In life, it's terrible being judged for things you didn't do. Everyday there are infinite possibilities of things you could have done and didn't. What stocks went through the roof that I didn't buy? What winning lotto numbers could I have played? In the NBA, things are rarely different.
Not trading a guy who's value peaked will look silly in two years, but trading him if he's still on the rise or if the assets you acquire look poor will then look stupid. When using the power of hindsight, the Bulls front office typically looks very good for the majority of their moves. They rarely make the moves fans want, and thus, as the old saying goes, they aren't sitting with them.
In that sense, I am not going to judge them for not trading Luol Deng for a pick that would have landed them Jeremy Lamb, Harrison Barnes, Austin Rivers, or some similar prospect. Maybe in a few years that will look silly or maybe the reverse. Maybe such a move wasn't really even on the table at all. For all the talk of lotto picks being available, this draft featured fewer trades than any in memory.
I know when we judge that lack of a trade in two years, we'll take whomever the best prospect available is then assume the Bulls should have traded Deng for that guy and ignore the five other guys they might have taken who ended up worse.
The one thing that will disappoint me, at least for now, is that Chicago didn't use its non guaranteed deals to buy a first round or two by taking on a little salary. It would have meant paying some luxury tax, but it would have meant upgrading the team. As I argued I really would like the Bulls to step up and show that they're willing to spend some money in order to maximize their chances of winning.
However, this isn't a management decision. This is an ownership decision. Gar Forman and John Paxson would likely love to have had the leeway to spend whatever they want every year, and while they may have permission to go into the tax some, they likely know exactly how far they can go into it and have to plot very carefully their course. I trust them to maximize the dollars they have available while knowing exactly what they are.
So yes, I would have liked to see Chicago go out and purchase some second rounders or late first rounders and grab Doron Lamb, Jeff Taylor, Orlando Johnson, or someone else. However, I understand why management may not have had that option. There's also, of course, the fact that every year on draft night we vastly overrate all the talent available. The majority of time when these guys fall it because they stink and aren't likely ever to be rotation players for the team that takes them.
To me, this seemed like a talent rich class that was worth taking a shot on, but I'm not a professional scout nor do I know what was truly available in terms of picks for sale and what they'd cost. Once we get past the grading Chicago on what they didn't do and for not living up to an impossible standard, we can grade them on what they did.
The Bulls kicked ass with their single selection
Chicago has been known for taking guys who were ready to contribute immediately, have high character, and can carve out a niche for themselves. They've found several successful players in that niche in the late first round/second round of the draft. Chris Duhon, Aaron Gray, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, and JamesOn Curry make up the selections they've kept from those situations, three of which were hits relative to their draft position with the book still out [but promising] on Butler while Curry was drafted at a spot where almost no one sticks.
Chicago blew that model out of the water by taking Marquis Teague [Jeff Teague's brother] at 29. Teague just turned 19 in February, had only one year of college, and was one of the highest rated recruits from his high school class. He won a national title at Kentucky while leading the team in minutes played, and has the physical attributes to match the elite PGs in the NBA.
The Bulls didn't settle for someone who could come in make the most impact right away, but they drafted someone who had the highest ceiling available with their pick. Of all the players available at 29, Teague is one of the few who has a legitimate chance to become a star in the NBA rather than just a role player. He has elite athleticism for his position and will step onto the court as one of the quickest players in the NBA.
He also fills immediate needs for Chicago who will need a backup PG for Derrick Rose, someone who can handle the ball, and someone who can create their own shot. With Rose likely out for the first half of the year and the Bulls having little money to spend on PG replacements, Teague should have ample opportunity to learn on the fly early in the season. I hope Tom Thibodeau is willing to play the rookie PG extensively prior to Rose coming back, because afterwards it will become much tougher to get him on the court.
If we ignore the unfair standard of grading the Bulls on what they didn't do, but only look at what they could have done with just pick #29 then I think the front office hit a home run. Granted, we'll have to wait and see how Teague develops as what looks like a good pick on draft day can end up terrible and what looks terrible can end up great [the draft class of James Johnson and Taj Gibson proves both of these points at one time].
However, given that I don't have a crystal ball and can only guess how the players in the draft will perform, I couldn't be happier with what the Bulls pulled off right now. Now I'll just have to hope Marquis Teague backs up my belief on the court.
Filed under: Draft Coverage