It's mid-October, which means you're probably gearing up, crunching numbers and tinkering with rankings leading up to your fantasy basketball draft. And if you want solid value, look no further than Chicago, where Tom Thibodeau continues to rely on his starters/core as much as any head coach in the league. There are injury concerns with some of this year's Bulls, but if you're looking for players who you know will see 30+ minutes per night and put up impressive and efficient numbers, Chicago is one of the best places to find draft-day gems.
RotoWorld.com held a 12-team, 16-round roto mock draft (9-cat) at the end of September, with five Bulls being selected in the 192-man draft. Here are those players, ranked, and a breakdown of what their fantasy status looks like heading into draft day.
Derrick Rose (2nd round, 18th overall): One of the biggest fantasy mysteries near the top of this year's draft is becoming clearer just two weeks into the preseason. Rose, who missed all of last season recovering from ACL surgery, sat with knee soreness in Brazil after scoring 13 points in each of his first two games back, but overall the former MVP has looked like his old self. Assuming he doesn't miss any time in the regular season -- Rose said he could have played in Rio -- he'll likely contend for first-round status. He isn't the numbers man Chris Paul is and there's too much talent around him to match what Kyrie Irving will do, but with Russell Westbrook out 4-to-6 weeks after knee surgery, Rose could very well be the second third guard off the board.
Joakim Noah (3rd round, 26th overall): Without Derrick Rose, Noah put together his most complete year, averaging 11.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.2 steals. That versatility, along with his solid percentages, make him a rotisserie dream. He's not fantastic in any one area besides blocks, but he's as complete a center as you'll find in your draft. His numbers may regress slightly with Rose back in the lineup, but with only Nazr Mohammed behind him he'll be in line again to average 35+ minutes per night. Injuries are somewhat of a concern -- he missed 16 games last season -- and he's being held out of preseason action with a groin pull, but you can safely pencil him in anywhere in the third round of your drafts.
Jimmy Butler (8th round, 87th overall): Butler's numbers the final two months of last season (12.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 steals) were impressive and he was even better in the playoffs, so there's good reason to believe the Bulls' starting shooting guard will be even better in his third season. In terms of rotisserie, he's going to give your team a bit of everything but could be really impressive with steals, blocks and rebounds for the shooting-guard position. Position-unique statistics (such as assists for a center, 3-pointers for a power forward or blocks for a point guard) are important, and though Butler will play shooting guard his game (and stats) are more like a small forward or power forward. Draft Butler with confidence.
Luol Deng (8th round, 88th overall): Despite back-to-back All-Star appearances, Deng is no longer an early-round draft pick in the fantasy world. His field-goal percentage has dipped the last two seasons and though he adds positive numbers in most categories, he doesn't do anything exceptionally well. With Rose back in action, Deng is no longer the primary scoring option for the Bulls, but he's still worth a mid-round pick because he's going to be near the top of the league in minutes per game, adds good 3-pointers, steals and blocks for a small forward and will hover around six rebounds per game.
Carlos Boozer (9th round, 108th overall): Say what you will about Boozer, but the 31-year-old power forward produces. Last year he averaged 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds in 79 games. He did shoot a career-worst 47.7 percent from the field (he had previously never shot less than 50 percent in a season), doesn't do much for your blocks (0.4 per game last year) and is a career 72.4 percent free-throw shooter. Still, if you're looking for the pure points and rebounds, Boozer is going to fill the state sheet.
Taj Gibson (undrafted): Gibson wasn't drafted in RotoWorld's mock draft, but he's putting together a preseason performance that may warrant a selection late in your draft. Through three games, Gibson has averaged 17.0 points and 8.6 rebounds while showing he's healthy and ready to bounce back from a dismal performance last season. With Noah and Boozer locked in as starters, Gibson would only have real value in fantasy starting lineups if either went down. He's a good player to stash.