Bulls Draft 2019: Need or Talent?


With only hours left and after many weeks of speculation and secrecy, the Chicago Bulls will finally select a player with their first-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Chicago sportswriters, analysts, and commentators have opined, ad nauseam, about every lottery draft pick and draft scenario possible but there still appears to be no clear consensus or clue as to what the team will do. Should they trade up, trade down, trade out, draft a point guard, wing player, or big man. Many questions remain.

Whatever the team decides to do, perhaps the biggest question that should be answered by Bulls fans and the organization is whether the team should draft a player for need or talent?

“Why is this question so important?” you might ask. Well, the answer might surprise you.

With the Bulls currently drafting at 7th overall, they have limited options among the prospects that may be available at that spot. Unless the team can find a way to trade up into the top three, which appears unlikely at this point, they may be drafting a wildcard with no real assurance of what to expect. So perhaps we should let history decide.


Since the end of last season, management has made it clear that the team has a definitive need at point guard and they are committed to prioritizing that position during the offseason. VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson has said; “We need competition at the point guard position,” and he’s right. The Kris Dunn experiment does not appear to be successful, and we now concede that.

I can understand why Paxson believes that the point guard position is so essential in today’s game since he too was a point guard. Star point guards possessing some amazing skill sets fill the league (Steph, Dame, Russ, Kyrie, Kemba, CP3). However, intelligent basketball fans should ask themselves this question – which point guard in the last 30 years besides Stephen Curry, has been the primary star player to lead their team to an NBA Championship?

In a league of position-less basketball, where the emphasis is on having multiple ball handling, playmaking, defensively switchable players – championship teams are not built around a traditional pass/shoot point guard. The idea that the NBA is a guard-dominated league is a fallacy. If you don’t believe me, look no further than the players selected as NBA Finals MVP over the last 30 years.

Of the teams that have won the NBA Championship in the last 30 years, only three point guards (Isiah Thomas, Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker) won Finals MVP and only one (Parker) in the previous 15 years. That statistic is not a coincidence. Recent championship history shows that you don’t win because of a great point guard, you win with them. Even as talented as Steph Curry is, he’s never earned most valuable player during any of the Warriors’ championships.


Is the point guard position one the Bulls need to address through this draft or are they better off finding a more suitable player in free agency?

There has been much discussion among basketball pundits about whether the Bulls should focus on drafting one of the point guards that may be available to them at whichever spot they ultimately pick. Darius Garland and Coby White are the two names likely to be there when the Bulls are on the clock.

According to reports, drafting Garland would require the Bulls to possibly trade up to at least the #4 pick, which now belongs to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the Anthony Davis trade. However, the issue I have with that is twofold.

First, a trade up for Garland or any other player the Bulls may covet in this draft, would likely cost them next year’s first-round pick. When you’re a rebuilding team, you can ill afford to relinquish multiple draft assets for a player that’s not a sure bet. Doug McDermott ring a bell?

Second, next year’s draft class is projected to be much deeper than the current one, especially at point guard. If the Bulls are expected to be a lottery team again next season – and they are – the new changes in the draft lottery system could potentially work in their favor, as it did for the Pelicans and the Lakers this season.

The Bulls must address their need at point guard. However, there are many quality unrestricted free agent point guards (Pat Beverly, Ricky Rubio, Elfrid Payton) that could adequately fill that role on a short term basis while providing some veteran experience and leadership.


The NBA is a wing-dominated league, and long has been, especially since the NBA changed the hand-check rules some 15 years ago. Evidence for this theory includes that twelve of the last fifteen Finals MVP’s have been star wing players. When you consider the top 10 players in the game today, one can argue that long, athletic, defensively switchable, perimeter shooting wing players such as LeBron JamesKevin DurantKawhi Leonard, James Harden, Paul George, and Giannis Antetokounmpo make up nearly two-thirds of that prestigious group.

The 2019 draft has several intriguing wing options that may be available to the Bulls with the 7th pick. Among them are Jarrett Culver, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Sekou Doumbouya. Although no one can predict that any of these wing players will be better than Garland or White, history has shown that these type of position players are more likely to succeed and be franchise-changing talents in the modern NBA.


When it comes to choosing who to select, the Bulls’ positional need at point guard should not trump the greater need to draft the best player available regardless of position. In other words, there’s no need to select for need.

Whoever the Bulls ultimately choose to draft, taking the best player available is always the better approach, and it’s quite clear that intelligent basketball fans think so as well.

About Ben Rodriguez

NBA league analyst and Chicago Bulls basketball writer. A true Bulls fan since the Jordan era and long after.

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