The Chicago Bulls have had trouble scoring for a while now, relying on their defensive excellence as they make playoff pushes in the wake of injuries.
But for general manager Gar Forman and the rest of the Chi-Town front office, it’s time to make some changes. So long as Tom Thibodeau is running the show on the sidelines, the defense is going to be fantastic in the Windy City.
Now, more offense is needed, and the Bulls have a plan.
“Chicago is aggressively trying to move its two first-round picks, according to rival executives,” reports Chris Mannix for Sports Illustrated. “The Bulls are believed to be looking for either a veteran scorer or the chance to move up in the draft to select a young wing player with scoring potential.”
Weeks prior to the June 26 festivities, the Bulls hold the No. 16 and No. 19 picks in the 2014 NBA draft, the former coming from the Charlotte Hornets as payment for the Tyrus Thomas trade back in 2010.
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With Derrick Rose set to return from injury, Tony Snell carving out a larger role in the Chicago rotation and European big man Nikola Mirotic potentially joining the team after finishing up his career with Real Madrid, the Bulls already have enough incoming boosts. They don’t need to add two rookies, even in a class this stacked with quality talent.
Trading up and acquiring a young wing player like Michigan’s Nik Stauskas or Michigan State’s Gary Harris would be beneficial, but not quite as helpful as landing that veteran scorer that Mannix references. This is a team that should be trying to win right now, after all.
According to Basketball-Reference, the Bulls scored just 102.5 points per 100 possessions during the 2013-14 campaign, leaving them ahead of only the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers. They relied far too heavily on mid-range jumpers, and the addition of a scoring wing would not only help increase the success rate of those shots, but also make the three-point bomb more of a weapon.
“A huge part of the Bulls’ struggles on offense was their poor outside shooting,” writes Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey. “They were 24th in the league in three-point percentage at 34.8 and 27th in threes made per game at 6.2.”
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82games.com shows that the wing positions—typically the lineup slots most responsible for outside shooting—were the weakest ones for the Chicago offense. While power forward and center produced respective player efficiency ratings of 15.9 and 19.2, the PERs for shooting guard and small forward were 13.2 and 12.9, both decidedly below the league average of 15.
That’s not going to cut it.
So does “veteran scorer” mean Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James?
Probably not, though Chicago certainly wouldn’t complain about receiving that kind of offseason upgrade if either superstar opted out and seriously considered joining the Bulls. Realistically, this perennial playoff squad is looking at adding a mid-level player who can serve as a secondary scoring threat, as that’s about the most two non-lottery picks could get, even in a strong draft class.
Nonetheless, a Thibodeau-coached Chicago team with more offensive capability is a scary concept for the rest of the Eastern Conference.
Actually, scratch that. It’s a terrifying thought for the whole NBA.