The 2014 NBA Draft has been built up as one of the deepest in recent memory, and the Chicago Bulls are fortunate to have two selections in the first round. But a team so close to contending for a title doesn’t want two more prospects to develop. The Bulls want an immediate contributor which is why packaging those picks to trade up for Michigan State‘s Gary Harris or Michigan‘s Nik Stauskas is the ideal scenario.
According to a report by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein earlier this week, the Bulls are trying to do just that and have discussed sending their 16th and 19th picks to the Denver Nuggets for the 11th pick. Stein also reports that if the trade went through the Bulls would be targeting either Harris or Stauskas in an effort to bring aboard an elite shooter.
Therefore, the question is if the Bulls have their choice between Harris and Stauskas, who should they pick?
One on hand, if the Bulls are in pursuit of shooting, there is no one better in the draft than Stauskas. He averaged 14.6 PPG in two seasons with the Wolverines, shooting 46 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc.
There is no question that Stauskas is the better offensive player. He even got rid of the notion that he is just a spot-up shooter this past season when he became the go-to guy for Michigan and was able to create offense off the dribble and get himself to the free throw line 5.7 times per game after just 2.2 attempts per game as a freshman.
Harris, on the other hand, is also one the better perimeter shooters in the draft who also boasts the ability of being a quality defensive player, something Stauskas is not and may never be. Harris, a classic combo guard, is shorter than Stauskas at 6-foot-4, but he is an extremely tough on-ball defender and has tremendous anticipation skills, which led to an average of 1.6 steals per game as a Spartan.
As a shooter, Harris is very good, particularly from beyond the arc. In two college seasons, he shot 44 percent from the field and connected on 37 percent of his three-point shots.
Harris is also a better ball handler than Stauskas, and in terms of NBA comparisons he does remind me of current Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich. Both players are undersized but are tremendous defensively and are not elite offensive players, although Harris should be a more proficient perimeter shooter than Hinrich.
At the end of the day, Harris may be a better fit with the Bulls. He doesn’t shoot the ball as well as Stauskas, but his defensive mentality would mesh well with the current roster and head coach Tom Thibodeau.
However, the Bulls are in desperate need of offense, and from that perspective, Stauskas should be the choice. He may not be an elite defender, but he has enough athleticism that Thibodeau should be able to make an average defender out of him.
The Bulls are already one of the top defensive teams in the NBA, and that will not be changing anytime soon with the presence of Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. So when considering who would be better for Chicago in the long run between Stauskas or Harris, the answer has to be Stauskas, who has a higher upside and will make a much bigger impact on the offensively challenged Bulls.