NBA Combine in Chicago: Anthony Davis unites local and national interest

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With the NBA Draft Combine rolling through Chicago this week, you probably saw a ton  of very tall young men strolling down Michigan Avenue. Or at least more near-seven-footers than usual; especially on the Magnificent Mile, where the draft combine’s media activities were held.

No doubt the star of this year’s session is Anthony Davis, the Chicago product who dominated for the national champion Kentucky Wildcats. The man with the unibrow took home all the major individual college basketball awards, and will soon go #1 overall to the New Orleans Hornets.

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Chicago Bulls 2011 NBA Draft Preview: Guide to Unknown Knowns, Known Unknowns

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Due to a power outage in Deerfield, IL, the Chicago Bulls will move their NBA Draft headquarters and media event from the Berto Center practice facility to their home game arena the United Center. And due to a shooting/perimeter scoring outage in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls had to move from the NBA postseason to their summer vacation.

It’s very rare that the team with the best regular season record in the NBA has three picks (two in the first round) the following June. And that means the Bulls will almost certainly not add three rookies to next year’s roster meaning they have the luxury of 1.) going after an international product who might not sign 2.) take a chance on a high-risk, high-reward “project.”

With the league lockout ready to grab hold on July 1, this year’s draft is even more mysterious and arcane than your typical draft. More known unknowns, unknown knowns, unknown unknowns and known knowns than usual. Sorry for going Donald Rumsfeldian there- but he did go to high school a stone’s throw from the Bulls practice facility.

Here we’ll mock all three picks and show you some other possibilities.

This is a Paul M. Banks and David Kay collaboration

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What’s Going to Happen with Ben Gordon?

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By Anthony Zilis

Remember those few days after Christmas when you were a kid? The excitement for weeks leading up to the big day was palpable. You could hardly sleep the night before, and then it finally came.

That’s what the days following the NBA Draft are like for me. I’m an NBA Draft fan, plain and simple.

It’s time to get back to reality. After drafting forwards James Johnson and Taj Gibson, the Chicago Bulls have to answer the question of whether they’ll re-sign Ben Gordon. Before I delve into the details, let’s look at how the Bulls’ rotation would shake out without Gordon.

PG – Derrick Rose 38 mpg, Kirk Hinrich 10 mpg

SG – John Salmons 28 mpg, Hinrich 20 mpg

SF – Luol Deng 30 mpg, Salmons 10 mpg, James Johnson or Tyrus Thomas 8 mpg

PF – Thomas 30 mpg, Joakim Noah 10 mpg, Taj Gibson or Johnson 8 mpg

C  – Noah 25 mpg, Brad Miller 23 mpg

So where does Gordon fit in to the equation? The answer, in short, is nowhere. Having Deng back in the lineup moves Salmons, a much bigger, better defender to shooting guard. That would leave Hinrich and hypothetically, Gordon, on the bench left to split playing time at shooting guard.hinrich_getty

Detroit, reportedly is ready to offer Gordon $11 million per year. With Hinrich making an average of $9 million over the next three seasons, it would be unheard of to have two backup guards making over $20 million. Signing Gordon would effectively put the Bulls near the salary cap for next year’s mega-free agency period. Having Gordon would put in jeopardy any chances of the Bulls signing Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, or any other free agents in next year’s class.

The Bulls would most likely, have to trade Hinrich if they re-signed Gordon. With Hinrich on the team, though, the Bulls are saved having to sign a backup point guard. He can score although he isn’t the scorer Gordon is. But Hinrich is a premiere defensive player, and can guard three positions. With Salmons at shooting guard, the Bulls are looking at a much-improved, bigger and better defensive team.

If the Bulls commit to Gordon for five or six years, as they did with Deng, they’ll quickly regret it. And the Deng contract is obviously a regrettable decision.

The popular opinion seems to be that Hinrich is overpaid. Maybe the Bulls should just trade Hinrich and re-sign Gordon. But, crazily enough, having Gordon gone makes the Hinrich contract seem very reasonable.

Yes, $27 million over three years is a lot to pay a backup point guard. But his versatility and ability to play, and guard the shooting guard position makes him worth it. If he can give the Bulls 30 quality minutes per game, this contract seems very reasonable. The numbers are in the ballpark of guards like Jose Calderon, Maurice Williams, TJ Ford, Jamal Crawford, and Jason Terry. Hinrich absolutely belongs in that group.

Just think if he, and not Gordon, was guarding Ray Allen throughout one of the most exciting playoff series in history.

Yes, they would have missed Gordon’s scoring spark, but Allen would have been smothered by Hinrich’s defense. The series wouldn’t have been as exciting, but the Bulls may have actually won. Isn’t that the goal?

If the Bulls re-sign Gordon, they’ll win some exciting games. But when they’re not relying on his streaky scoring to dig them out of holes created by his own bad defense, they’ll probably win more.

So comment below…Do you think the Bulls should re-sign Gordon or trade Hinrich? Does Gordon’s offense make up for his defensive deficiency? What team do you think he’ll go to if he doesn’t re-sign?

Bulls Send Message to Tyrus Thomas in Draft

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By Paul M. Banks

Did the Chicago Bulls send a message to incumbent starting power forward Tyrus Thomas Thursday night by drafting two power forwards? By using both of their first round draft picks on prospects who play the four, the Chicago front office seems to be telling us one of two things. Either a.) Coach Vinny Del Negro, GM Gar Forman and company are unhappy with Thomas (who desperately needs to develop a post move) and are attempting to motivate him, or b.) Ty is being aggressively shopped to other GMs in the league. Maybe we’ll learn more once NBA free agency starts on July 1, when more transactions are like to start happening around the association.

But we can worry about that later, for now let’s focus on who the Bulls did pick up with the 16th and 26th overall picks.


Wake Forest, Forward, James Johnson

In college, Johnson was able to muscle weaker defenders down low while also using his ability to drive and finish. His range from deep leaves plenty of room for improvement, but he did develop a more consistent mid-range game as a sophomore. “We love his versatility he can play the four, he can play the three, he can play inside, he can play outside, at his size 6’8” 250 he can put the ball on the floor, he can rebound and put it out in transition. He’s a very big passer for a big guy,” Forman said to the media present at the Berto Center.

USC, Forward, Taj Gibson

Gibson is already 23 years old and should be able to contribute off the bench right away. He will likely make a living as a professional thanks to his rebounding and shot-blocking ability. 6’10” with a 7’2” wingspan, Gibson had the second longest reach of anyone in this draft. (Only the 7’3” Hasheem Thabeet was longer) “His wingspan was amazing, he’s long, he can block shots in the lane and he has a developing inside-outside game,” Forman said of Gibson on draft night.

Bulls Draft Picks: Budinger, Blair or T Will?

<br /> <a href=”http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/1731785/” mce_href=”http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/1731785/”>Who should the Bulls Draft Thursday Night?</a><span style=”font-size:9px;” mce_style=”font-size:9px;”>(<a href=”http://www.polldaddy.com” mce_href=”http://www.polldaddy.com”>survey software</a>)</span><br /> <br /><br />

By Paul M. Banks

Two Days before the NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls got great news about their small forward depth. Luol Deng, out since Feb 28th with a fractured tibia, started running and looks to make a full recovery without surgery. If only the Bulls’ salary cap space could recover from the massive wound inflicted by Deng’s contract. It will be interesting to see how this news affects the Bulls’ plans. New General Manager Gar Forman will likely use one (or maybe both) of the team’s two first round draft picks on someone who played at least a couple years at a big name program. It’s how former GM and current VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson operates. Here are three candidates fitting that bill.

Arizona’s Chase Budinger

The name value is there and he could potentially be gone when Chicago’s on the board at #16 but more than likely falls into the mid-20s, so maybe the Bulls can grab with their second pick at #26. He likely would have been a lottery pick if he declared after his freshman or sophomore seasons. This past year however, Budinger stock fell like the Dow Jones. Budinger spoke about the meaning and prestige of being drafted high.

“There is some status, but I try to look past that. When they get to the NBA, every rookie is going to be on the same level. Look at a guy like {Orlando Magic F} Courtney Lee, who was picked later. He became starter and he’s getting a lot of minutes on a very good team,” Chase said.

Louisville’s Terrence Williams

One of this draft’s top small forwards, Williams was very candid at the combine about Draft workouts. “Some other players don’t really work out because they feel they’re already secure in a certain spot, and that surprises me because you’d think that people who love basketball would play regardless,” Williams said. He also expressed his love for the idea of playing for the Bulls. When a reporter reminded him how rare that is (a player so honest about wanting to play for a specific team) he didn’t back away from his comments. Will Chicago reciprocate?

Pitt’s DeJuan Blair

He only measured in at 6-6.5 in shoes which is far from the ideal size for an NBA power forward. But his physicality and 7-2 wingspan will help wipe away any doubt teams have about his future productivity. Blair is pretty confident: “I don’t think there was a better offensive rebounder by far in this class at all. There’s something about that ball, I go get it,” he said at the combine.

In addition to his rebounding, NBA Draft aficionados also buzz bout Blair’s astonishing weight loss (40 pounds in three weeks). Blair had a sense of humor about it. “I told my mom about it this morning, she said did you cut off your leg off?” Get ready for the next best-selling book: “The DeJuan Blair Diet.”