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
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.
Ask Sam Smith
The draft is two weeks away and Sam and his readers can't wait
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