Will the Bulls Draft a Backup Point Guard?

bulls_rose_300

By Paul M. Banks

If there’s one position the Chicago Bulls don’t have a pressing need at, it’s point guard. The incumbent starter, Derrick Rose is the only player on the roster even remotely close to developing into a franchise player, and (SAT scandals and gang sign gestures aside) is the guy to build the team around. But the Bulls might see backup Kirk Hinrich move on soon and in today’s NBA, the “Golden Age of Point Guards” that we currently live in, it’s good to have two reliable point guards.

As former UCLA point guard and current draft prospect Darren Collison said at the NBA Draft Combine: “This is the draft you want to be in right now if you’re a point guard. Everyone’s getting so much credit, from Jonny Flynn, to me, to Eric Maynor right on down the list because everyone knows they need point guards to win ballgames, to take that next step. And teams need a first string and a second string the whole game to be solid, and all the point guards in this draft have the potential to do that.”

For teams currently needing a point guard, this crop of prospects is deeper than any draft this decade, possibly all-time. It could produce a couple players with the same impact as current young NBA floor generals Rose, Chris Paul and Deron Williams.

On Tuesday, the Bulls looked at (among others) Maynor, Wake Forest’s Jeff Teague, Greece’s Nick Calathes, St. Joseph’s Tasheed Carr, the 5’6” David Holston from Chicago State and Bryan Mullins from Southern Illinois via Downers Grove High School.

UCLA’s second, and more hyped point guard prospect, Jrue Holiday has also met with the team and expressed a strong interest to join the team at combine media day. However, he should be long picked by the time the Bulls are on the board.

bullscourt

Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn, one of the hottest point guard prospects around, figures to likely be gone by the time the Bulls pick at #16 on June 25th, and long gone when the Bulls pick again at #26. However, he worked out for the Bulls, met with the front office and was extremely vocal about his desire to play for the Bulls at the NBA Draft Combine. Flynn told the media how much he enjoys the Bulls up-tempo system and their young nucleus. He also described his game:

“I think I have some characteristics of Chris Paul. His tenacity, he’s hard as nails, fiery, fires his teammates up, he really knows how to get his teammates in position to where they can score, where they don’t have to do much to score. Look at David West and Tyson Chandler; where would they be without Chris Paul?”

As much as the Bulls need a scoring big, as much as point guard is the team’s strongest position, they have needs at guard- especially someone to be a backup running the point and/or provide scoring at the off guard position given the (increasingly likely) case that Ben Gordon departs.

UCLA Pair Part of Point Guard Heavy Draft

jrueholiday

By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

In recent years, we have seen how drafting a point guard can help change the face of an NBA franchise.  Think of the impact Chris Paul has had on the Hornets, Deron Williams in Utah, Rajon Rando with the Celtics, or just this past year, what Derrick Rose brought to the Bulls.  If you are a team in need of a point guard this year, the crop of point guard prospects is deeper than any draft this decade, possibly of all time, and could produce a couple players who may have the impact of the aforementioned young NBA floor leaders.  Two prospects who play “the one” Jrue Holiday and Darren Collison played their college ball at perhaps the most storied of all programs, UCLA.

Ricky Rubio, Brandon Jennings, Jonny Flynn, and Stephen Curry join Holiday in a group of players that could be picked in the lottery to run the point at the next level.  That list doesn’t include Tyreke Evans who ran the point at Memphis, but figures to be a two guard in the NBA.  Add in the likes of Eric Maynor, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague, Nick Calathes, and Patrick Mills, and I have ten point guards being taken in the first round in my latest mock draft.  It’s possible that number could grow to as high as 12 if Holiday’s teammate Collison or Florida State’s Toney Douglas sneaks into the first round.
uclacheerleaders


Jrue Holiday

Despite grossly underachieving in his freshman year at UCLA, Holiday is catching the eye of many NBA teams.  Holiday was highly recruited coming out of high school, but played out of position with the Bruins, spending more time at the off-guard than the point since Darren Collison was already the squad’s established leader.  He struggled in Ben Howland’s offense which is more a grind-it-out style rather than an up-tempo system which would better fit Holiday’s game.  Still, based on his potential and athleticism, Holiday decided to declare for the draft and could possibly go as high as #4 to Sacramento. Playing at possibly the most high profile program of all may give Holiday an advantage over other rookies in adjusting to the bright lights of the NBA. “At UCLA you’re definitely an icon at school, around campus and pretty much everywhere you go because of the stature that UCLA has built, and it definitely prepares you for NBA life,” Holiday told me at the NBA Draft Combine.


Darren Collisoncollison

As for Collison, he would have been better off declaring for the draft after his sophomore or junior season when he was considered a possible lottery pick.  Returning to UCLA and putting together a less than stellar senior season really hurt his stock as he will most likely be taken early in the second round.  There is a chance that due to his experience, quickness, and shooting ability, he could end up being selected in the latter part of the first round. “I’m an unselfish teammate, I’ve never been on a team where it’s ‘I’ and we have to work around an individual. A team that takes me will get a great point guard because I’ve been in school for four years so I know what it takes to win at the second highest level and I’ve been to the final four three out of the four years,” Collison said at the NBA Draft combine.

Truly, this is the NBA’s Golden Age of point guards. Older veterans like Steve Nash, Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups are still in their prime or just slightly dropping off it. They’ll be remembered among the games’ all-time greats because they played in a era where young star floor generals like Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose also emerged. The Association’s talent level at the point will only increase with the ’09 draft class.

“This is the draft you want to be in right now if you’re a point guard. Everyone’s getting so much credit, from Jonny Flynn, to me, to Eric Maynor right on down the list because everyone knows they need point guards to win ballgames, to take that next step. And teams need a first string and a second string the whole game to be solid, and all the point guards in this draft have the potential to do that,” Collison said.

The Stock Report

By David K.

A weekly update of whose NBA Draft stock is rising and falling

BUY:

Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette, Sr, 6-3

If McNeal was 6-5, he would be a lottery pick.  But because he is undersized to play the two in the NBA and not a true point guard, he is viewed as many as a second round prospect.  McNeal has expanded his offensive repertoire.  He is deadly off the dribble, creates his own shot, has bumped his three-point percentage from 30% last season to almost 45% this year, and is averaging 23.5 ppg in conference play.  Plus, he is a past Big East Defensive Player of the Year award winner so you know he will bring it on the defensive end.  If he is not a first round selection, someone is going to get a steal of a second round pick.
Footlocker.com


Da’Sean Butler, SF, West Virginia, Jr, 6-7

A 43-point performance against Villanova last week was definitely an attention-getter.  He is a versatile swingman who can play in the post and is shooting 40% from downtown.  Butler likely will not turn pro after this season, but should be a potential mid-first round pick in 2010.


Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, Jr, 6-7

My biggest knock on Budinger has been his tendency to disappear during stretches of games.  During Zona’s current seven-game win streak, Chase has shown a good balance of asserting himself as well as getting teammates involved.  He has a pure shot from the outside, can handle the ball, and is one of the best finishers in college hoops.  He is shooting almost 60% from the floor in his last four games and reminded scouts why he deserves to be a late lottery pick.


Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF, Sr, 6
-4

Taylor is one of the best scorers that you have probably never heard of.  He is fifth in the nation in scoring, scored 35 and 38 points in his last two games, and could very easily sneak into the first round.  He does not have the ideal size for an NBA two-guard, but is a potential sleeper prospect come draft day.

SELL:

Jrue Holliday, G, UCLA, Fr, 6-3
Holliday is no where near ready to turn pro.  He has scored just 14 points on 6 of 19 shooting in his last three games including a goose-egg in the Bruins’ loss at Arizona State.  He has the skill-set to be a good pro down the road, but would be pretty foolish to leave school after his freshman campaign.

Footlocker.com
Chris Johnson, PF, LSU, Sr, 6-11

Johnson has the size and athleticism that is desirable in a big.  Problem is he’s so rail thin that he gets abused down low by physical post players.  This was made evident when Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado owned him last week.  Johnson fouled out in 16 minutes and was held without a point, though he did block four shots.  He is worth the risk of a second round pick, but will need to bulk up if he hopes to stick on any NBA roster.

en_USEnglish