As the Chicago Bulls watch the NBA Finals unfold, one deficiency on their roster has become more pronounced than ever -- the lack of a consistent three-point shooter on the roster.
San Antonio's Danny Green and Gary Neal have rained down important triples alongside Miami's Ray Allen and Mike Miller throughout the series. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has to watch these games and wonder about his own squad and how it address the problem. As a team, the Bulls struggled to find any consistency beyond the arc all season, finishing in a tie for 20th in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers, shooting 35.3 percent from three-point range.
After trading Kyle Korver so that they wouldn't go deep into the luxury tax last summer, the Bulls have not had a consistent threat to hit from the outside. Marco Belinelli was supposed to be that guy, but he struggled, shooting just 35.7 percent from three-point range. He had a nice season for the Bulls but he did not provide the kind of outside shooting touch the Bulls were hoping for.
Daequan Cook was signed midway through the year, but he struggled to make open looks and shot just 28.6 percent from three-point range.
Meanwhile, Korver shot 45.7 percent from beyond the arc, which was good for second-best in the NBA behind Jose Calderon. Korver is the one many fans would love to see back in a Bulls uniform next season, and he has expressed several times how much he would love to play for Thibodeau and the Bulls again. But a reunion appears unlikely at this point. Korver made $5 million last season and unless he is willing to take a serious pay cut after such a productive season, he will probably play elsewhere.
The Bulls must find shooters to space the floor around Derrick Rose to maximize their potential as a group. But if Korver doesn't end up coming back to Chicago, where else could the Bulls find a long-range threat? The biggest issue is that they don't have the cap space to sign almost anyone of consequence. The best shooters in the game are either locked up in contracts already or will be looking for more than the Bulls can offer given their cap situation.
The only other place Bulls general manager Gar Forman can look for help is in the draft. Let's take a look at a few of the possibilities the Bulls could go after next Thursday with the 20th selection.
Jamaal Franklin, San Diego St.
ESPN.com's Chad Ford has the Bulls selecting Franklin in his most recent mock draft:
- "He's had just one workout, with the Knicks, though that's about to change," Ford writes. "The Bulls really need a shooter, and that isn't exactly Franklin's forté. However, his jumper has improved considerably. What coach Tom Thibodeau will love immediately is Franklin's defensive presence on the floor. This is one of the toughest players in the draft and a kid who should contribute immediately -- a smaller version of Kawhi Leonard. Tim Hardaway Jr. also is a strong possibility here."
Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
Bullock spent three years in Roy Williams' program and shot 43.6 percent from beyond the arc last season. As Ford notes, he has the ability to play both spots on the wing. On paper, it would appear that Bullock would fit the Luol Deng/Jimmy Butler role and could give either a breather during the season.
Tony Snell, New Mexico
Snell shot 39 percent from beyond the arc and at 6-foot-7 is the type of bigger guard that the Bulls have coveted in years past. His numbers steadily improved during his time in New Mexico and as Ford pointed out, he is moving up draft boards with his workouts.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
Hardaway shot 37.4 percent from beyond the arc last year after shooting just 28.3 percent two seasons ago, but the key for him is that he has the type of college (three years at Michigan) and pro (his dad is former All-Star Tim Hardaway) pedigrees that would intrigue any team, especially the Bulls.
As with any of these players, a big portion of the scouting process for the Bulls would be to determine if they could fit into Thibodeau's defensive schemes. Korver and Belinelli came to Chicago with reputations as weaker defenders but Thibodeau helped push them and made them better.
While shooting is a critical missing piece for the organizations, the Bulls probably wouldn't take a chance on any of these players in the draft if they didn't think they could defend at a solid level as they progress throughout their careers.