Two more weeks to go to find out who is right. This is the way I often view the draft: I'm right; it's just the teams who made the mistakes. This one is tougher, and you'll see through some of the questions. I count a half dozen different No. 1 picks, and every one says the Bulls will have made a huge mistake if they don't pick their guy. I'll admit, I'm not sure how to go since I think LaMarcus Aldridge, Tyrus Thomas or Brandon Roy would make sense. I'm not a big backer of Andrea Bargnani, mostly because I've never seen him play and I am curious about how Adam Morrison will make it at the next level. Hey, how 'bout me with the "next level" cliché? In a few weeks, someone will be able to say, "See, I was right!" The questions...
I am 23, and during my lifetime only six teams have won the NBA title. Six!!! That truly differentiates the NBA from the other major sport leagues. Is this simply a fluke or does it speak to the quality of ownership and management of the Lakers, Bulls, Pistons, Celtics, Rockets and Spurs? --George, Chicago
Heck, when I was 23 I think only the Boston Celtics had won the NBA title. Or it seemed that way. Seeing Red Auerbach with that miserable cigar every spring was almost the best anti-smoking campaign ever. And when you get to 23, I know you spend a lot of time looking back on your life. Get ready to enjoy the rest of it--at least with more champions. It looks like Dallas is on the way to its first and I doubt I'd see them as favorites next season. I think we're about to embark on a 1970s-like era, without the high heeled disco shoes and drug availability, of perhaps a dozen teams every season with a chance to go to the Finals. That's because there is no more colossus. Shaq is fading away, and there are no super teams. The best I've seen in this playoffs is the Spurs, and they didn't make to the conference finals. The Suns could be something if Amare Stoudemire gets back at full strength, but I think the East is wide open with the Pistons coming back to the pack in everything but complaining. They proved champions at that.
Do you see any similarities between Villanova's Randy Foye and Dwyane Wade? --JB, Chicago
A four-letter last name. Foye is said to be more of a combo guard like Ben Gordon, though not quite the shooter.
Sam, you seem to lump LaMarcus Aldridge in with the big men projects, but do you really think that's the case? How do you define "project"? I think Aldridge is polished enough to give the Bulls 10-12 ppg and 6 rpg next year, and 15 and 8 by his second season. While he wouldn't be considered an above-average starter as a rookie, he would be an upgrade from what we have now, and would not be far off from being an above-average starter in the league. Aldridge has a pretty good NBA body, can step out and hit the outside shot and has some nice post moves. He seems way more prepared than most big men coming out of college these days. --Andrew, Chicago
I can't disagree with your analysis. But "project" suggests not being quite ready. It tends to take big men longer to adjust to the NBA, and Aldridge's body hasn't filled out yet. It's got to catch up with his skills. You have the point right about this draft. There's no Tim Duncan there, but aren't these guys better than Malik Allen and Othella Harrington? Right now! And the Bulls came on strong with them. Given that these guys will improve, they should give help right away and because of size and length give the team room for growth.
What would it take to get Elton Brand back from the Clippers? Both draft picks, Tyson Chandler and Ben Gordon? --Devin Hapsburg, Skokie, Ill.
Move on. The rest of us have.
Trade the No. 2 pick for Mike Bibby then in free agency go after Al Harrington, Reggie Evans, Drew Gooden, DerMarr Johnson, Ben Wallace and even Latrell Sprewell. Spree will be a good addition because like Sam Cassell he will be out to prove that he can still play the game. --Nemy Cunanan, Anaheim, Calif.
Nah, I wouldn't count on Sprewell, though he always has been known as a good teammate. You get the feeling, though, he isn't that reliable since no one was able to find him last year. Gooden and Wallace are possibilities. Wallace is interesting because I think you could get him, but you'd probably have to overpay and I'd wonder about his motivation at this stage of his career. As for Bibby, I'm not a big fan. He does run a clever pick and roll, but his defense is atrocious and I think Kirk Hinrich is a much better all-around point guard right now.
Are the Bulls thinking about Drew Gooden? He might just be the big guy they need and then they can draft Brandon Roy with the draft pick. Is there any chance of getting Dee Brown or James Augustine in the draft? Has there been talk of the Suns trading Shawn Marion to the Bulls and can the Bulls get Dirk as a free agent in 2007? --Shawn Philip, Des Plaines, Ill.
To summarize, it's likely Gooden will be one free agent they'll seriously look at if they don't trade for a big man. I can't see Brown because they've filled the league mandated quota on small guards, but Augustine would fit the way they like to play. Forget Dirk. Why leave such a great situation? I've been in Dallas for the Finals and his jersey was by far the most popular. I never thought I'd see so many Texans wearing the jersey of a German star, and they even pronounce his name correctly. As for Marion, they say they're keeping him, but I think it's just until they find out if Stoudemire is fit to return at a high level. The Bulls probably would inquire if there's a chance to get him.
Do you feel that Ben Gordon will take it lightly if the Bulls draft Brandon Roy and give him a chance to start over Gordon? Could a better fit be keeping Chris Duhon who is more likely to be OK with not starting and can play both guard spots? Then look for a bigger name by trading Gordon, like to New York, who has wanted him for sometime now. If so I feel the only player on the Knicks worth anything is Channing Frye. --Jason K., Peoria, Ill.
That's one of the most interesting questions about the draft. I believe Ben is a professional and team player, but I know he believes he's a starter and is coming up on a contract year. And I know he'd want to start in that circumstance. Watching the Mavs and Jason Terry suggests you can get away with a small shooting guard, though it's not the perfect way to go. If the Bulls were to draft Roy, I don't think they'd start him right away and see if he could beat out Ben. It could prove somewhat uncomfortable. As for the Knicks, I think the two teams are done dealing.
The Bulls need to draft Tyrus Thomas. Period. End of story. I'm convinced he instantly upgrades the Bulls frontcourt, regardless of his youth. LaMarcus Aldridge might be good, but he disappeared in too many games last year and the last thing the Bulls need is another soft player. Brandon Roy has a complete game, fills the Bulls' need for a tall guard, and I would be happy if the Bulls landed him, but here is why Thomas is the only choice. The backcourt and offense is predicated on screens with high pick and rolls for their guards. But the Bulls have absolutely no one capable of the "roll" part. How many times did Chandler set a high screen for Hinrich, roll to the basket wide open and receive a perfect pass from Hinrich, only to have it carom off his puny hands? Opponents soon realize the big men are stiffs who pose zero offensive threat, and begin to jump the screens to double the guards. This strategy was never more evident than in the final games of the Bulls first-round playoff loss to the Heat. Heat players swarmed Hinrich, Gordon, etc. into working much harder than they had to for open shots off screens. Now with Tyrus Thomas setting the high screen and rolling, I see the Eastern Conference answer to the Nash-Stoudamire (remember last season?) combo, with Thomas sending down thunderous dunk after dunk from Hinrich's precision passes. Who cares if Thomas' outside shot needs to improve? It will. Factor in his rebounding and shot blocking on defense, I can't see how the Bulls can afford NOT to take him. --Matt C., Chicago
John Paxson, is that you? I think Paxson looks at Thomas that way as well and envisions an imposing, athletic defensive front with Thomas and Chandler and a player in Thomas who can develop more offensively. It's why I believe this pick will be so difficult. I'm higher on Thomas than some and see the athletic possibilities.
With all the talk of how the Bulls need a big guard, I can't help but think how huge Tim Thomas could have been for them this past year. Now, I know in practice he probably made Scott Skiles nostalgic for Jalen Rose, and I know the Suns' system is a better fit for players who don't like to run sets or play defense, but tell me the Bulls would have won fewer games with him on the floor? Shouldn't the mark of a great coach be the ability to come up with ways to blend diverse talents and personalities? The Bulls did this once before, with the Worm. As with bar mitzvah parties, it's nice to have a theme, but I think the Bulls are ultimately going to trip over their "hard-nosed hard worker" mold if they can't figure out how to be a little flexible. --Walt, Washington, D.C.
A little chicken soup for the soul, eh? I understand that, but I happen to agree with them on Thomas even if I probably would have had him hang around somewhat longer. Though it's not likely it would have helped much. Tim is not a bad guy. But sometimes there's just not a fit. The Tim Thomas we saw in the playoffs would not have been the Thomas in Chicago. I agree they knew how to handle him better than the Bulls did, but the Bulls' methods are working so far. The failing will be if players begin to leave. No one yet has demonstrated they will.
Being in Dallas, Avery Johnson seems a lot like Skiles to me. He's tough on the players and prides himself on not being a friend and not being afraid to go after them. In this NBA, I think you need respect first and to show you are knowledgeable and stand for something. The Bulls allowed too much to slip in the past. It's about winning in sports. Larry Brown was too tough in Detroit and then Flip Saunders was too easy, but then Brown was too tough in New York. It's difficult to maintain. I like the way the Bulls play and respond to their coach. He may not be perfect, but he's got a lot more going for him than most around the league now. So you have to put up with a few eccentricities.
Here´s one more: Trading Chandler and Duhon for Toronto´s first pick and, off the top of my head, Alvin Williams (or someone to balance the salaries. At least he is a tall guard). This way we could end this freaking dilemma about Thomas or Aldridge. Let´s get both and have even more salary space to re-sign our rookies and hopefully to get some decent free agent next year. This way we could have a young player at every position and will be able to get a proven veteran next year in the position we may need the most. --Nicolás, Mar del Plata, Argentina
Nice wish, but Chandler doesn't get you a No. 1 pick the way he struggled last season. He has value, but not that high for now. Though I apologize for the way the Bulls' lack of certainty is upsetting the daily routine in South America.
The more I look at this offseason the more I'm convinced the Bulls are going to draft Brandon Roy. It's clear the Bulls need a big 2 guard and a 4 or a 5. There doesn't appear to be many options for a 2 in free agency, and a trade for one will be too costly. I do think there are better options in free agency for the 4 or 5. I know you like Joel Przybilla, but I think they need to get more athletic in the front court. The guy I like is Chris Wilcox. I originally heard that Seattle wants to re-sign him but a significant offer could put Seattle in a bind. --Jeff, Libertyville, Ill.
Not sure where the Bulls stand on Wilcox, though it's always a risk to go for a guy who had one good season and in his free-agent year. Anyone remember Eddie Robinson? I think Roy is in the mix, but I also think with the money they have that they have a shot at two big guys in free agency, maybe even Przybilla or Nazr Mohammed and someone like Drew Gooden or Nene.
I just viewed some Bagnani highlights. Just from the clips, it's obvious the kid is the real deal. I say if Toronto does something that causes Tyrus Thomas to go No. 1, the Bulls should take Bagnani over Aldridge. Bagnani would create big-time matchup problems with opponents and he plays defense. --Roscoe, Chicago
You have the advantage on me and I may be wrong in the long run, but I think the Bulls need someone more sure for now and someone to play inside more than Bargnani, who, from what I hear, is more a perimeter scorer. I know Nowitzki has been terrific, and if he were in the draft I'd take him, but I'm always a little leery about the international guys because of the level of competition since the NBA has strip mined Europe. I know the games are shorter, but he averaged about 11 points and I heard he had a single figure tournament game recently. I'm not saying he won't be a player. And we'd all love to have Ginobili, but I prefer better what I see here more often.
In order to justify his status as the No. 2 overall pick, a player must be his team's go-to guy and have taken them somewhere. When Joakim Noah opted out of the draft the only two players remaining in the projected Top 10 to meet these criteria are Brandon Roy and Adam Morrison. Some say Roy would fill a Bulls' need for a big defensive guard. I guess the thinking is that with a bigger guard, the Bulls could go from being the best defensive team in the NBA to the best BEST defensive team.Take the best player available: Adam Morrison. Yes, the Bulls are crowded with second-tier talent at small forward but that only means they need to trade those players. Let's not forget that the talk all year was that the Bulls lacked a go-to guy that would force the opponent into double teams. Adam Morrison is the only player in the draft who can do this. --Alec Leamus, Glenview, Ill.
And as my mother would say when I had a suggestion, "Another county heard from." She didn't usually like them. I like your analysis, even if I wouldn't go for him. To me it would mean trading Luol Deng. Perhaps if you could get a good big man for him, but I doubt it. Yes, I'd pick the best player available no matter the position if he were truly great, but there are too many questions about Morrison regarding other parts of his game. He may well be a big-time scorer and he does have an interesting attitude, but I don't see him taking over the NBA the way he did in college in a small conference. Send this back to me if he becomes the next Jordan.
Sam, I solved the draft problem. The Bulls need an inside presence. So we take LaMarcus Aldridge with the second pick. He has a polished post game and will open up the floor for our shooters and also provide a nice contrast to Tyson's no 'O' game. The only knock on him is his softness, but I think if anyone can, Skiles will toughen him up. This is not the time to take a "sexy" pick with a high ceiling like Tyrus Thomas, and have to wait a couple years for him to develop and get a post game. Let's remember we are one big man and one big defensive guard away from making a LOT OF NOISE next year. With the 16th pick we take Ronnie Brewer. The kid can flat out play. He has great intensity and skill on 'D', and is a 6-7 guy who can play SG and even run the point if need be. In addition, he is an athletic slasher with great court vision. These are all things that the Bulls need. Projections show he will be taken around the 10th pick so we may need to trade up to get him. Would a couple of second-rounders or maybe Michael Sweetney, along with our 16th, do the trick? Probably. This should be considered if he is still available around the 10th pick. --Josh Hendon, Normal, Ill.
The Bulls might be able to get to 10 or so with Duhon, whom some teams like and is not a long-term fit for the Bulls with Hinrich there. So maybe. I'm enjoying the debate and have been impressed with the analysis of the fans. Too often fans are taken for granted about their knowledge of the game, but it's been impressive to read the different scenarios. It's why I'm including so many this week. Also because of the great variety of certain opinion. I think Skiles would love to get at Aldridge because Aldridge is considered a willing student and hard worker. I've liked Brewer because he defends even if the Bulls wonder about his shooting.
So much is made of how the Bulls need a big guard or a big man to get to the next level. You mention Brandon Roy as an emerging favorite, a solid guard who can contribute right away, or Tyrus Thomas, a 6-9 athletic power forward. However, I think the last thing the Bulls need is another "solid" player. The Bulls are stocked with solid players, what they need is an impact player. That is their most glaring need. Draft the BEST player available regardless of position, take a chance. Rudy Gay has the potential to be a superstar in this league. Forget the criticisms, he has size at 6-9, has the athleticism and offensive polish as a guard, works hard and has a good head on his shoulders. He is the same size as Tyrus Thomas, but with twice the skill and talent! Gay could play alongside Nocioni. This makes Deng expendable, use him to trade for a big guard, maybe Mickael Pietrus. --Alex, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Gay is the most interesting because I rarely hear of him in the top five, though everyone tells me he has the talent to be a star. I think he scares off the Bulls with a reputation for indifference toward the game. But I suspect they'll do their due diligence and find out for themselves. But this does fill out the requests with now a sixth potential overall No. 1 pick. And I keep getting people telling me the Bulls should take Shelden Williams. Hey, Josh Howard wouldn't be a bad No. 1 and he was picked No. 29. You get the feeling in this draft the best player could come from anywhere.
I think way too much stress is put on individual positions when people address this draft. For instance, we need a big 2 that can guard taller guards so Kirk Hinrich doesn't have to. When we do this, I think we are seriously limiting our drafting options. However, I don't think Paxson does this, so I'm not worried. I don't think Rudy Gay or Adam Morrison should be overlooked at this position simply because they play the 3, and its our deepest position. The reality is that the game is not as regimented as the common fan believes it is. I think both players would be able to play the 2, and I also think that Deng has that potential. So don't be surprised if Pax falls in love with a Gay or Morrison, and drafts them despite their typical position of small forward. I personally would like to see such a move because the Bulls need another scoring option as much as they need size. --Kevin Carroll, Chicago
The game is changing and you see it with the Suns, who look for players to play multiple positions. The impact of the big man is being negated in front of our eyes in the Finals with Dallas' length and quickness neutralizing Shaq. I think it will continue to make for better basketball and more wide-open competition for years to come. Though it has been the plan of the Atlanta Hawks with a team filled with 6-8 guys who are winning 20 games.
What about trading Ben Gordon and the No. 16 pick to Charlotte, Portland or Atlanta for their first pick? That would allow the Bulls to get Thomas and probably Roy and then sign one of the big men in free agency. Unrealistic? --Kurt Hendricks, Rockford, Ill.
I know Charlotte has had an interest in Ben, but I think those teams are intrigued with guys like Morrison and probably will stay in the draft.
I may be talking out of my rear end because I live in California now and don't get to watch my beloved Bulls much, but I actually like our guard combination the way it is now. I know they're small, but the 3 spot is another guard anyway, and we've got Deng and Nocioni there. My point is, the Bulls should draft Tyrus Thomas--the current NBA doesn't have much use for a back-to-the-basket big man unless he's completely dominant. We could use Thomas' defense and athleticism more than anything Aldridge can bring. Draft Tyrus!!! --Matthew Anderson, Pasadena, Calif.
Glad you understand what living in California means, but it's a reasonable suggestion and I believe high on the Bulls' list.
I hate to bash fellow Bulls fans, but anyone who says Roy is the pick at No. 2 is just dumb. Why is no one talking about Ronnie Brewer or Quincy Douby? I would love them with the 16th pick. Brewer will be the most versatile player in the draft. --Jon, Gurnee, Ill.
That's probably too high for Brewer and the Bulls can do much better. Of course, he may be rookie of the year. Douby is another smallish guard and the Bulls have enough of them.
To be continued tomorrow...