Bulls have options with 20th overall pick

Bulls have options with 20th overall pick

June 27, 2013, 9:45 am
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Nerlens Noel or Alex Len? Ben McLemore or Victor Oladipo? Otto Porter or Anthony Bennett?

Those aren't dilemmas the Bulls need to concern themselves with, unless you believe the unfounded reports about Luol potentially being traded for a lottery pick, which is highly unlikely to occur for a variety of reasons, according to people in the know. Ditto for the rumors about a contract extension for the All-Star, as the Bulls haven't been in touch with him lately.

[NBA Draft Capsule: Kansas SG Ben McLemore]

But back to the draft. The whispers about the Bulls being in talks with the Rockets about trading their first-round pick for power forward Thomas Robinson, a top-five selection just a year ago, can't be discounted, but it should be noted that Houston has discussed making that deal with several teams to clear cap space in a bid to sign Dwight Howard in free agency.

[NBA Draft Capsule: Georgetown SF Otto Porter]

A draft-day trade can't be ruled out, but expect the Bulls to keep the 20th overall pick and draft a backup center, a wing shooter, the best-available player or even an international, draft-and-stash prospect. In other words, similar to choosing Marquis last year, until their selection is made, all this speculation is just a guessing game, even after trying to glean some insight from tidbits of information, such as Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. coming into the Berto Center twice for workouts (he's been in Chicago for his draft preparation anyway).

On to the mailbag:

Any possibility the Bulls go for upside talent in either Karasev or Antetokounmpo and stow him overseas to build talent and ease cap?

James, I wouldn't be shocked if the Bulls went for an international prospect they could stash in order to keep his salary off the books for next season and possibly beyond, but I doubt the two names you mentioned will be available, based on the recent buzz they've been receiving. Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira is a player I'd put in the mix, as the skinny shot-blocker has a high ceiling and has a defensive mentality that fits. But I think they're more focused on getting a rookie who can be in the rotation next season.

[READ: Deng to Washington? It's a rumor]

Would Ricky Ledo fit for the Bulls at No. 20? Which SG would they target most?

Tony, I think Ledo would be a great long-term fit, but after not playing his freshman year at Providence, the Bulls might want a rookie who has a better chance of contributing next season. That said, he's one of the best overall talents in the draft (unlike a lot of people parroting that line, I saw him play on the AAU circuit) and with his combination of shooting, size, athleticism and skill, has one of the best upsides of any prospect on the board. He could still slip to the second round based on off-court concerns, but he'd be a difficult player to pass up.

Should teams in the 20s focus more on best player available or biggest need? What do the Bulls tend to do?

Terry, it all depends on the makeup of a team's roster, particularly if there's a logjam at a specific position, but most teams usually opt for the best-available route. Even teams that target a need will draft a player they view as a steal if he drops unexpectedly. The Bulls are of the same ilk, as evidenced by Marquis, but going into the draft, they'll probably focus on a center or shooter. However, if the likes of San Diego State swingman Jamaal Franklin, for example, whose most glaring weakness is outside shooting, has suitably impressed them, they could certainly ignore personnel needs.

[NBA Draft Capsule: Indiana SG Victor Oladipo]

Who is your biggest second-round sleeper who has a chance to make the Bulls roster?

Michael, I'll go with a player who I now increasingly believe won't be around with the 49th pick, Long Beach State's James Ennis. He's from a mid-major program, but is an elite athlete who can play defense and knock down shots. Another guy cut from the same cloth is Arizona State's Carrick Felix, also a wing, who has a great motor and similar qualities to Ennis. If they go with a swingman in the first round, then the pickings are a bit slimmer when it comes to true centers, but maybe a physical banger like Colorado State's Colton Iverson could be an option.

If you had to pick one for the Bulls, who would you take: Withey, Plumlee or Dieng?

Randall, of those three, I'd go with Dieng, simply because I think he has less of a defensive learning curve than Plumlee and has more offensive potential than Withey, whose stock is dropping. Plumlee might have a higher ceiling and better athleticism than the others, but he could be slow to fit into the system. Dieng isn't a big scorer, but he knows his role on both ends, is a formidable shot-blocker and an underrated mid-range shooter. Withey could be a bit one-dimensional as an NBA players, but players with his size and defensive prowess don't grow on trees either.