The NBA Draft is on Thursday night, and as things currently stand, the Bulls have two picks: No. 16 and No. 19. Whether or not they’ll actually be making those picks remains to be seen, as there have been plenty of rumors about how they’re looking to move them to make more room for a Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love under the salary cap.
The process for this wasn’t all that difficult. First of all, any player that the Bulls drafted and never played a game for the Bulls — whether because they just never made it or because they were traded on draft night — was not considered. So there will be no LaMarcus Aldridge here, nor will there be Luol Deng since he was drafted by the Suns and traded to Chicago that night. Once those players were removed from consideration it the rankings were done essentially on statistics, longevity and personal opinion.
Also, I took the player’s entire career into consideration, not just his time with the Bulls. Which is why you’ll see players like Elton Brand and Ron Artest ranking so high.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s just get to the rankings of the 31 Bulls draft picks since 1994 that qualified.
31. Erik Murphy – 2013, Round 2, #49, Florida
Our second round pick of 2013 also happens to be the worst pick in the last 20 years, though that could change should Murphy go on to have a career. I actually liked the pick when the Bulls made it, but it was obvious all last season that Tom Thibodeau had no faith in Murphy, so when they waived him in April it was probably the best for both parties.
30. Lari Ketner – 1999, Round 2, #49, UMass
Saw this name on the list and wondered who the hell Lari Ketner was. That’s because he only played six games with the Bulls, and 25 in his career with Cleveland and Indiana as well.
29. Marquis Teague – 2012, Round 1, #29, Kentucky
Another recent pick that was most definitely a bust. Like Murphy, Marquis has plenty of time to climb up this list, but also like Murphy, he sure as hell wasn’t going to if Tom Thibodeau had any say in the matter.
28. Dragan Tarlac – 1995, Round 2, #31, Serbia
A terrible player with an awesome name. I’ll always love you, Dragan.
27. Dalibor Bagaric – 2000, Round 1, #24, Croatia
Another bad player with an awesome name. Need to draft more eastern Europeans just for the names.
26. Keith Booth – 1997, Round 1, #28, Maryland
Booth was one of those players the Bulls took during the dynasty years that never amounted to much. You don’t remember him because you didn’t need to because Michael, Scottie, Dennis and Phil were still doing their thing at the time.
25. Khalid El Amin – 2000, Round 2, #34, UConn
I loved watching this tubby little bastard play for those 50 games his rookie season before disappearing into a vat of cookie dough, never to be seen again. I believe the ultimate hipster cred would be to show up to Lollapalooza this summer in an El Amin Bulls jersey.
24. Corey Benjamin – 1998, Round 1, #28, Oregon State
The first draft pick the Bulls made following the dismantling of the dynasty. He was just a guy, but even if he had been more than decent he’d have never had a chance anyway.
23. Tony Snell – 2013, Round 1, #20, New Mexico
Tony is pretty high on this list considering the lack of overall experience, but he’s also the only rookie to get any real playing time during the Thibs regime. He was just as inconsistent as you’d expect, but the potential is there. The question is, given the trade rumors swirling around the Bulls, will that potential be reached in Chicago or elsewhere.
22. AJ Guyton – 2000, Round 2, #32, Indiana
I hate Indiana so I hated this pick when the Bulls made it. Guyton didn’t suck, though. He had a very short career, only spending two seasons with the Bulls during the Dark Ages, but he did not suck. So credit to him. I guess.
21. Roger Mason – 2002, Round 2, #30, Virginia
I was an unabashed Roger Mason fanboy when the Bulls took him, and even though he was terrible in Chicago (a PER of 3.8 in two seasons) he did go on to play in the NBA for 10 seasons, and was a respectable player while doing so, finishing with a PER of 10.9. So I was sort of validated!
20. Jake Voskuhl – 2000, Round 2, #33, UConn
Voskuhl hardly saw the court in his one year with the Bulls but went on to spend a few seasons as a big off the bench in Phoenix, Charlotte, Milwaukee and Toronto.
19. Jay Williams – 2002, Round 1, #2, Duke
The Bulls drafted Jay Williams a year after they got both Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler, and together the three of them were supposed to lead the Bulls back to glory. Sadly, thanks to a motorcycle accident, that never happened. Williams lone season wasn’t terrific, but the potential the Bulls saw definitely showed in flashes. Sadly we’ll never know whether or not he’d have been able to live up to the billing, and we all had to suffer through some more terrible seasons because of it.
18. Dickey Simpkins – 1994, Round 1, #21, Providence
Simpkins was drafted during Jordan’s baseball sabbatical, and while he was never very good, he was exactly what he was supposed to be.
17. Michael Ruffin – 1999, Round 2, #32, Tulsa
Ruffin only spent two seasons with the Bulls, but he did have a thoroughly adequate career, finding a spot as a role player in Washington, Milwaukee, Utah, Philadelphia and Portland.
16. James Johnson – 2009, Round 1, #16, Wake Forest
James Johnson was one of those “look at this athlete!” picks the Bulls kind of had a fetish for. Another Tyrus Thomas type. He never really paid off for the Bulls in two seasons, but he was very good for Memphis off the bench last season, finishing the year with a PER of 18.5.
15. Lonny Baxter – 2002, Round 2, #43, Maryland
I can’t quite remember why, but this was another one of those picks that I liked for nebulous reasons when it was made, and I really rooted for Baxter when he got the chance to play. I’m thinking this was a side effect of the Dark Ages the Bulls were in at the time, as I just really wanted to see the damn team win some games.
14. Trenton Hassell – 2001, Round 2, #29, Austin Peay
I barely remember anything about Trenton Hassell, which is strange because he did play in 160 games for the Bulls in his two seasons here. It’s probably because he was chosen in the same draft as Eddy Curry, and the Bulls were horrible, so I tried to erase those years from memory as best I could.
13. Aaron Gray – 2007, Round 2, #49, Pitt
This big, goofy looking bastard was great. Not a great player (though he had a PER of 12.4 in three Bulls seasons), but just great. One of the best bench celebrators the Bulls have had in the last decade. That means something, damn it.
12. Marcus Fizer – 2000, Round 1, #4, Iowa State
Marcus Fizer didn’t suck, but considering he was a top five pick in the draft, there were high expectations for him. Expectations he only came close to meeting in one of his four seasons in Chicago. In 2002-03 he averaged 12 and six and started to make you think maybe he’d figured it out. The next season he crashed and burned and was left unprotected in the expansion draft, where the Charlotte Bobcats took him off our hands.
11. Jason Caffey – 1995, Round 1, #20, Alabama
Caffey ranks this high for a few reasons. One is, well, you’ve read the first 20 names on this list already, but the other reasons are mostly for his time elsewhere. He was nothing special with the Bulls, and then had a couple decent seasons with the Warriors before fading away like he was never even there in the first place. Still, those few decent seasons were enough to get him just outside the top 10.
10. Chris Duhon – 2004, Round 2, #38, Duke
I was never a big Chris Duhon fan, but the guy really was useful in his time with the Bulls. He only shot 39% from the floor in his four seasons, but 7 points and 4.5 assists off the bench as a backup point guard.
9. Jimmy Butler – 2011, Round 1, #30, Marquette
I don’t quite understand the love some Bulls fans seem to have for Jimmy Butler, as when they drafted him I liked the pick a lot, but only because I thought he’d be a perfect role player off the bench. A useful player on a good team. And that’s what he has been so far. It’s just some Bulls fans think he’s a superstar in the making, which I’m sorry, is just not going to happen. I also don’t think he’ll be here next season, and if he is it’ll only be because the Bulls missed out on both Carmelo and Love.
8. Eddy Curry – 2001, Round 1, #4, Thornwood HS Chicago
I’ve made fun of Eddy Curry a lot in my time, and it really wasn’t fair to him. The expectations placed on him when he was drafted as a high schooler out of Chicago were astronomical and he never had a legit shot of living up to them. He was pretty good, though! Get past the fat jokes and ignore his defense, and this was still a kid that showed up in the NBA fresh out of high school and averaged 12 and five for the Bulls in four seasons. Had he been taken as a late first rounder he’d have been deemed a success. As a franchise savior though….
7. Kirk Hinrich – 2003, Round 1, #7, Kansas
My feelings on Kirk Hinrich — as meatballish as they may be — are known. I can get past all of those feelings to admit that he’s been one of the better picks the Bulls have made in the last 20 years, though. I hope he never plays another game for the Bulls, but he didn’t suck as badly as I wanted to believe he sucked.
6. Ben Gordon – 2004, Round 1, #3, UConn
Ben Gordon was the funnest player to watch on a lot of mediocre Bulls teams. Of course, given the era he followed with the Bulls, mediocre was pretty damn awesome. As was Ben Gordon. I’ll never forget the playoff series against Boston or the nights he’d just light opposing teams up. He never played any defense, but I didn’t give a damn about his defense either.
5. Ron Artest – 1999, Round 1, #16, St. John’s
Most of Ron Artest’s notoriety comes from his time after leaving Chicago, but I still remember being very sad to see him go when he was traded to Indiana as part of the Jalen Rose deal. Artest was the Bulls second first round selection in 1999, after Elton Brand, and holy crap that was a pretty good draft for the Bulls. Good thing Brand and Artest spent so much time in Chicago! Artest will always be known for his defense, but he did average 12.5 points per game while with the Bulls too.
4. Taj Gibson – 2009, Round 1, #26, USC
Everybody loves Taj, and there will definitely be a part of me that’s very sad to see him go if he’s traded this summer. Even if the return for that trade is Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love. He’s just the kind of player that every fan is going to love, because he not only plays hard, but he plays well. Oh, and he’s constantly being compared to Carlos Boozer, which will make a lot of guys look good. And then there are the dunks. Oh, the dunks. They’re just so damned powerful!
3. Elton Brand – 1999, Round 1, #1, Duke
Injuries destroyed Elton Brand during his career, but damn it, Elton Brand was a really good basketball player. I was damn near tears when the Bulls traded him to the Clippers for Tyson Chandler on draft night in 2001. He was a No. 1 pick that averaged 20 and 10 in his first two seasons with the Bulls and they traded him. For a high schooler. They traded Elton Brand in search for the next Elton Brand! I AM STILL RATHER ANGRY ABOUT THIS. In his first eight seasons before his knees failed him, Brand averaged 20.3 points and 10.2 rebounds while shooting over 50% from the floor and putting up a PER of 22.7. The Bulls sure couldn’t have used that kind of production during that time. No sir.
2. Joakim Noah – 2007, Round 1, #9, Florida
Joakim is the emotional center of the current Bulls team, and he’s also a player that was not only good when he first came to Chicago, but he’s gotten better ever since. I don’t know if he’ll ever have another season like this last one, but it was fantastic to watch.
1. Derrick Rose – 2008, Round 1, #1, Memphis
I was somewhat on the ledge about putting Derrick Rose at the top of this list considering the last few seasons, but then common sense got the better of me. Of all the picks on this list only one has been named an NBA MVP. Sadly that season seems like a decade ago at this point, as we’re all left just hoping Rose will be able to return to the form that blew our minds three seasons ago.
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