I wanted to get some quick thoughts down on the record ahead of the draft tomorrow night. I always enjoy the draft; in year’s past, when my Bulls were bad to mediocre, draft time was my favorite time of the year. This year has a lot of room for intrigue, as some teams at the top of the draft have cap space (Cleveland, Orlando, and Charlotte) and the talent at the top is considered relatively weak. It’s possible that there could be a lot of trades of top picks for established players, as teams try to unload large salaries and add cheap production on rookie contracts, adjusting to the new, harsh reality of the CBA’s more restrictive salary constraints, or we could see little movement as no one finds deals they like (to me, always the more likely scenario). In any event, this draft will still have some productive players in it. A lot of the success of the players drafted tomorrow night will depend on their situation and their work ethics, but I do believe there will be a fair number of contributors in this draft, if not any stars.
Players I Like A Lot:
Victor Oladipo (SG, Indiana)
Oladipo is a player who scouts appear to believe in quite a bit, according to Chad Ford’s Secret Big Board. Oladipo is believed by many scouts to have the highest floor in this year’s draft, and I have to say looking at his production, it’s hard to argue. He rebounds the ball very well for a guard and gets a lot of blocks and steals per-minute (demonstrating NBA-level athleticism). In watching him, you can see how hard-nosed a defender he is and how hard he competes. On offense, he has a tendency to float and not assert himself enough for a player of his talent and his left-hand dribble drive is quite weak. All in all, though, Oladipo was incredibly efficient as a scorer, a ferocious defender, and a great guard rebounder. I think there’s basically no chance he’s not a starter in the league, and might be a bit better than that if he improves his outside shooting.
Otto Porter (SF, Georgetown)
Porter basically ticks all the major boxes for a wing prospect coming into the NBA. He’s got the size and length to be a pro, and similarly, but to a lesser extent, his numbers in college indicate that he has the baseline of athleticism to be a successful pro. He can also shoot from distance and is a smart defensive player with the length to do the job on the NBA level. He should be a solid pro.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG, Georgia)
KCP scored over 22 points per 40 minutes (pace-adjusted) on good efficiency, despite playing with absolutely awful teammates. He shoots it well from outside, and under duress, and he has good athleticism and has the length to be a plus defender in the league.
Cody Zeller (PF, Indiana)
Zeller scores efficiently and a lot and he improved his rebounding significantly over his freshman season where it was a bit of a red flag. He’s not a paint intimidator, but he gets a good number of steals for a big man, and he has active feet and could be a plus defender in a system like Tom Thibodeau’s where active, mobile big men with good defensive footwork on the perimeter are prized. As a traditional big man defender, he would be a negative, but since the league seems to be going away from one on one defense in favor of team defense, Zeller gets a boost.
Players I Don’t Like
Anthony Bennett (PF, UNLV)
Bennett is a fantastic offensive player, who didn’t play defense worth a lick. That’s a pretty big problem and I don’t like betting on guys who don’t even bother with defense in college where they have physical advantages to suddenly become positive defensive players in the pros.
Shabazz Muhammad (SF, UCLA)
Muhammad appears to have been very overhyped coming into college, and he turned in a very mediocre season. He was a pretty inefficient scorer, he didn’t have rebounds, steals, and blocks numbers that pointed to elite athleticism, and he also lied about his age. When confronted about the lie in an interview with Grantland, he shuffled the blame off on others. Too many red flags make Muhammad someone I wouldn’t draft no matter where I was on the draft board.
Michael Carter-Williams (PG, Syracuse)
MCW is a big PG who stinks at shooting, turns the ball over A LOT, is about to turn 22, and got outplayed in the tournament by Trey Burke. Now some people are projecting him to be drafted ahead of Burke. Um, what?
Thoughts on what My Bulls might do at Pick #20
The Bulls have a decent track record of picking late in the first round (see: Butler, Jimmy; Gibson, Taj; Mirotic, Nikola) but they have made some mistakes (see: Teague, Marquis; Johnson, James). I feel pretty confident that they can get someone useful with their selection, whether that’s a wing or a backup big man. What I don’t want them to do is to trade the #20 pick for Thomas Robinson, a player who is 21 years old and showed nothing at all in his tumultuous rookie season. Unfortunately, the Bulls have been linked to the Rockets for just such a trade. Ugh. Count me out on that deal.