Bulls Draft: Smart, Not Spectacular

In a typical NBA draft, there are about 15 or so players who will stay
in the league longer than 5 years.  Only a handful will become impact

By all accounts, the 2011 draft class was an exceptionally weak one.

So if you're the Bulls and you come in with the  28th, 30th and 43rd
picks, you're expectations should be adjusted accordingly.  The Bulls
didn't find their shooting guard of the future, but then again, they
didn't expect to.

Having established themselves as legitimate title contenders, the Bulls
entered the draft with a dream and a plan.  The dream was that they
could somehow use their picks and a non-rotation player or two in a
trade that would net them a shooting guard like the Grizzlies' O.J. Mayo
or Houston's Courtney Lee, both players for whom the Bulls showed
interest at the February trade deadline.  It didn't happen in February
and it didn't happen on Draft Night.

Since the dream didn't materialize, Bulls management moved quickly on
their plan.  Though they had 3 picks, Bulls' General Manager Gar Forman
made it clear that they wanted no more than 2 rookies on their roster. 
The truth is that they preferred zero or one, leaving more room for
veterans who could help the team immediately.  Though their dream didn't
come true, they executed their plan very nicely.

Nikola Mirotic

First, they traded their #28 and #43 picks for the Minnesota
Timberwolves' 23rd overall pick.  With that pick, they selected 20
year-old Montenegro-born power forward Nikola Mirotic.  The 6-10 power
forward has two things the Bulls really like.  First, he's got
talent...loads of it.  Second, because of his contract obligations
playing for the prestigious Real Madrid team, he won't be available for
at least two years, saving the Bulls a roster spot.  According to
DraftExpress.com, for my money the foremost published source for talent
evaluations of NBA prospects, "Chicago just drafted the 7th most
talented player in the draft with the #23 pick."  Most scouts I've read
agree and feel that Mirotic would have been a top-10 selection if not
for his contract commitments.  The truth is that the Bulls are more than
happy to have Mirotic develop his game overseas where he can get much
more game action against quality competition.

While those fans whose only form of gratification is the immediate
variety will be disappointed that they'll have to wait to see Mirotic in
a Bulls' uniform, for Bulls' management, this was Christmas in June.

Jimmy Butler

At #30 the Bulls selected 6-8 Marquette swingman (shooting guard/small
forward) Jimmy Butler. Butler's life story would be made into a movie
except it already was.  If you saw "The Blindside," just substitute
Butler for Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher and switch
from the gridiron to to the hardwood and the stories are virtually
identical.  Suffice it to say that if it's true that it's not what you
achieve, but what you overcome that matters most, this kid's character
is off the charts.

Character is great and all, but can the young man ball?  Playing in the
tough, tough Big East Conference last season, Butler averaged 16 points
and 6 rebounds per game while shooting 49% from the field and 35% from
the 3-point arc.  Good numbers.  And before you go thinking that Butler
is one of those productive college players who lack the athleticism for
the NBA, be advised that he posted a 39-inch vertical leap at the
combine, just an inch short of what Derrick Rose did. The two words
most often associated with Butler are versatility and defense...good

While it's always a longshot for a 30th pick to make it in the NBA, Jimmy Butler's overcome much worse.

It's not surprising that few fans are doing cartwheels over the Bulls'
draft.  Still, I think the Bulls did a great job of executing their
pre-draft plan and for this deserve at least polite applause.

Tom Nossem


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  • I still believe Mirotic will be a trading chip. His scouting report sounds a little too much Radmanovich for my taste. BTW, listen to KC's podcast where he says that Butler "dominated" Brooks in their head-to-head workout. Makes me feel somewhat better about by-passing Marshon. (However, if the Bulls would have traded-up for Brooks Thursday fans would have been ecstatic. Admit it, folks.)

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Looking at Mirotic in games, he appears much better than Radmanovich, but time will tell.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    I am absolutely thrilled with Bulls trade up from 28 to 23 for so little (2nd and cash).
    Bulls have obviously learned from their mistake in 2007 when they had 49 and 51, thought Euro Marc Gasol would drop to them, and got burned when Gasol was taken at 48.

    Since then, Bulls traded up for Euro Asik and Euro Mirotic. Bulls learned from their 2007 blunder and made two shrewd tradeups for Euros in 2008 and 2011.

    With Nikola Mirotic and the Charlotte pick (neither of which will be traded), Bulls will reload with talent when Rose is 25-26. How cool is that?!?

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Mirotic won't be traded. With him and the Charlotte pick, Bulls will reload with talent when Rose is 25-26!

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Love, absolutely, the Mirotic pick. Everything about it.

    Butler is growing on me now. I see him as a Taj Gibson at the wing spot. High character, similar in a lot of ways, skills differ somewhat but they share versatility on the defensive end. I think he ends up a quality rotation player who earns playing time, and becomes a favorite of Thibs. Also, if something unfortunate happens to Deng, we now have Brewer & Butler who can step in at SF. Hope he can imporve his range.

  • Mirotic was actually my 1st choice believe it or not, so Im thrilled with this pick. According to hoopshype, he should be here within the next 2-3 years. Hes already playing at the highest level of competition overseas an hes only 20 year old. So thats really impressive, I also just read that he actually won a MVP award not long ago. I usually dont like Euros guy, but Mirotic is actually a player I like. If he can develop a faceup post game, I would love it. Especailly with his length, its gonna be hard to block the guys shot if he develops a faceup game much like Dirk. His 3ball an mid range shots are excellent, many times he just swishes his shots, nothing but net. Hes a solid athlete for a guy thats 6'10. Quick jumper, good length helps him on defense and recovery.If he gets pumped faked, he is good enough to still get up quick enough to get the block. Of course Thibs will deff. make him into a better defender. If Im the Bulls, I would try my best to try to mold Mirotic after a Kukuc/Dirk type game. He has the ability to do it.

    As for Jimmy Butler, Im not crazy about him, but everything I hear is good things. Im excited to see his defense that everyone keeps talking about. I thought the Bulls would of nabbed Justin Harper with this pick, but the Bulls have shown us they do know how to draft a little bit. Of late anyways. So im believing in them. Im also really excited to hear that Butler dominated Marshon Brooks in the head to head workouts. Thats refreshing news.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    I believe it! I remember you telling us, good call sir!

  • In reply to Csharp:

    Yep couldnt agree more with you guys. Thats exactly what the Bulls are doing...loading up talent for Rose when he gets a little older.

  • In reply to Csharp:

    Yes, Rose can't sign his extension until after the new CBA. So Bulls will execute their SG trade and go to Rose with both a veteran SG and two assets coming in 3 years. How do you think that makes Rose feels about his long-term future with the Bulls? GREAT!

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