Chicago Bulls: 2017 NBA Draft grades
The Chicago Bulls had the 16th and 38th overall picks heading into the 2017 NBA Draft. Here is a look at how they did.
The 2016-17 Chicago Bulls was a team of misfits to say the least. Sure they had a formidable one-two punch in Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade, but just about everything else was a crap shoot, to put it nicely.
Not only was there dissension among the veterans and younger players, the Bulls were wildly inconsistent to say the least. Based on those factors, it’s easy to see why they finished with a mediocre 41-41 record.
Following their six-game loss to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, it became clear the Bulls need to improve in several areas — the most important of which had to do with adding a wing player to the mix. Next, a backup point guard was sorely needed after the offense came to a halt when Rajon Rondo went down with a thumb injury after Game 2.
Last, but certainly not least, the Bulls definitely needed more athleticism at the wing spot. Did they accomplish these goals in this year’s draft?
Here is a look at each decision the Bulls made on draft night and what it could mean for the future.
Bulls deal Jimmy Butler to Minnesota Timberwolves
It is no secret that Jimmy Butler has been the subject of trade rumors over the last couple of seasons. And while general manager John Paxson stated a couple of weeks ago that the team was not shopping Butler, that narrative changed on draft night.
As first reported by ESPN‘s Marc Stein, the Bulls sent the three-time All-Star to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick in 2017 NBA Draft, which turned into Lauri Markkanen from Arizona.
Additionally, as reported by ESPN‘s Brian Windhorst, the Bulls also packaged their No. 16 overall pick to Minnesota as part of the deal.
Here is what a few of the experts had to say about this blockbuster deal.
You traded Butler for a 23-year old PG that can’t shoot, and a 22-year old guard that relies on his athleticism coming off a torn ACL.
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) June 22, 2017
They’re going to win 18 games next year https://t.co/7v3ZGzqwgu
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) June 23, 2017
I don’t really know what the Bulls are doing, fam
— Chris Herring (@Herring_NBA) June 23, 2017
For the diehard Bulls fans, you’re probably scratching your head right about now. Sure, LaVine is an up-and-coming player who averaged close to 19 points per contest in 47 games for Minnesota in 2016-17. On the flip side of that coin, he is also rehabbing an ACL injury and there is a chance he may not be ready for the start of next season.
As far as Dunn is concerned, the Bulls wanted to select him in the 2016 NBA Draft. So in that sense, they got the player they wanted a year later. However, Dunn had an underwhelming season with the Timberwolves last season, as he averaged just 3.8 points, 2.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds per outing.
On top of that, Dunn connected on just 28.8 percent of his attempts from three-point range. Even more important, the Bulls already have a plethora of point guards on the roster right now, so it is rather questionable why they would add another one to the mix.
In other words, the Bulls should have held out for more, or kept Butler in the fold.
Final Grade: D-
No. 7 — Lauri Markkanen
Coming into the draft, one of the needs the Bulls needed to address was long-distance shooting.
Why, you ask?
Well, they dealt away their best three-point shooter in Doug McDermott prior to the February trade deadline. Secondly, the team finished 24th in this category in 2016-17.
Having said that, adding a shot maker to the mix was of high importance for the Bulls. As part of the Butler trade, the Bulls acquired the No. 7 pick — Lauri Markkanen from the University of Arizona.
Markkanen averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per outing in his lone season with the Wildcats. Additionally, he knocked down 42 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, making him one of the top shooters in the draft.
The other side of this story is Markkanen has a lot of shortcomings from a defensive standpoint. Despite standing at 7’0″, he averaged just 0.5 blocks per contest and has a difficult time holding his position when trying to box out opposing players.
Even if Markkanen does improve that part of his game, this is a bad deal for the Bulls.
Final Grade: C
So to recap, the Bulls opted to move toward a rebuild rather than keeping their team intact. They did so by trading a three-time All-Star who has increased his scoring output in every year he’s been in the league, and who posted career-highs across the board — 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.9 steals per contest.
In return, they received LaVine — who was playing well for Minnesota last season, but is currently working his way back from a knee injury. Included in the deal was Dunn, a younger point guard who the Bulls coveted in last year’s draft.
Unfortunately, his numbers don’t exactly jump off the stat sheet. Furthermore, how will the Bulls utilize him among the rest of the point guards on the roster?
To cap off a rather strange draft night for the organization, the Bulls included their 16th overall pick as part of the Butler deal and they also sold their 38th overall pick — Jordan Bell — to the Golden State Warriors.
If the WARRIORS are offering you a ton of money for a pick to get a player, maybe think about what you’re doing?
— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) June 23, 2017
It is possible that LaVine bounces back quite nicely from his injury. It is also possible that Dunn becomes the player who will eventually replace Rondo as the starting point guard.
And maybe, just maybe, Markkanen becomes a solid fixture in the rotation at some point.
Even if all those scenarios hold true — which is a big IF by the way — the Bulls should have held out for more considering that Butler was the team’s best all-around player.
Final Grade: D