Tony Snell or Tim Hardaway Jr, did the Bulls make the right choice afterall?

Tony Snell or Tim Hardaway Jr, did the Bulls make the right choice afterall?

Let's ignore the fact that the big men depth available at this pick was pretty awesome. Mason Plumlee, Gorgui Dieng, and Rudy Gobert were on the board when we took Snell. However, the Bulls were looking for wing depth and when looking at wings available Snell just might be the man.

His biggest competition is the man taken at pick 24, Tim Hardaway Jr. He was the guy many Bulls fans wanted instead of Snell and definitely had the stronger rookie season. However, with a little development and time, Tony Snell might just be the stronger prospect now.

Tim Hardaway has a much higher usage rate. He scores more per minute than Snell by a significant part. A good chunk of this is the role both players play. Hardaway is on a Knicks team missing Carmelo Anthony. A team that needs scorers.

Snell isn't a natural volume scorer, and he's playing on a team that isn't asking that of him.

However, when it comes to volume scoring, Hardaway doesn't seem like a particularly good player. At 17.2 points per 36 minutes his scoring rate is good but hardly special, and his TS% of 50.9% is in the god awful range which limits the value of that volume scoring.

Hardaway's performance may improve in terms of efficiency on a better team, but his volume likely dips in this scenario as well. His three point percentage has fallen to 34% this season, down from 36.3% last season which falls inline with a player missing a quality scoring option next to him who takes more difficult shots.

That said, would you trade Snell for Hardaway right now?

Snell's three point percentage is up to 40.5% this season. His TS% is up to 56.6%. Snell definitely benefits from having quality options around him at times, but he's frequently done the most damage when he's had to take on a larger role and has more touches.

Snell has also improved leaps and bounds on the defensive end. It's hard to judge Hardaway as a defender on a broken defensive team, but I'm still going to give the edge to Snell given that he's statistically playing better defense and has the physical attributes that I'd expect him to be the better defender as well.

Tony Snell was a player that I felt the Bulls totally whiffed on. They reached (relative to mock draft rankings) to grab him at 20. He was projected as a mid second rounder on most of the mocks. However, much like Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler, Chicago may have found a diamond in the rough with Snell.

Looking through the rest of the guard crop taken after Snell, I don't see any other players experiencing more success either. While a draft typically can't be judged well until three to four years after the draft, as we near the end of year two, Snell looks like the best wing player available to me.

Snell is still a bit up and down, but it looks like he'll stick in the future and fill the role of three point shooter / defender that the Bulls were aiming to fill with some upside to become even better.

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  • We'll see about Snell. I'm stunned that he's shooting 40% from deep. He either is on fire or throws up some of the worst bricks I've seen in the NBA... Like if I was out there shooting!

    I do not have high hopes for Snell but you never know...

    I'd be stoked if he could be Danny Green, and Snell is way better than Green was at this point in his career. Green rode the bench in CLE and even hit the D league. These guys are so young that I would say it takes 5-6 years to fully assess the strength of a draft.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Yea, a great deal of the time he shoots three's like it's a hope and a prayer proposition, not looking like he's actually trying to make them, more like he's taking one just to take a shot.

    I wasn't a big Hardaway fan in the first place, and since I never see him play, so I really can't say if he is better or worse, but my gut feeling is that he is more aggressive, dare I say awake, so I'd likely bet on that in the long run.

  • Great piece as always, Doug.

    I would add that while I only see Hardaway when the Knicks play the Bulls, Snell looks to be a far superior ball-handler as well.

    Snell does a pretty good job of getting the ball over half court when other teams press, and he is also starting to look more comfortable grabbing a defensive rebound and leading the fast break.

    I've always been a proponent of big backcourts, and I'd love to see the Bulls be able to take the floor with a Snell - Butler - McDoug 1-3 with Mirotic and Noah in the front court.

    Mirotic and Noah are both right near the top ball-handlers and passers in the league (for their positions).

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Don, I disagree with you about Snell as expressed in my other post but I would like to comment regarding your post yesterday regarding Gasol.

    I agree with you that Gasol has been a terrific value pick up for the Bulls. One could argue that he has been their best player this year. Certainly, no worse than second best after Butler. I think the problem has been that his acquisition resulted in putting Noah in a position where he could not be as effective as last year. Noah was defensive player of the year last season. IMO, he is most effective defensively the closer he is to the basket. Why put him in a position where he is less effective as a defender? That's something I can't figure out.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    While I would agree that he has been a "value" for his offensive production and for his rebounding numbers rather than his actual effect on the Bulls as a rebounding team I would like to point out 3 sequences from the OKC game on Sunday that really epitomize how unbelievably soft, lazy and counterproductive he really is despite the patina of his numbers.

    First with about 2 minutes to go in the first quarter, he used the Mirotic eyebrow pump fake to beat his man off the dribble in the circle area, blew by him for an essentially uncontested layup which he missed badly because being the charmin player that he is, he was terrified that someone was going to hit him even though he was virtually uncontested. Then as OKC got the rebound and took off on a fast break, he lazily let his momentum carry him off the court and into the fifth row of seats, where he remained while desperately searching for a ref to bitch at even though no one touched him. OK came down and got an easy shot at the rim for Adams(gasol's man) so Hangdog mugged him to send him to the line. Gasol never crosses half court until after the foul. Adams hit the first, but missed the second. Kantor who was on Gasols side of the lane tossed Gasol aside like a paper mache rag doll and scored the easy putback. 5 point turnaround which would have eliminated the Bulls need to start fouling in the final 2 minutes of the game.

    Second play occurred in the third quarter at about the 5.5 minute mark. One of the Bulls shot an airball, Gasol who was behind the backboard(where you normally can't make a play) was able to catch the airball before it hit the ground and put up a nearly uncontested 2 footer, which he again missed likely terrified that someone was going to hit him again. OKC got the rebound and again takes off on a fastbreak with Gasol standing around under the rim again looking for a ref to bitch at about another fantasy foul call. OKC goes down and gets an easy uncontested bucket for Adams(again Gasol's man)Gasol does not cross half court. 4 point turnaround this time, thats 9 points on just 2 sequences that might have come in handy late in the game.

    Finally, on OKC's last possession of the third quarter with OKC at the line again, they hit the first free throw miss the second. Gasol again gets tossed aside with one hand like a paper mache rag doll by Adams who agains gets the easy uncontested put back. Bulls down 5 entering the 4rth instead of 3.

    So that's 11 points given away on just 3 sequences of play. 3 sequences which fully illustrate the total softness, laziness and little bitch whinyness that is the essence of Gasol as a player and the essence of why no matter how big of a "value" his contract appears to be, he isn't providing any winning value for this Bulls team. A situation likely to only get worse in the playoffs.

    Gasol has value in the sense that he can eat up some minutes and score some points. Heck, he might even be our best 3 point shooter from the corners. However, he should totally be boozerized, as in only play the first and third quarters, that would be his value filling up garbage time with useless stats. Letting Noah, Mirotic and Taj finish the games for the entirety 4rth quarter.

    I'd really love for everybody to go back and watch those 3 sequences.

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    In reply to BigWay:

    Pau has been the best player for the Bulls all season long. If not the best the most consistent. When you look at the OKC game remember that Pau is 34 yrs old and logging the mins of a 23 yr old while Noah is under a mins restriction, and Taj is recouping from ankle injury.
    Pau has been a Godsend for the Bulls. Without him the Bulls would have trouble scoring and go through some serious scoring droughts.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    Clearly Butler has been our best player this season. I suppose that if you only watch one half of the court(or the box score as most people do) you might pick Gasoline.

    Yes, there would be times when we would have our usual problems scoring, maybe plenty of times with the injuries that we've had.

    However, with no Gasoline, the other team would also have problems scoring from time to time as opposed to cruising down interstate 16 at 100 mph with no traffic anywhere in sight to impede them.

    Also, no Gasoline means Noah and Taj start and Niko gets at least 30 minutes from day one, so who knows where he would be right now. Maybe he's a 20ppg scorer for the season. Or maybe, right about now Noah and Niko start, and Taj plays his usual role as 6th man.

    Gasol is a mirage, fools gold for those who don't know what NBA gold is really all about. I hope that Thibs gets it before the playoffs and boozerizes him, its our only hope, well along with health.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    My sense is that Snell is only a decent ball handler in the open floor, I don't think that he can handle the ball well enough in traffic or under pressure, thus he could never be your primary ballhandler, or really even secondary in charge of initiating offense. I have no idea about Hardaway's ballhandling.

  • First of all Doug, I can't ignore the fact that Plumlee, Dieng, and Gobert were still on the board when they selected Snell. Even when Snell had that string of good games, and people thought that Snell was going to be some sort of stud, I still would have traded Snell even-up for any of those three big men. IMO, Snell will never be more than a seventh or eighth man-at best. He disappears frequently, makes bonehead plays, and has difficulty making shots under pressure. Is he better than last year? No doubt. But those big guys are better players and much more valuable assets.

    As to whether I would take Hardaway over Snell. Probably, because I like rotational guys who are aggressive and can score in bunches in limited minutes. I think Tim is better at that than Tony. Actually, I would take James Ennis of Miami over both of them. Always liked his game. I think he will eventually have a better career than both of them.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Realistically, I don't think that too many Bulls fans had Gobert on their radar, however, it is kind of the Bulls job to have guys on their radar. But clearly the vast majority of fans wanted a fresh new big to back up Noah, anyone of those 3 guys would have been welcomed additions.

    I was actually surprised by how coordinated he looked when I first saw him last season, he definitely looked like he would be a real player, not just some stick figure freak. Not sure that anyone saw him becoming even as good as he is now as fast as he has.

    Interestingly, had we picked any of them, we might not have gone after Gasol this past summer, or if we did, we might have moved Taj.

  • I just think it is funny we are having this conversation when about two months ago most people didn't think he was good enough to be in the NBA.

  • I thought Hardaway was the better pick at the time. The problem with Snell is he isn't aggressive, can't finish or get to the line and is a poor rebounder. Defense is generally good but he does get hung up on screens. I can't hate on him for that too much since the Bulls suck at pick and roll defense this year. Snell still has potential to be a very good role player starter but he needs to continue to put the work in and become more aggressive, channel his inner westbrook and go wild and attack the rim........

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Snell improved his agressiveness in the Summer League, and he certainly is more agressive now. Otherwise, how could he have a number of 20+ point games?

    Just the other night I saw him drive from outside the 3-point line past multiple players and dunk the ball with authority! He's getting there.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Yes, he will do that from time to time, but if you've noticed, he can really only do so when there is no traffic in the lane, kind of a parting of the Red Sea event.

  • Doug, I usually agree with most everything you write but I have to tell you and everyone else on this board that thinks similarly about this. ......its not that Taj, Jimmy, Snell were diamonds in the ruff. Its that Thibs benched them until they molded into solid players. His system forces you to do the work, otherwise you get Teagued out. That's why I hate it when everyone complains about McDough boys minutes. If you want Doug to be good, you'll let the system work like it has. the only reason why Mirotic has played so much is because of injuries. Dont get me wrong, I love seeing him play, and he is different than most rookies, but you can't deny that we're watching a player who is far from his potential athletically and defensively.

  • In reply to Villageworker2:

    Great point. Thibs holds back rookies initially, but that's not such a bad thing for the long-term success of the player and the team.

    Taj came in under Vinny and he was pretty good as a rook.

    Jimmy is the only player that has become a better player under Thibs.

    Yet to be seen with Snell, although he's following the Butler 2-3 year plan so far, I'd say...

    Teague was terrible. Since I went to UK, I watched him a lot in college. I was luke-warm on the pick. No shooting touch and no confidence in his game. Bad decision-making. Even as a Freshman under Cal he was shaky, although he did improve. I think the Bulls were stunned that he was still around so late and pulled the trigger even though they may not have done the homework thinking that he'd be off the board. His combine quickness/jumping stats were about the best that year, for what it's worth, so there was potential.

  • In reply to Granby:

    By the way, Will Barton(the guy that a number of us wanted with the Teague pick) has somewhat exploded since being traded from Portland(who took him early in the second round) to Denver, putting up 25 & 9 last night. Barton might have negated the Snell pick, which then might have been used on a big, hmmm. It might be interesting to follow the progress of those two guys side by side.

  • Having watched the big guy now, I'd have taken one of those, maybe gobert the way he is playing now, he played well in the world cup in spain.
    I still think that Tony can play, I can't stop thinking about jimmy and his playing time in seasons 1 and 2, he hardly played until deng got injured, so maybe Snell can replace dunleavy next season at the 3 spot. He may be better playing with Rose and Jimmy, those 2 will draw some atention and Tony can fire up from 3

  • This does raise the question of whether a team should draft the best available player or draft for need. In the NFL it is now accepted wisdom to draft the BAP or if you draft for need, move to the spot in the draft where your target fits and recoup value of your slot in the draft. You should never reach with the pick for need. Even the truly idiotic NFL franchises try to do this now.

    I realize the NBA is somewhat different, particularly on a contending team where minutes are pretty sparse, but I still think a BAP philosophy builds more value in the long run. I guess the relevant question is whether the Bulls having drafted one of Plumlee, Dieng or Gobert could have subsequently traded that player for someone of greater ability than Snell. I don't know the answer to that specifically though I suspect the answer is yes.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    I think you must take the best available player given that rookies do not contribute until years 2-3. Now, perhaps you can project a need down the road based on free agents on the Bulls and free agents that could potentially be signed. But, you can't draft on an immediate need. That's for sure.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    100% BAP.

  • All I'm sure of is that for the rest of the career, we will compare Snell to which ever later draft pick has the best career, and say "We could have had that guy!"

    I never liked Hardaway and still don't. He's a chucker. I'd probably rather have Snell than a chucker, even though I agree with hgarbell that Snell will never be more than an 8th man.

  • T-Snell with confidence is another Jimmy Butler. With the experience he's getting defensively against each along with an ability to score against any team he is and has not been your average young player. Having Pippen around him on a few occasions has given this kid who played in high school with SAS Linard an extra advantage. His handle is sound and he knows he can play in the NBA. Given a few pg plays if he has court vision he could develop into an effective point forward.

  • In reply to penwit1:

    Haha Snell as a point forward. Very funny.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    "Haha Snell as an NBA player" - Almost every Bulls fan on Earth, 2 months ago

    Snell has excellent fundamentals when he dribbles, keeping the ball low to the ground, and he does a decent job of keeping the defender away from him with his long arms.

    If he's willing to work as hard on his ball-handling as he has on his shooting and defense, he has a chance. Plus it can't hurt having the greatest point forward ever around the team, I'm sure he could learn a lot from Pippen (who wasn't exactly Magic Johnson when he first came into the league).

    I don't know if it's the one-and-done world we live in or the instant gratification society, but people seem to think a guy who went to college for 3 or 4 years won't get appreciably better once he gets to the NBA.

    All indications are that Snell works very hard, and he needs to look no further than Jimmy Butler to see how much a guy can improve.

    Even Pippen only averaged 3.5 assists in his 2nd year in the league, less than Paxson and Sam Vincent (who were still doing the majority of the ball-handling when MJ didn't have it). Even in his 3rd year, he and Pax averaged the same # of assists/36.

    Snell is no Pippen, but he does still have a lot of room for improvement.

  • In reply to penwit1:

    So if I went to school with Kate Upton or Charlotte McKinney, I'd be a supermodel?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Only if you were on the same high school team with them!

  • I still like Hardaway better, although Dieng, Plumlee or Gobert would have been a better pick. The question is how would Hardaway have looked as a Bull with cement head Thibs giving him limited and inconsistent playing time as he has done with Snell? Thibs would have retarded his development as well. I don't think much of Snell, but I now see that any young player has to be given some benefit of the doubt playing for a coach who hates young players and won't play them until someone gets injured.

    I am still pissed to how little McDermott is playing despite the injuries and how bad Dunleavy has been and with the Bulls losing any way. After getting 13 points in 22 minutes against the Bobcats on Friday, cement head gives him only 5 first half minutes against OKC. Meanwhile, Dunleavy is 1 for 5 in 23 minutes. WTF?

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    I was leaning towards Dieng, or Gorbert. I felt the Bulls needed a backup to Noah at the time.
    Since Hardaway started out playing like a potential, future All Star, and Snell was basically considered a bust up until mid season the easy answer would be Hardaway, but if Snell can hit that shot in the playoffs, Bulls fans will forget about all of the Snell should be traded rumors. Go T. Time!

  • "Snell has improved by leaps and bounds on the defensive end"

    That may or may not be true, but he is still barely an adequate defender on his best days, and really bad on his worst or in a bad matchup with anyone who is quick with the ball in his hands.

    It really seems to me that Bulls fans in general are massively over rating him as a defensive player. The guy looks like he could be a Tony Allen type if he were awake, but he just doesn't seem to have the requisite fire in the belly to be that guy.

  • and then there is this from ESPN about the significance or validity of gross rebounding numbers.

    That should make the abilities of Jordan and Drummond to finish defensive possessions easy to translate statistically. But you can't. Both the Clippers and Pistons have better defensive rebound rates with their star rebounders on the bench. How is that possible?

    This is a big topic, but one possible reason could be the simple fact that neither Jordan nor Drummond is particularly concerned with boxing out. This is something that caught my attention when browsing data from Vantage Sports. According to the tracking data that Vantage compiles, Drummond blocks out on the defensive glass just 5.97 times per 100 opportunities, lowest in the league among centers with at least 500 chances.

    Jordan is a little better at 9.64, but that's still the 11th-lowest total. By contrast, Portland's Robin Lopez blocks out 25.82 times per 100 opportunities, tops in the league. (His brother Brook is second at 22.38.) Indeed, according to, the Blazers are 0.3 percent more efficient on the defensive glass when Lopez is on the floor. Size and athleticism are probably more valuable when searching for rebounders, but good, old-fashioned blocking out might be pretty important too.

    So just like the Bulls with Gasol, the Clips and Pistons have higher rebound rates without their "best" rebounder on the floor, very interesting. Gee, who knew that good old fashioned blocking out might be important, hmmm. Interestingly, I've always thought the Bulls blew it by not pursuing Robin Lopez when he was available for a couple of second round picks, maybe this article captures what I liked about him.

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