Now that the Bears had their draft, the focus is on the Bulls. The NBA draft is 43 days away (June 26). With the Bulls exiting the playoffs early this year, they have plenty of time to look at prospects. One prospect who should look good in a Bulls’ uniform is Adreian Payne.
Payne is a 6’9″, 240 pound forward with a 7-feet wingspan. He comes out of Michigan State. He is a Taj Gibson-type player with a better jump shot. Last season, he shot 52% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc. He averaged 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season.
Payne would be another late first round picks that have worked out well for the Bulls. He played through his senior year, and that experience would almost certainly help him in the same way it helped Gibson.
Defensively, Payne would be perfect in Tom Thibodeau’s system. He is athletic, and can cover a lot of ground. He can also cover multiple positions, from both forward positions to center.
Playing under Tom Izzo at Michigan State, Payne has certainly learned defensive principles.
Should the Bulls go with Taj Gibson as the power forward, Payne would be a good backup. He adds a shooter for a Bulls team that desperately needs it. He also adds efficiency. He was the ninth best per-minute scorer last season.
Payne announced this week that he would skip the NBA Draft Combine, to be held in Chicago on Thursday and Friday. He contracted mononucleosis and is recovering.
In most drafts, Payne would be a top-10 pick. This year’s draft is one of the deepest, however, and his age (23) could hurt him.
It amazes me that 23 is considered old. It is one of the reasons the NBA game has been hurt with some bad play. With most teams looking at drafting the younger kids coming out as freshmen or sophomores, the Bulls have no problems with going after seniors. Those guys come out more mature and understand their game more fully.
If the Bulls keep their picks in the first round (I hope they package both first round picks for a star player), they would be wise to pick Payne. He would add efficiency to the offense from the bench, and he would fit right in with Thibodeau’s defensive philosophy.