The NBA Draft is a significant event for the Chicago Bulls. The ability to successfully sift through the prospects to find that gem who can come onto the team and provide an instant impact as at least a solid role player is vital, especially for teams pressed for cap space with perennial late round draft picks. Since taking the job in 2009, general manager Gar Foreman has experienced a good deal of success finding those gems, having only been wrong about James Johnson (though he was eventually flipped into a pick that would turn out to be Nikola Mirotic). The Bulls hope to find success once again. According to mock drafts and various rumors, the following are players the Bulls may end up drafting in the first round to fill their need for a backup center
With the 20th pick in the Draft, the Chicago Bulls select…
Thomas Robinson- Houston Rockets:
Ok. Thomas Robinson is already in the NBA already. I know. But the new rumor coming from ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chad Ford indicate that the Houston Rockets are shopping Thomas Robinson to clear up cap space to sign Dwight Howard and the Chicago Bulls are an interested party. The supposed deal would send the 20th pick to the Rockets and the Bulls would absorb Robinson’s contract into Kyle Korver’s traded player exception. However, according to Ford and Stein, the Bulls would be looking to further trade Thomas Robinson immediately. Whether this deal happens or not is anyone’s guess at the moment, but we’ll know for sure within 24 hours.
Gorgui Dieng- Louisville
A fair number of mock drafts across the internet have Dieng falling to the Bulls and, should Chicago be so lucky, he is the man to take. Dieng’s ability to protect the rim, his perimeter defense (especially in pick and roll situations), and rebounding are all very strong. Offensively he’s not the most prolific scorer, but he has solid fundamental play and footwork with his back to the hoop and is able to hit midrange jumpers with some consistency. What’s more is that Dieng acts as the perfect complement to Taj Gibson. A lineup of Dieng and Gibson can flourish on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Gibson can go to work in the paint (where he converts 60% of opportunities) while Dieng can take on a Carlos Boozer-like role by taking mid-range jumpers. Defensively, Dieng can protect the paint thus allowing Gibson to defend midrange jumpers.
There are some concerns that at the age of 23 Dieng may have reached his ceiling, but in the right system and around the right players Dieng could grow into a solid role player. In Chicago, Tom Thibodeau’s system more than favors Dieng’s strengths while Dieng can grow as a defender under the guidance of Joakim Noah and as a shooter under the guidance of Carlos Boozer.
Mason Plumlee- Duke
Mason Plumlee is one of the players rumored to be on Chicago’s shortlist of draft prospects. Plumlee isn’t the greatest of all the big men in the draft and definitely has areas he can improve in, but with time he could prove to be a solid pick at 20. Defensively Plumlee is an above-average defender who could step into the backup role and make things difficult in the paint for opponents. He’s not a prolific shot blocker and his lateral quickness isn’t great but his size, footwork, and strong help defense make up for those weaknesses. Offensively Plumlee’s strengths lie in the fact that he is strong passing out of the post, is good at setting perimeter screens in pick-and-roll situations, and grabbing offensive rebounds. However, he does have a good deal of room to improve in terms of shooting and playing with his back to the basket, though he has improved a bit over the past year.
Mike Muscala- Bucknell
Muscala hasn’t been listed as a player the Bulls may take with the 20th pick, but should the Bulls trade for Thomas Robinson then deal him for a lower first round pick and some assets, the Bulls could feasibly go with Muscala as a first round choice. In his years of college basketball, Muscala has shown he is a smart player who rarely makes bad decisions. In his years at Bucknell, he knows what passes to make, rarely dribbles into traffic or double teams, and anticipates when to rotate to help on defense. Offensively he’s a solid rebounder, has improved in his post game and can finish with both hands, and has developed a fairly consistent jump shot from up to 18 feet out, a nice little compliment to Taj Gibson. Defensively he’s a solid pick-and-roll defender, has consistently shown he has the ability to make opponents alter their shot in the paint, and is a strong rebounder. His lack of athleticism and affinity to play a slower pace shouldn’t be too much of a factor as Muscala would fit in nicely with Chicago’s slower paced half-court offense. Muscala’s abilities and numbers from his college days may be slightly exaggerated as he played in a weaker conference in college, however should Chicago trade down in the draft, he could prove to be a decent value pick.