Chicago Bulls: Grading the 2014 Draft

The Chicago Bulls never cease to amaze me, and yesterday was no exception.

Draft Grade: B+

In last night’s draft, the Bulls ended up trading both of their first round picks for the Denver Nuggets’ 11th overall pick. The Nuggets selected Creighton forward Doug McDermott with the 11th pick while the Bulls selected Jusuf Nurkic with the 16th pick and Gary Harris with the 19th pick. The final deal sent McDermott and Nuggets forward Anthony Randolph to Chicago, and the Nuggets received Nurkic, Harris, and a future Bulls second round draft pick.

With the 49th pick in the draft, the Bulls selected New Mexico forward Cameron Bairstow. I like both of these moves by the Bulls- they ended up with two great offensive weapons for the future while also freeing up some salary cap room in order to continue pursuing high-priced free agents this summer.

The McDermott move was probably the biggest surprise in the draft. The Bulls did a great job addressing their primary need at the small forward position.

11th overall pick (acquired from the Denver Nuggets)

Doug McDermott (Creighton) 6-foot-8 small forward, 218 pounds

McDermott is a proven scoring machine. Quite simply, no one scored more points last year in NCAA Division I than Doug McDermott. McDermott averaged 26 points per game, which was the most in the NCAA. After four years at Creighton, McDermott has accumulated 3,150 points (the fifth most points NCAA Division I history).

ESPN Photography

Doug McDermott

Not only is McDermott a great pure scorer, he is also extremely efficient on the offensive end of the floor. McDermott is a threat from anywhere on the court. He can come off a screen, isolate, and finish at the rim. McDermott also averaged two 3-pointers per game in the 2013-2014 season. I think his 3-point shooting can be better utilized with the Bulls considering he will help the Bulls spread the floor better giving him more opportunities. With Rose and Noah, McDermott won’t have to shoulder so much of the mid-range and inside scoring responsibilities like he did at Creighton which will further free him up to focus more on long range shooting.

McDermott isn’t the most athletic guy, and at times it shows in his defensive shortcomings. Sure he’s never been a great defender but McDermott has more than made up for it on the offensive end. I see McDermott as a younger version of Mike Dunleavy or Kyle Korver. With the signing of McDermott, the Bulls will probably now be looking to unload Mike Dunleavy’s contract in a sign and trade deal in order to free up more cap space.

The Bulls have a history of choosing foreign born players in the draft, and this year the Bulls added another name to that list when they drafted Australian born power forward, Cameron Bairstow with the 49th overall pick.

49th overall pick

Cameron Bairstow (New Mexico) 6-foot-8 power forward, 252 pounds

[Cameron Bairstow: 2014 Draft Workout]

Bairstow played four years at New Mexico and made the biggest impact in his senior season. Bairstow is a great scorer, averaging 20 points per game last season. One of his top strengths is his post-up game but there are still questions as to how it will translate to the NBA. Though Bairstow is a threat near the paint, his most efficient offensive weapon is his midrange jump shot.

For being such a defensive-minded team, the Bulls chose two players this year who are not known for their defensive capabilities. Like McDermott, Bairstow also has trouble on defense. Bairstow’s post defense is solid but he often struggles when defending the pick and roll. I think the defensive issues with these two players can be resolved with more effort from the players themselves and with a little help from the Bulls’ top notch coaching and training staffs.

I don’t think Bairstow is currently ready to play in the NBA. I believe if he is sent to the D-League or to the Euroleague, he can further develop his skills and be a great asset to the Bulls a few years from now. McDermott however, will definitely make the team. I have no doubt he will be playing an important role next season for the Bulls.

Even though the Bulls went through great lengths to draft a rookie small forward, this doesn’t mean they are giving up on acquiring Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James. The McDermott move will most likely end up saving the Bulls money in the long run while also providing the team with a promising young player.

If the Bulls get rid of Dunleavy and sign Anthony or James, they are still going to need a backup small forward. Hypothetically, McDermott would be a great addition to the bench. And if for some reason, the Bulls aren’t able to acquire a big name small forward, McDermott just may be able to step up and immediately make a huge contribution to the Bulls next season.

[Chicago Bulls: The quest for Carmelo Anthony]

Overall I am happy with the draft; I’d give it a B+ (pending additional future moves). The Bulls mixed things up a bit and made it interesting. Ultimately, they picked up two great players while also freeing up more space under the salary cap. I think the trade benefited the Nuggets almost as much. Harris and Nurkic could end up being major contributors for Denver.

The Bulls really couldn’t go wrong last night, even if they wouldn’t have traded for the 11th pick, there were some fantastic players that would have been available to them at 16 and 19. I’m excited to see how Bairstow and McDermott fit into their future plans. I have a feeling this move is just a teaser for the bigger moves that are coming later this summer.