Don’t forget About Luol on Taj on Bulls Front Line

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The biggest Chicago Bulls stories this NBA preseason have revolved around their bigs: the possibility of trading/and later the signing of Joakim Noah and the injury to splashy offseason acquisition Carlos Boozer.

This has taken attention away from the other solid, if not spectacular players on Chicago’s front line: small forward Luol Deng, the man with the most absurdly expensive contract in team history, and second year man Taj Gibson, who will start at the four again, at least until Boozer gets back.

Both the Boozer and Noah stories are essentially non-stories. Booze gets hurt every season and seems to miss 20 games every year. He’s just getting it out of the way early this season. And for all the Noah trade rumors- he’s still here and likely will be for awhile.

That said, let’s look at the forwards who avoided the limelight this preseason.

By Paul M. Banks

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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.