injury-ridden Bulls, was taken at the 30th position in the 2011 draft. The Bulls traded the 16th pick of NBA draft, Rodney Carney, for Thabo Sefolosha. Sefolosha contributed for the Bulls for two years before the Bulls were able to trade him for a first round pick (which became Taj Gibson). With a new set of needs and a new set of prospects, the Bulls will look to duplicate that success in 2013.
The Bulls have been seeking a well-rounded shooting guard for several years, often seen as the missing piece that could take the Bulls from a good team to one that would be truly competitive with the Heat on a yearly basis. It is unlikely that the Bulls will find a superstar shooting guard at the 20 spot in the first round, but they nonetheless may still look to bolster their depth at this position. Jimmy Butler looks to be an early favorite to take the starting job at that spot for next season, his likely future is to take the place of Luol Deng at the small forward spot. Marco Belinelli will also compete for a starting job and certainly would see minutes off of the bench, but he will be a free agent and may command more money than the Bulls will give up.
With the loss of Omer Asik in the offseason and Nazr Mohammed headed toward free agency, the Bulls may look for depth at the center position as well. Joakim Noah has set career highs in minutes and while he continues to improve as a player, he has battled his share of injuries and the Bulls would love to lessen his load going forward. Ideally, they could have his replacement waiting in the wings as well. Carlos Boozer may be amnestied within the next year or two as well, which could make taking a post player even more of a priority.
With all of that said, the Bulls have been willing to simply take the best player available. Last year’s selection of Marquis Teague came as a surprise to you just about everyone, since the Bulls are pretty well set at that position with Derrick Rose under contract for the distant future. In that sense, do not be surprised if the Bulls simply select a player they feel is especially talented, even if he is not a perfect fit into their present depth chart.
Archie Goodwin, SG, Kentucky – Yahoo! Sports’ Steve Alexander has the Bulls taking Goodwin in his first mock draft, and this is a good fit for both team needs and for the type of talent the Bulls will be looking for. He is very athletic and has high upside, but there are questions about how refined his offensive skillset is.
Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh – The big New Zealander is another high upside choice and the Bulls would hope for the kind of development they had with equally large Omer Asik. Unsurprisingly, his main deficiencies are on the defensive end.
Jamaal Franklin, SG, San Diego State – Franklin’s high energy paired with good athleticism should make him a fit for a Tom Thibodeau-coached team. He has a track record of scoring and shot creation, but questions linger about his ability to shoot from the outside.
Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil – This big young man is another project with major upside. He is athletic, seven feet tall, but very raw. He has been critiqued for his effort on the defensive end and still lacks any especially impressive offensive skills, so he would have to do some growing up in the NBA. Despite this, he still may not fall as far as pick 20.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia – A very good fit for the Bulls’ immediate needs, Caldwell-Pope is a talented scorer that can make shots from the outside. He is big enough (6’6″) to guard almost any shooting guard and many small forwards, and has the athleticism to do the job as well. His ball handling and driving skills will need refinement in the NBA and he does come from a middling team in the recently weak SEC. Pope may work himself into the lottery with good workouts.
While the Bulls would certainly look at power forwards as well as centers, there are not many currently projected to go in that part of the first round. It would not be shocking if the Bulls took a small forward, but at this point this is their area of least need short of point guard.
Much may change before now and draft day, but these are likely targets that fill areas of need for the Bulls and should be good value picks in the first round. A trade of Luol Deng or an amnesty of Carlos Boozer could change the draft strategy significantly, however. Likewise, any major trade would likely involve the Bulls moving up in the draft.