Mar 22, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Dion Waiters (3) celebrates after the semifinals in the east region of the 2012 NCAA men

NBA Draft: An Early Preview

With little Chicago basketball news of note lately, we are forced to prematurely take a look ahead rather than dwell on the past and look at what the 2012 NBA Draft holds.

John Jenkins is one of 8 shooting guards that could potentially end up as a Chicago Bull in 2013. (Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-US PRESSWIRE)

Last year the race was for the first pick as it was, at least on the surface, a one player draft. If you didn’t get Kyrie Irving you were getting a second tier player.

That’s not the case this year.

Right now the consensus first overall pick is Anthony Davis and his unibrow. But after that there is a deep pool of players that can be impact players in the NBA next year. The question Bulls fans want to know is where Chicago will go in the draft and the answer is pretty obvious.

The Bulls need a shooting guard and with the 29th selection the pool of guards is deep enough that they will get one. However it all depends on what happens in picks 2 through 28 that will shape what the Bulls end up doing.

Right now there are roughly 8 shooting guards that are considered to be first round talent but the question is how many will fall to the Bulls. Bradley Beal from Florida, Jeremy Lamb from UConn and Austin Rivers from Duke will most likely go in the top 10 leaving four second tier guards left to be picked off.

Right now it’s looking like either John Jenkins from Vanderbilt and Dion Waiters from Syracuse could fall to Chicago at 29th overall. After the 10th pick with New Orleans the next real threat to take a shooting guard is the Houston Rockets at 16th overall. The Rockets will most likely go big with their first selection at 14th overall which means then getting a shooting guard means they can enact a scenario where they can deal Kevin Martin who has fallen out of favor a bit in Houston.

Minnesota is the next major threat to go shooting guard at 18th overall. They have Ricky Rubio, J.J Barea and Luke Ridnour at the point and have been running a two guard system with Wes Johnson being their only guard on roster. Adding a shooting guard, especially with Rubio out for at least the first third of the season in 2013, would seem to be the only move for Minnesota next to fortifying the bench with another big.

After the Wolves pick at No. 18, the Bulls may be free and clear barring a trade. But there are two teams right before Chicago that can really suck the shooting guard pool dry. Memphis at 25th overall and Indiana at 26th could go back-to-back with shooting guards. The Grizzlies need to improve their depth across the board  but if they are nervous about O.J. Mayo leaving this offseason (he’s a restricted free agent) then they may want to add a guy like John Jenkins or even a Doron Lamb from Kentucky if he’s still there.

Indiana at No. 26 would then be in a situation where they could upgrade and also block a division opponent that they are in a very good position of finishing ahead of next season from drafting a position of need and getting a second tier prospect.

This is a worst case scenario for the Bulls. There is no way the top three shooting guards of the class make it past 15 at the best And after that there is realistically four teams that could take shooting guards effectively gutting the meat of pool. If this scenario played out the Bulls would be left with the third tier of guards consisting of William Budford from Ohio State, Will Barton from Memphis, Khris Middleton from Texas A&M and Evan Fournier from France.

This third tier would be guys not unlike Jimmy Butler who has the capable of playing shooting guard. In fact Fournier plays the exact combo Butler plays of a guard and a small forward.

Of the third tier of guards Chicago will likely be picking from the top two picks would be Middleton and Budford. Both are athletic and both are shot makers who very well could be sleepers in the draft. Barton is also athletic but he lacks the strength needed to be a successful two guard and with Fournier your getting — like I said– a copy of Butler.

A cute sleeper scenario that will most likely not play out in the draft would have the Bulls drafting Fab Melo from Syracuse at No. 29 thus building for a future without Carlos Boozer. With Melo in Chicago, Joakim Noah could slide over to power forward for 2014 after Boozer is either amnestied or traded. This is a fabulous idea (I know you saw what I did there), but it’s probably one that won’t make it past the NBA2K stage.

With 34 days left to go until the draft a lot of things will start to take shape for Chicago. With little money to make a big play in free agency, the only realistic shot Chicago has at making significant improvements via adding a player is the draft. Stay tuned to Pippen Ain’t Easy as we will have you covered better than anywhere else with 2012 NBA Draft coverage.

 

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