Bulls fans didn’t need the cleverly worded spoilers of Adrian Wojnarowski or any other NBA reporter to know what was coming with the 22nd pick of the NBA Draft last Thursday night. Boise State wing Chandler Hutchison was the name we all expected, and it was the name Adam Silver called. Whether or not you believed the rumor circulating weeks ago that a draft promise prompted Hutchison to withdraw from the NBA Combine, you assumed the Bulls would take him if he was available. Because it was such a Bulls move in so many ways. And in one big way, it’s the biggest criticism you can lay on this front office for the results of this draft and many others.
John Paxson and Gar Forman had plenty of their typical reasons to draft Hutchison, and some of them are legitimate. 1) He’s a four-year player who made big leaps as an upperclassman and looks like one of the more NBA-ready players from this draft class. 2) He’s a high character young man with a great work ethic. 3) He absolutely fits a position of need, especially after the Bulls went big with their #7 pick. 4) He’s a high floor, low risk player.
But perhaps the biggest reason the front office opted for Chandler – and this is the one worthy of criticism – is that they decided ages ago that they really liked him. He’s the latest example in a long list of players who draw the attention of this Bulls front office early in the draft scouting process and evolve into a somewhat unhealthy obsession. All the while, other potential draftees who might have higher upside while also fitting in the team’s roster and system go unnoticed or overlooked. Essentially, this is classic Bulls Tunnel Vision.
When asked about the draft promise rumor, Paxson did everything but aggressively nod and admit it was true. His answer went something like this, “We scouted Chandler early, and we scouted him often. We really liked him, and he knew we really liked him.” So…that’s a yes. The Bulls promised they’d draft him if he was available at 22.
Let me take a quick tangent here – I think Hutchison can be a very good player in the NBA, and I’m not upset that the Bulls drafted him. He needs to work on certain elements of his game. His three point shot improved significantly as a junior and senior, but his release needs to be quicker and his accuracy still has room for improvement. His midrange game is nonexistent, and his skills as a ballhandler will struggle initially in 1-on-1 situations. That said, he’s an excellent rebounder, and coach Fred Hoiberg raved about his ability to grab and go in transition offense. When in transition, Hutchison showed a knack for getting to the hoop for easy buckets or free throws. Defensively, his 6’7 frame and 7’1 wingspan gives him the versatility this roster desperately needs. He’s going to be decent in isolation defense from the start, and he has the work ethic to improve his reaction times and first step that are currently a bit slow.
I really liked Jacob Evans of Cincinnati, and wanted the Bulls to take him at 22. He doesn’t have quite the size and reach Hutchison does, but he’s entering the NBA as a better three point shooter and tougher defender. The Bulls passed on Evans, who went 28th to the Golden State Warriors. To me, that hurt more than the whole Jordan Bell debacle from last year’s draft that most Bulls fans still can’t let go. The difference in the upside between Evans and Hutchison wasn’t so severe, though, that I can’t still look optimistically at the latter’s potential now that he’s in Chicago.
Now, back to my main point. I couldn’t help but wonder, as I watched Hutchison greet Silver on the draft stage in Brooklyn, if the Bulls did their due diligence by looking extensively at Evans and every other potential wing that might be available at 22. Or did they just hone in on Hutchison (who they began scouting as a sophomore) and that was that?
It’s hard to assume otherwise given this front office’s track record with scouting obsessions. In multiple cases, even if they didn’t get the guy they wanted on draft night they continued to pursue him. Allow me to run through some examples:
In 2003, they were obsessed with Dwyane Wade and failed to trade up to get him. Seven years later, they went after him in free agency and failed. Six years after that, with an aging Wade’s game in decline, they grossly overpaid for his services because they could finally get the guy they wanted for more than a decade.
In 2012, Gar opted to take Marquis Teague with the 29th pick despite pleas from Tom Thibodeau to take Draymond Green. Draymond played for Tom Izzo in one of college basketball’s biggest and most successful programs. It’s not like scouting him was hard. This was a simple case of the front office having their eyes set on one guy, and ignoring the scouting advice of their coach. We all know what happened. Teague busted out of the league early and Draymond is an irreplaceable force on the league’s best team.
In 2014, Gar couldn’t resist his Ames, Iowa connection. The Bulls traded up in the draft to select Doug McDermott, giving up Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic for the Creighton star. McDermott didn’t even last three seasons with the Bulls before being traded. Harris and Nurkic, meanwhile, have carved solid roles for themselves in the league. The Bulls also passed on Rodney Hood and Clint Capela. How much scouting of people not named Doug McDermott did Gar and his staff actually do? The gut says not much.
Speaking of McDermott, the Bulls sent him to Oklahoma City with Taj Gibson and a second round pick to get Cameron Payne. [Cue laughter and shouts of anger from the masses.] Why does this qualify? Because the Bulls heavily scouted Payne before the 2015 draft. They really wanted him. Why? I’m guessing it had something to do with high praises from William Small, the man who recruited Payne to Murray State and also worked under Tim Floyd at UTEP and currently serves as an assistant coach at Iowa State. #AmesMafia strikes again. Bulls Tunnel Vision? Strikes again.
That brings us to the latest example: Kris Dunn. The Bulls were so obsessed with Kris Dunn (another classic Bulls four-year guy) coming into the 2016 draft that they nearly traded Jimmy Butler to two different teams. First to Boston so they could take Dunn at #3, then to Minnesota to take Dunn at #5. Both deals fell through, and Gar’s old pal Thibs did take Dunn at #5 for the Timberwolves. Here comes that tunnel vision. A year later, the Bulls front office got the guy they wanted in a Jimmy Butler deal all along. Zach LaVine was a nice perk, Lauri Markkanen was the surprise. But Dunn is the guy they coveted.
This isn’t all to say that Hutchison was the wrong choice at #22. I remain hopeful that he turns out to be a great pick and a strong addition to this rebuild. But it’s worth noticing and mentioning that the way in which the Bulls front office drafted him looks an awful lot like the continuation of a bad habit. Tunnel vision can be a good thing in certain situations, but it shouldn’t be the regular practice for a front office and scouting staff. Plain and simple. Unfortunately for Bulls fans, it’s something we have to live with as long as this regime is running things.
Have thoughts on Chandler Hutchison or the Bulls front office’s draft strategy? Comment below or continue the conversation with me on Twitter @Bulls_Peck.
Chicago Bulls signing Jabari Parker would make little to no sense
Locked On Bulls spends the entire episode breaking down the rumors about the Bulls ties to restricted free agents Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, and a possible deal with Oklahoma City Thunder to take on Carmelo Anthony. The guys try and convince listeners that Jabari Parker does not fit on the Bulls, how much money he’s going to command, and why the Bulls already have a mirror image of Parker on their roster. If Parker’s deal is rescinded by the Bucks and an OKC deal falls through, will the Bulls actually sign Parker?
The guys spend some time talking about the Bulls rescinding David Nwaba’s qualifying offer, what it means in terms of negotiation with Nwaba, the likelihood that he is back on the roster next season, and what kind of market is still available for Nwaba. The guys briefly discuss Rodney Hood as a possibility the Bulls are looking into, but how it’s a gamble.
The guys wrap up the show talking about what they would need from Oklahoma City Thunder in order to take on Carmelo Anthony’s contract. The guys explain that Carmelo will not play a minute for the Bulls, whether or not it would be a win if OKC took Cristiano Felicio’s contract, and if there is any interest in Terrance Ferguson or Hamidou Diallo in a package? Jordan and Matt give their ultimate ‘must-haves’ in a deal. All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.
Who has the most pressure to perform next season among Bulls core?
You have stumbled across the best Chicago Bulls show on the air. The voice of true Chicago Bulls fans lies here in this show. Hosts Jordan Maly and Matt Peck provide you with a daily dose of Chicago Bulls news and stories. We are Locked On Bulls.
Locked On Bulls is back with an interview with Chicago Bulls beat reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews). The guys ask how her experience at the NBA Summer League was, who she was most impressed with from the Bulls, and what expectations are for Wendell Carter Jr. in his rookie season.
Locked On Bulls also dives into her discussion with Wendell Carter’s mother, Kylia Carter, and what her impression is compared to how she was first seen by Chicago media. The guys shift to talking about the rebuild from a relatively new reporter, who needs to have the biggest impact next season from the core three (Markkanen, LaVine, Dunn). Who have the Bulls been talking about most among there young players and who is making the biggest impression this summer?
Some of the other topics covered include her love for the Warriors growing up, what she thinks about Kawhi Leonard’s situation, her conversation with Amar’e Stoudemire and so much more.
Do Bulls fans believe Zach LaVine will live up to his potential?
Locked On Bulls is back with a full hour of Bulls mailbag, a unique mailbag this week which includes the reaction from Bulls fans about Zach LaVine’s signing. The guys run through the text messages and voicemails left this weekend whether Bulls fans are in love with bringing LaVine back or skeptical that the front office overpaid.
Some of the voicemails include wondering if Bulls fans realize their own hypocrisy sometimes, how long will we have to wait to figure if this deal was advantageous for both the Bulls and Zach LaVine, what is the likelihood that LaVine turns into an all-star, who are some of the other NBA players in the past who have had ACL tears and gone on to have great careers, and what LaVine is going to bring to the table returning for a full season.
The guys debate whether or not bringing back Zach LaVine was the Bulls front office hedging their bets on free agency over the next two summers? Do Bulls fans have faith that a superstar (or two) will want to team up to play in Chicago with or without LaVine? The guys discuss both scenarios. Some of the other topics touched on including an extended conversation about playoff reconstruction and whether Butler x Irving was the Bulls front office grand scheme all along. All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.
Chicago Bulls2 weeks ago
Bulls remain focused on superstar hunt in 2019, 2020 NBA free agency
Chicago Bulls2 days ago
Chicago Bulls signing Jabari Parker would make little to no sense
Chicago Bulls1 week ago
What exactly is the Chicago Bulls pitch to free agents in 2019-2020?
Chicago Bulls2 weeks ago
NBA free agency opens, Bulls focus on Zach LaVine and David Nwaba