NBA draft preview: Points guards and big men
The Chicago Bulls usually lean toward experience in the NBA draft, particularly with later picks.
Taj Gibson spent three years in college and was 23 when he entered the draft. Jimmy Butler logged three years at Marquette and one in junior college. Doug McDermott made it to his senior year at Creighton.
The Bulls had less success with one-and-done point guard Marquis Teague. Derrick Rose spent just one year in college at Memphis, but it's a different story picking No. 1 in the draft. Those often are the guys destined to become NBA stars.
On Thursday the Bulls will select 14th in the first round and 48th in the second round. At No. 14, it's a struggle to find experienced players on the mock-draft boards.
We looked Tuesday at the long list of wing players. Two more conceivable needs for the Bulls are a point guard and a big man.
Point guard could be a priority because Rose will be a free agent in 2017, and even if he stays the Bulls could use a more reliable backup.
The draft is a little thin at this spot. Kris Dunn from Providence is widely considered the top point guard available and could go in the top five.
There are some smaller guys, such as Notre Dame's Demetrius Jackson and Kentucky's Tyler Ulis, who are interesting prospects but maybe not worthy of the No. 14 overall pick.
So when it comes to first-round point guard in the middle picks, the focus often is on Vanderbilt sophomore Wade Baldwin. He has interesting "measurables," to use a popular draft word. At the draft combine, he stood 6-feet-4 with a 6-11 wingspan.
Baldwin isn't a stick figure. He's fairly muscular with a 38-inch vertical leap, which is solid, and he shot 40.6 percent from 3-point range last season at Vanderbilt.
"I've been advised that I could possibly guard the 1-through-3 positions, because of my length," Baldwin told USA Today. "That's what makes me unique in this draft."
It all sounds good on paper, but there are concerns about Baldwin's decision-making and offensive versatility. He needs to improve his finishing at the basket and develop a midrange game. So he is still a project at age 20, although a very interesting one. He may be gone by the 14th pick.
The Bulls would face a similar dilemma if selecting a big man. The "veteran" of the first-round group probably is Gonzaga sophomore Domantas Sabonis, son of former Portland Trail Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis.
One guy who might fit the current NBA trend is 6-11 Michigan State freshman Deyonta Davis. His stats were underwhelming at 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. The number that opens eyes, though, are his 3.9 blocks per 40 minutes.
It's easy to imagine Davis being the sort of mobile rim protector who fits well into the freewheeling, high-scoring style the Bulls are hoping to play. Then again, he's young, unproven, and it typically takes big men longer to develop in the NBA.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo offered this tepid endorsement after one year of working with Davis.
"He was a good kid," Izzo said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "He learned to work harder -- he doesn't work hard enough -- but he's learning to work harder. He made some progress."
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NBA draft previewHere's a glance at the top point guards in the NBA draft:
Kris Dunn, 6-4, Jr., Providence
Staying in school really helped his stock; could go in top 5.
Wade Baldwin, 6-4, So., Vanderbilt
Good size, huge wingspan (6-11) and shot 40% from 3-point land.
Demetrius Jackson, 6-2, Jr., Notre Dame
Looked good in NCAA tourney; size and shooting are questions.
Tyler Ulis, 5-10, So., Kentucky
Nice stats at 17.3 pts, 7.0 assists, but a borderline first-rounder.
Top big menDragan Bender, 7-1, age 18, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Not exactly Kristaps Porzingis 2.0, but Bender has some nice tools.
Jakob Poeltl, 7-1, So., Utah
Austria native a traditional low-post center; 17.3 pts. last year.
Henry Ellenson, 7-0, Fr., Marquette
Power forward with long arms who can run floor, score, rebound.
Skal Labissiere, 7-0, Fr., Kentucky
Haiti native impressed in workouts with long-range shot.
Domantas Sabonis, 6-10, So., Gonzaga
Son of International legend played in Spanish ACB league at age 17.
Deyonta Davis, 6-11, Fr., Michigan State
Stats not special, but might be good fit as small-ball center.
Juan Hernangomez, 6-9, age 21, Spain
Has stretch-four potential, though didn't shoot many 3s in Spain.
Ivica Zubac, 7-1, age 19, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Big frame, long arms and fairly mobile with low-post moves.
-- Mike McGraw