The Chicago Bulls have one pick in the 2012 NBA draft this year and they will be picking 29th overall. The Bulls had a tough first round exit in this year’s playoffs as they lost to the eighth seeded Philadelphia 76ers in six games.
The series was marred by the injury to superstar point guard Derrick Rose. Rose’s injury creates a lot of uncertainty with the Bulls’ roster for next season; the draft will be a crucial stepping stone for the Bulls as they will likely be without Derrick Rose for a good portion of next season.
Despite Rose’s injury the Bulls do not necessarily need to draft a point guard. The team will most likely re-sign point guard C.J. Watson; it would make sense since Watson is Rose’s back up and completely familiar with the Bulls’ offense.
The Bulls are in need of some scoring; they will be missing about 22 points a night with Rose out. To make matters worse the Bulls will likely be without small forward Luol Deng for a portion of next season as he will forgo surgery on a torn ligament in his wrist, at least until after the London Olympics.
The Bulls have had a lot of success in past drafts with late first round picks; in 2009 the Bulls drafted Taj Gibson with the 26th overall pick. Gibson has turned into one of the most consistent players on the team and one of the best defenders as well.
Furthermore, last season the Bulls selected Jimmy Butler with the 30th overall pick. Butler did not play much during his rookie season, but when he did he showed flashes of greatness. Butler has the potential to be a lockdown defender for the Bulls and his role should increase next season.
With the 29th pick the Bulls should draft a scorer, somebody who can create his own shot and help carry the offensive load with Rose and Deng out. I would look for the Bulls to draft a shooting guard with this pick; Rip Hamilton is not getting any younger and he showed last season that he is getting very injury-prone with age.
I could also see the Bulls going with a small forward with this pick but they might hold off as Butler is expected to play a bigger role next season and could see significant minutes at small forward.
I think the Bulls should go with guard/forward Will Barton with the 29th pick. Barton coming off of his sophomore season with the Memphis Tigers averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds a game last season. In addition Barton also managed 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals.
Standing at 6’6″ Barton has great size for an NBA shooting guard. However, one of the knocks on Barton is his frame, he only weighs 174 pounds. Barton will definitely need to add some weight to his frame when he gets to the next level, but I think he will be able to.
When most college players’ transition to the NBA they are able to add some muscle to their frame, I think with Barton’s work ethic he will definitely be able to do the same.
Some strengths Barton has:
- Excels in the open court
- Can fill the lane and finishes at the basket with great body control
- Gets to the free throw line often
- Excellent rebounder
- Athletic defender with quick lateral movement
- Can create off the dribble
Some weaknesses Barton has:
- Slim frame
- Might not be strong enough to guard bigger bulkier opponents
- Needs to improve in half-court offense
- Shot can be inconsistent at times
- Needs to improve decision-making
If the Bulls pick Barton with their 29th pick there is a lot to like about him and could definitely come in and give the Bulls a scoring punch. However, there are plenty of areas that he can improve on and the major concern with Barton is his slight frame. If Barton can add some weight to his body he could prove to be a great late first round pick for the Bulls.
In Barton the Bulls will be getting a versatile player who excels in the open court and shows great potential on defense. Barton is someone who can fearlessly take the ball to the basket and the Bulls will need that from him since Rose will be out for most of if not all of next season.
Barton’s style should translate nicely to the Bulls and will give their team another dimension. Also, most importantly Barton is able to create off the dribble and that is exactly what the Bulls have been looking for in a shooting guard. Barton might not start right away but if Hamilton goes down with injury again Barton could see significant playing time in his rookie season.