Tom Thibodeau echoes Gar Forman's Draft comments

On Tuesday, Bulls general manager Gar Forman told reporters that the Bulls will head into this year's NBA Draft (on Thursday) looking for the "best available" player over "needs" and bring in someone with the right "makeup and character."

Wednesday, head coach Tom Thibodeau, who threw out the first pitch before the Cubs-White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field, echoed his general manager's comments.

"We've decided we're going to take the best available (player),"
Thibodeau said to ESPNChicago's Nick Friedell. "There's certain things that we're looking for and we
feel good that we'll be able to get them there.

"You never know what happens until draft night. So
often times towards the end of the first round, there's teams that, if
their guy's not there, they're willing to trade and move and adjust. And
then there's more movement towards the end, so we're ready for
everything. Our scouts and Gar and John (Paxson) have done a great job
preparing for this. And I'm confident that we're going to get somebody
that can help.

"We feel good about the prospects that are there. And we have
a lot of options. We can trade, we can select, and we feel there are
good players in our slots."

Awfully similar to what Forman said to reporters on Tuesday. It isn't what fans want to hear, but it's the right approach heading into Draft night.

The Bulls' late first-rounders (Nos. 28 and 30) probably aren't going to be enough to move into the top 20 in the Draft. And with the lockout looming, the Bulls don't want to take on a massive contract, to the chagrin of some.

When you're drafting so low, sometimes it's better to simply go with the "best available" option over the "need". The Bulls aren't going to fill their need -- many believe it's at shooting guard -- with late first-rounders, though crazier things have happened.

But Thibodeau hasn't completely left out the possibility of a move being made.

"We feel good about the prospects that are there," Thibodeau said. "And we have
a lot of options. We can trade, we can select, and we feel there are
good players in our slots.

"All those scenarios have been talked through. We'll see how
everything unfolds. And of course, as it's coming down to our pick,
we'll be getting calls in, you never know what might happen from that
standpoint. Every possibility has been covered and we're looking forward
to it."

Yes, we'll see how everything unfolds, indeed. While it's unlikely the Bulls get anything done, at least they're keeping the door open to a potential move.

Bulls guard C.J. Watson, however, doesn't believe a move (via trade or free agency) needs to be made.

"No, I don't think so. I still think we had [the Heat] beat and we
could have beat them, but with the team we have, I think we just have to
grow
together," Watson said in a phone interview from his offseason home in Las Vegas, Nevada. "It was our first year [together], so just got to let
us gel a little
more."

The Bulls might be in Watson's camp of thinking. In theory, these young Bulls should continue to grow and improve next season, learning from their mistakes in the Eastern Conference finals (loss to the Miami Heat). Only time will tell.

Who could the Bulls draft late in the first-round?

Let's take a look at who the Bulls are projected to take in a couple mock drafts.

DraftExpress: No. 28, Richmond's Justin Harper (forward, 6-9, 230 pounds). No. 30, Georgia's Travis Leslie (guard, 6-4, 205 pounds).

NBADraft.net: No. 28, Duke's Kyle Singler (forward, 6-9, 228 pounds). No. 30, Cleveland State's Norris Cole (guard, 6-1, 174 pounds).

Clearly not the sexiest names, but that shouldn't go as a surprise, especially when the Bulls are drafting so late in a Draft many view as weak. After the top 15 to 18 (if not top 10), the talent drops off considerably.

One name to keep an eye on is JaJuan Johnson, the 6-10, 221-pound forward from Purdue.

Johnson, 22, averaged 20 and a half points, nine rebounds and two blocks in his final season with the Boilermakers. He's shown the ability to spread the floor and step out beyond the arc, knocking down 15 of 51 three-pointers in his fourth season at Purdue after attempting nine threes in his first three seasons. Not a great ratio, but it's a work in progress.

He would be an intriguing, and probably worthwhile, fit in the Bulls' offense. With Derrick Rose's penetration ability, you've got to believe he would get plenty of open looks on the perimeter. Who knows, his might even make Taj Gibson expendable down the road, if anything.

JaJuan Johnson.jpgDraftExpress projects Johnson to go to Charlotte in the second round (No. 39). NBADraft.net projects him to go to Miami in the second round (No. 31) -- a pick behind the Bulls' last first-rounder.

The clock is ticking -- it's going to be a long wait for the Bulls' late first-rounders to come up. Hey, they might make a trade before the picks, though.

Don't count on it. GMGar  Forman thinks they'll keep the picks, as does coach Thibodeau. But they've tried to leave the door open just a little.

Comments

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  • Johnson is the guy who intrigues me if the Bulls don't trade up. I'm glad this team is going with the best available talent approach...drafting for need leads to a lot of reaches. I still remember pulling my hair out when the Bulls took Jason Caffey over Michael Finley about 15 years ago.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Johnson is a real compelling name. He seems to fit right in with the Bulls' offense, with his ability to spread defenses. Who knows, he may even become a solid trade chip down the road or make Gibson expendable.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    ESPNU, ESPNClassic, and CBSsports pre-draft re-aired games all of which included draft picks largely in play. Which was obvoisly no coincidence, and very cool.

    If you are a serious draft freak/actually watch all these guys and study stats like I do this a nice way to finish off the pre-draft scramble for final choices/pulling the proverbial trigger. Just because I put the time in doesn't make me any expert or near so obviously. Just another Bulls fan with an opinion. By the way if you DVR them you can watch these guys/games in no time.

    That said I couldn't agree more with this writer, Shams, that JuJuan Johnson is one to watch. Late bloomers offensively have NBA failure written all over them so many times. But Johnson is an athletic near freak in jumping and quickness while he will have to put on wieght. He flat out has scoring moves/game scoring prolifically on mostly skilled moves/shots aka non-garbage/put back points at 49%. He shot 80% from the line this year. I like him enough to take him at 28 even though he well might be available at 30. Unless as I've said Reggie Jackson falls this is my guy. One other guy I was wrong about who Kevin liked is Tyler Honeycutt. I watched his 30 point assault on Kansas. Though he has moved up on both DraftExpress and NBADraft.net beyond the Bulls reach. But Honeycutt has "belongs in the NBA" written all over him. It's funny in regards to Reggie Jackson the game he scored 30 against N.C. State Danny Ainge sat court side noticably salivating.

  • In reply to MikeKeane:

    I project the Bulls to take Honeycutt at No. 28; Johnson No. 30.

    Johnson has very solid, polished offensive skills. He'd fit right it, possibly even make Taj expendable down the road.

  • Give me 2 of these guys and I would be very happy with our draft....

    Justin Harper Richmond 6'10 SF/PF stretch 4
    Nikola Mirotic 6'10 SF/PF Lottery Talent will stay overseas
    Jeremy Tyler 6'10 PF/C Could have been Lottery talent,has potential
    Iman Shumpert 6'5 PG/SG Great defense an handle
    Nolan Smith 6'2 PG/SG Dont really want him,think Watson will be ok, but he is solid
    JuJaun Johnson 6'10 PF Looks like Taj Gibson 2.0 possibly

  • In reply to Csharp:

    Tyler has a little bit of talent, though everything we've heard lately leads to believe he has maturity issues and his skills aren't polished.

    The rest seem fine -- we'll see. It's going to be very interesting. JaJuan Johnson is one guy to really keep an eye on.

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