John Paxson was hired as the Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations on April 14, 2003. He has seen a couple of rebuilding projects since then. During his tenure the Bulls have made seven playoff appearances, had five winning seasons and have finished with the NBA’s best regular season record twice.
He has often been criticized for not making moves when trades have been on the table. In reality, the Bulls have been a fairly aggressive team during Paxson’s tenure. This year marked Paxson’s tenth draft.
Kirk Hinrich, 7th, 2003
Kirk Hinrich was Paxson’s first draft pick. He was the seventh player taken in a loaded draft. Players drafted before Hinrich included Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade. Heinrich was a big part of the Bulls rebuilding process. He played for the Bulls for seven seasons. His first season, the Bulls regressed by eight games. Heinrich averaged 12.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 6.8 APG and shot 80 percent from the line and 39 percent on three point attempts. He was voted to the NBA All-Rookie first team. He left the Bulls as their all-time leader in three-point field goal attempts and three-pointers made.
Ben Gordon, 3rd, 2004 Draft
After a 23-59 season, the Bulls landed in the lottery for the sixth straight season. Gordon was the third player taken in the 2004 NBA Draft. Gordon was picked behind Dwight Howard and UConn Teammate Emeka Okafor.
He won the NBA’s sixth man award as a rookie and helped the Bulls improve in 2005 from 23 to 47 wins. They won 47 games despite starting the season 0-9. He averaged 15.1 PPG as a rookie as the Bulls made their first postseason appearance in the post Jordan Era.
During his Bulls tenure, Gordon averaged over 20 points twice. They made four playoff appearances in his five seasons. He left after the 2009 season to sign a lucrative contract with Detroit.
Luol Deng, 7th, 2004
The Bulls acquired Deng in a draft day deal with Phoenix. According to Bulls.Com, the Bulls The Bulls gave up future first round pick, their second round pick in the 2004 Draft and an undisclosed amount of cash. Phoenix eventually traded that pick to New York who selected Nate Robinson 21st in 2005.
Deng immediately helped the Bulls. Teaming with Hinrich and Gordon, the Bulls had a sold nucleus and won 47 games in 2005. After taking a 2-0 lead, the Bulls lost in six games. Deng missed the playoffs with wrist surgery. Teammate Eddy Curry also has to sit out the playoffs with heart problems. They have made seven playoff appearances in that time, twice advancing out of the second round. He has been a part of two Bulls rebuilding jobs.
Deng is the longest tenured Bull. In his eight seasons in Chicago, Deng has averaged 16.0 PPG and 6.4 RPG. He will be a part of the British Olympic team this summer in London and is expected to be the flag bearer.
Chris Duhon 38th overall, Ninth- second round, 2004 .
The 2004 NBA Draft was a great success for the Bulls. They obtained three players that would become a huge part of their core that led them back to respectability. Duhon started 159 games over his four seasons in Chicago. That included 73 starts as a rookie as the Bulls earned their first playoff appearance in six years.
He averaged 5.9 PPG and 4.9 APG as a rookie. His best season in Chicago was his second year. He put up 8.7 PPG and 5.0 APG in his sophomore NBA season. Duhon contributed to the Bulls first playoff series win in nine years in 2007. The Bulls swept the defending champion Miami Heat in the first round.
Duhon became expendable when the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose with the first pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. He has played for the Knicks and Magic since he left Chicago.
Joakim Noah 9th Overall Pick in the 2007 NBA Draft
Joakim Noah came to the Bulls as a two time NCAA Champion at Florida. He was raw offensively, but a great athlete that runs the floor well and a great rebounder and shot blocker. He struggled his first two seasons offensively before he began to blossom in his third season in the Association. His steal and slam against Boston the first round in 2009 in Game Six is one of the Bulls most iconic moments in recent history.
He came to the Bulls as part of the Eddy Curry Knicks trade. He was named to the NBA’s All Defensive Second team in 2011.
Derrick Rose 1st, 2008
The Bulls only had a 1.7 percent chance to land the first pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. After a 33-49 season following three straight playoff appearances, the Bulls were fortunate. They brought the hometown kid back from Memphis. Rose’s tenure in Chicago has been magical in his first four seasons.
He has become arguably the second best player in Bulls history. He is at worst the third best player in Bulls history. As a rookie he won three rookie of the month awards on his way to rookie of the year. Rose tied the rookie record for points in his playoff game with 36 against the defending champion Boston Celtics. Rose also had 11 assists in game 1. The Bulls won Game 1 at Boston 105-103 in overtime. They pushed Boston to the seven games before losing.
He won the NBA MVP award in his third season. He put up 25.0 PPG, 7.7 APG and 4.1 RPG as the Bulls finished with the best record in the NBA for the first time since 1998.
Taj Gibson 26th pick, 2009 NBA Draft
Gibson was drafted with a pick the Bulls acquired from Oklahoma City for Thabo Sefolosha at the trade deadline in 2009. Gibson has been a key bench player for the Bulls for all three of his seasons in Chicago.
He was named to the NBA All-Rookie first time in 2009. That was the second year in a row the Bulls had an all-rookie player. He averaged 9.0 PPG and 7.5 RPG. He played in all 82 games and started 70.
Gibson had his own iconic moment in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami in 2011.
The Bulls have had some interesting moves in the three drafts succeeding Gibson.
They drafted Kevin Seraphin in 2010 and he was traded with Kirk Hinrich to Washington for Vladimir Veremeenko. The Bulls made this trade primarily to clear up cap space for the lucrative 2010 Free Agent class. They were not able to sign the highest level free agents like Lebron James, but they did sign Carlos Boozer.
The 6’9 Power Forward showed some promise in his second season. He averaged 7.9 PPG and 4.9 RPG in just over 20 MPG. Late in the season he busted out for 21 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks as the Wizards upset the Bulls in Chicago.
Norris Cole was the Bulls 28th pick in the 2011 draft. His draft right were sent to Minnesota for the rights to Nikola Mirotic. Mirotic is expected to be 2-3 years away from making it to Chicago. Cole was a key contributor in Miami early in the season. He scored in double figures in five of his first seven games as a rookie.
The Bulls second first round pick in 2011 was Jimmy Butler. Butler never really got a chance to contribute in his rookie season. He was buried on the depth chart behind Luol Deng and Ronnie Brewer. Brewer is not expected to be re-signed for next season. With Derrick Rose out until at least January, the Bulls will need to retool the bench mob. Butler will likely be give a big chance to play early next season.
The Bulls 2012 first round pick Marquis Teague is being projected as a player that could have been a lottery pick if he had stayed one more year. While that is hard to project, he did lead Kentucky to the national championship while running the team. He is not a great shooter, but with Rose out for at least half of next season, Teague is likely going to have to be a key contributor from the beginning of the season.