The Chicago Bulls have been right in the thick of all NBA things during this off-season.
Between trying to rid themselves of Carlos Boozer‘s $16.8 million on their books for the 2014-2015 season and attempting to bring in New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, the Bulls’ to-do list is a mile long with endless possibilities.
Thursday night is the 2014 NBA Draft in New York and the Bulls possess the 16th, 19th and 49th picks. Although the Bulls most likely won’t keep all three selections within the organization, let’s take a look at who the Bulls could select with each pick:
No. 16 – Elfrid Payton, PG/SG, Louisiana-Lafayette
I completely agree with ESPN NBA Draft insider Chad Ford on his analysis of Louisiana-Lafayette guard Elfrid Payton. In terms of sleepers, Payton could be the best one of the draft.
In 32 games played during his junior year with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Payton averaged 19.3 points per game, 6.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and logged a 24.4 player efficiency rating.
Although it’s pretty likely Payton won’t be available for the Bulls at 16, the Bulls could luck out and Payton could slip through to them.
Payton has great size for the modern-day NBA point guard at 6’4″. I branch Payton off in the Damian Lillard-Derrick Rose tree. Payton comes a from a small school in Louisiana-Lafayette and not many heard of him until the draft hype grew (Lillard was drafted 6th overall by Portland in 2012 out of Weber State).
I see Derrick Rose in Payton’s game too. Payton attacks the rim at will in transition like Rose. Like Rose, Payton’s perimeter shot needs work.
The thing that makes Payton a great selection for the Bulls at 16 is his on-ball defense. Payton is a bulldog when guarding the ball.
DraftExpress raved about Payton’s on-ball defense:
Perhaps Payton’s most attractive and likely also his most NBA-ready skill is his defense. He takes great pride in his work here, showing a high intensity level and extremely quick feet laterally, which allow him to get over the top of screens, and also stay in front of opponents on the perimeter. Payton has long arms, big hands and solid anticipation skills, which shows up in his ability to get in the passing lanes.
Whoever takes Payton on Thursday night will be getting a future gem in the NBA. The 20-year-old is a future star and a valuable asset to any organization.
No. 19 – T.J. Warren, SF/PF, North Carolina State University
T.J. Warren was the best college scorer not named Doug McDermott last season. Warren might have been the best player that most fans hadn’t heard of.
In 35 games for the Wolfpack, Warren averaged 24.9 points per game with a 31.7 player efficiency rating. Only McDermott and Auburn’s Antoine Mason averaged more points per game.
In basketball terms, Warren was a “bucket-getter”. Warren scored 30+ points nine times last season, including two games in March where he logged back-to-back 40-point games.
Warren was an offensive juggernaut in the college ranks. His mid-range game was one of the best in the country and his underrated ability to score around the rim really captured scout’s attention, along with a weight adjustment.
After coming into N.C. State around 235-240 pounds, Warren played last season at around 218 pounds.
Warren won’t wow you from the three-point line or on the defensive end, but he does a great job of putting himself in great positions to score.
Yes, the Bulls need perimeter scoring and yes, Warren shot 29.5% from three last season. But at 6’8″, 220 pounds, Warren’s unorthodox offensive game can be useful to a Bulls team that was the scoring team in the NBA last year at 93.7 points per game.
No. 49 – Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Delware 87ers (NBDL)
Sure, not too many second-round selections become NBA superstars, but not many have intrigue like the older brother of the “Greek Freak”.
21-year-old Thanasis Antetokounmpo vied to playing the NBA D-League instead of playing in his home country of Greece.
Sure, his game is one giant project, but the move to America was a good one for Antetokounmpo. NBA personnel have been able to actually see him in action more than his brother, Giannis.
Both Antetokounmpos have a high ceiling and loads of potential, size and athleticism. If Thanasis is anything like his brother, the future could be bright for an organization that gives the kid a shot.
Thanasis is 6’6″, 205, so he’s shorter than his baby brother, but has a seven-foot wingspan to go along with a 39.5″ vertical leap.
In 50 games for Delaware, Antetokounmpo averaged about 12 points per game while shooting almost 47% from the floor.
Like I mentioned earlier, Thanasis is more of a project that a useful, right-away pick. He has elite athleticism like Giannis and can believe a viable NBA player in a handful of years.
Other viable options for the Bulls:
No. 16: Gary Harris (Michigan State), Rodney Hood (Duke) and Zach LaVine (UCLA)
No. 19: Adreian Payne (Michigan State), P.J. Hairston (UNC/NBDL) and Tyler Ennis (Syracuse)
No. 49: DeAndre Daniels (UConn), Deonte Burton (Nevada) and Johnny O’Bryant III (LSU)