The 2014 draft is one of the deeper drafts in recent memory, with a number of franchise-changing players available at the top, as well as a number of high-quality prospects who will round out the lottery. In addition to star power, this draft has depth. Throughout the first round, good players will be available, making picks in this draft more valuable than in the past and thanks to a trade with Charlotte Hornets, the Bulls possess both the 16th and 19th picks in the draft, providing Chicago tremendous flexibility.
Having two first-round picks in such a deep draft is an envious position to be in, but when you believe you are as close to winning a championship as the Bulls do with a healthy Derrick Rose, adding two young players who need to be developed is not ideal. Of course, Chicago could always use depth and collecting talented players is never a bad thing, yet with the added flexibility of multiple first-rounders, the Bulls should trade up for an impact player such as Nick Stauskas of Michigan.
Stauskas, a 6-foot-5 sophomore entry into the draft, would be the perfect fit for Chicago. He is arguably the best shooting prospect in the draft and has the potential to become a very good shooting guard in the NBA, particularly on the offensive end.
When Stauskas arrived at Michigan, he was viewed as nothing more than a 3-point shooter. As a freshman, he averaged 11.4 PPG on 46 percent shooting from the field, while connecting on 44 percent of his 3-point attempts. Yet, he made more 3-point field goals (80) than 2-pointers (58), as other players like Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. were featured on the offense.
However, once Burke and Hardaway Jr. moved onto the NBA, Stauskas became the go-to-guy for the Wolverines and in doing so, took his game to the next level. As a sophomore, not only did Stauskas up his scoring average to 17.1 PPG, he shot 47 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc on his way to capturing the Big Ten Player of the Year Award.
The most impressive thing about the Canadian’s sophomore year is his development as an all-around guard. Stauskas showed the ability to get to the basket, and more importantly to get to the free throw line. As a freshman, he averaged just 2.2 free throw attempts per game but as a sophomore, his average increased to 5.7. He also improved his assists from 1.3 to 3.3 per game.
The ability to shoot, handle the basketball, and facilitate offense from the pick-and-roll are among the reasons why Stauskas is being projected as a lottery pick. That’s why if the Bulls want to acquire him, they will need to package their picks in order to move up.
Stauskas would be perfect in a lineup that also includes Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. He would add a scoring presence on the outside that is desperately needed, and a deadly 3-point shooter to a team that ranked 24th in the NBA last season in 3-point percentage.
Trading up would be bold and is easier said than done, but if a willing a partner presents itself, Chicago shouldn’t hesitate. The Bulls don’t need another prospect, they need an impact player and with his offensive abilities. No prospect Chicago can realistically acquire will make a bigger impact in year one than Stauskas.