The NBA Draft is tonight in New York City, and it's being greeted with about as much national hype as the just-finished first round of the Cubs vs. White Sox series drew locally, which is to say 'not much'. Draft classes are perceived as being only as sturdy as their top stars, and the names that will be called early tonight lack the gravitational pull of Derrick Rose or Kevin Durant or John Wall or any of the other stars who have contributed to a recent infusion of young talent in the NBA.
Duke's Kyrie Irving and Arizona's Derrick Williams will be the first two names announced by David Stern, but neither is a shoe-in for future All-Star riches. Irving's college career was as breif as they come due to injury; Williams keeps insisting he's a small forward even if the majority of scouts and draftnicks see him holding down the 4. Beyond the top two offers even more uncertainty. Enes Kanter's scouting report is as vague as his origins; foreigners like Jonas Valanciunas and Jan Vesely could just as easily become the next Nikoloz Tskitishvili as they could the next Dirk.
But enough about the top of the draft, our Chicago Bulls have permanently rid themselves of such wastelands. The Bulls are good -- title contenders by any definition -- and the few pieces they add tonight likely won't make or break next season. If they unearth even a single rotation player between picks No. 28, 30 and 43, Gar Forman can add another pin to his NBA co-Executive of the Year commemorative baseball cap. But just because the Bulls won't be swinging for the fences doesn't mean tonight isn't important. With all of the nasty CBA uncertainty that hangs over every word like a storm cloud, the Draft offers the one concrete way to add talent. With a pair of late first rounders, the Bulls get two cracks to find themselves a useful piece. Let's take a look at a few names they could be targeting.
SG Marshon Brooks - Providence
Projections: NBADraft.net -- No. 23 to HOU, Draft Express -- No. 15 to IND
Player comparisons range from: Jamal Crawford to Jordan Crawford
On one hand, Brooks led the most competitive conference in basketball in scoring including a 43 point game against Georgetown and a 52 point game against Notre Dame. On the other hand, his team went 4-14 in conference play and he averaged more turnovers than assists... Brooks needs to improve on his complimentary skills such as spot up shooting and making the extra pass, but his overall ability to score will be an attractive asset for many teams looking for some extra fire power.
In summation: The nation's second leading scorer this past season, Brooks lacks the true three-point stroke Chicago needs, but would appear to have the tools to eventually develop into a quality NBA shooting guard. It looks doubtful he'll slip to No. 28, but he'd be an ideal fit. Maybe a 2-for-1 trade up? Hardly the standard operating procedure, I know, but a boy can dream.
PF JaJuan Johnson - Purdue
Projections: NBADraft.net -- No. 31 to MIA, Draft Express --No. 39 to CHAR
Player comparisons range from: Hakim Warrick to Keon Clark
If he only had the ideal bulk Johnson would be a guy everyone would want. A defensive and rebound minded big that can run the floor. If he gets to about 250lbs he should be a starting C in the league. If he cant add the weight, he will need to find a way to stay healthy and battle through the physical toll going against NBA bigs. With his presence, mobility and conditioning he could have a solid career as a role player with unique longevity for his position.
In summation: The Bulls love productive college players, and Johnson certainly fits the bill. After dominating the Big 10 scene for two seasons, Johnson enters the NBA with concerns about his slender build. He'll have to make his money on the defensive end by providing rebounding and shot blocking, but it remains to be seen if he'll be able to handle the toll of banging with NBA bigs on a nightly basis.
G Nolan Smith - Duke
Projections: NBADraft.net -- No. 38 to HOU, Draft Express -- No. 36 to NJ
Player comparisons range from: C.J. Watson to Chris Duhon
Though he won't turn heads with any one aspect of his game, Smith has proven to be reliable in terms sharing the playmaking and scoring responsibilities ... As an NBA prospect, his maturity, leadership, high IQ and complete overall skill set should be enough to get his name called somewhere in the second round ... Winning on the biggest stage for the most respected coach in college basketball will only help his draft stock .
In summation: An elite program pedigree, a sound character, a warrior-tested resume with numerous NCAA Tournament sitting at the top. Does Nolan Smith have CHICAGO written on his forehead? He appears to be exactly the type of player John Paxson loves.
G Charles Jenkins - Hofstra
Projections: NBADraft.net -- No. 48 to ATL, Draft Express -- No. 32 to CLE
Player comparisons range from: Randy Foye to Rodney Stuckey
Jenkins looks a lot like a more efficient but slightly less athletic Rodney Stuckey who also came from a small school. Adept at playing half court with his one on one game he will need to adjust to the quickness of the NBA and see if he can still do the things that make him excel. If he is a step slow offensively he may have to be defensive minded and get by on smarts. I love the character of Jenkins, he has faced many personal trials, has obviously worked incredibly hard and he is an underdog guy with New York City pride. I think he will find a way to stick around in the league, could become a valuable guard in a winning team’s rotation.
In summation: A big-time college scorer from a small school who lacks the explosiveness seen in most NBA guards. NBADraft.net compares him to former Cincinnati star Steve Logan, who I always thought looked like DMX.
PF Justin Harper - Richmond
Projections: NBADraft.net -- No. 34 to WASH, Draft Express -- No. 28 to CHI
Player comparisons range from: Channing Frye to Ryan Anderson
I think Harper is a rotational forward that will add scoring coming off the bench. I am afraid he will fall in love with his outside game and be one dimensional, and not making much of an impact in the painted area. I think if he works hard to make an impact other than just shooting he can be a valuable player, I see him making a Charlie Villanueva/ Vladimir Radmanovic type of an impact.
In summation: Classic tweener body with a sweet stroke for a big man. Defending either NBA 3's or 4's would appear to be a tall task, but he can stretch the floor.