Aaron Brooks was as surprised as anybody when the Bulls called him last summer during free agency to return as a backup point guard.
“I didn’t think I’d be back,” Brooks said during the season.
That’s because the Bulls did virtually all their predraft work on point guards in a 2015 draft deep at the position. Seven point guards were selected in the first round, including six before Bobby Portis unexpectedly slid to the Bulls at No. 22.
Point guard depth remains a need. Brooks is a free agent whom the Bulls aren’t interested in re-signing. Derrick Rose will be a free agent in 2017, and most informed speculation has him in another uniform by the 2017-18 season at the latest. And while the Bulls would love to re-sign free agent E’Twaun Moore, he’ll be a coveted commodity.
None of this is to mention that the Kirk Hinrich experience seems to have run its course with February’s unceremonious trade to the Hawks.
The 2016 draft is nowhere near as deep at point guard. This management team’s long-standing draft philosophy has been to take the best player available rather than addressing positional need.
But if the Bulls do draft a point guard at No. 14, here are four players the Bulls have either worked out, interviewed or both. The comments are compiled from conversations with scouts and team executives:
—Kris Dunn, Providence: He’s projected to be a top-five pick. So landing the 6-foot-4 guard would require a trade. He has positional size, one of general manager Gar Forman’s preferred attributes. And Dunn’s 6-foot-9 1/2 wingspan makes that size even more effective. Though he battled shoulder injuries in college that included a torn labrum, his quickness and leaping ability helped him win back-to-back Big East Player of the Year honors. One Eastern Conference scout said Dunn’s pick-and-roll ability must improve and he’s a bit turnover-prone. But he’s almost certain to be the first point guard taken. And at 22 and with four years of college experience, albeit one shortened by injury, he has the maturity and experience the Bulls typically favor.
—Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame: John Paxson knows Jackson well from their shared alma mater. Though small at just over 6-1, he has strong penetrating skills and is a natural distributor in pick-and-roll situations. He’s also considered tough, an attribute Paxson said last season’s Bulls lacked. One Western Conference executive called him a strong on-ball defender who sometimes lost focus on the weak side. That he’s a three-year college player and will turn 22 in September are qualities the Bulls typically favor. Most mock drafts list Jackson below No. 14, so perhaps the Bulls could snag another minor asset and trade down if he’s their target.
—Wade Baldwin, Vanderbilt: He’s another big guard listed at 6-4 with a wingspan that measured 6-11 at the draft combine. He isn’t considered the most natural pure point guard and must improve his decision-making, according to one scout. But his strength and size and ability to guard multiple positions make him attractive.
—Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: He’s also more of a combo guard. But his arrival could facilitate the Bulls sliding Jimmy Butler back to his natural position of small forward. Scouts don’t consider Valentine overly athletic. But he’s versatile playing with or off the ball and proved deadly with his midrange game in college. He’s also considered a strong leader with natural instincts for fitting into the team structure.
©2016 Chicago Tribune
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