NBA draft: Bulls should remember role of long-range shooters in Finals
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org June 22, 2013 1:08AM
SEC Basketball Tournament - First Round
DRAFT AT A GLANCE
When:6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Barclays Center, New York
Bulls’ picks: 1st round, No. 20; 2nd round, No. 50
Updated: July 24, 2013 6:55AM
Ah, the crazy feast-or-famine life of a three-point shooter.
You’re a ghost, barely getting any playing time through the first four games of the NBA Finals, only to become a deadly marksman when it matters most in the three games that define a team’s legacy.
‘‘My mantra was ‘I’ll regress to the mean,’ ’’ Miami Heat shooter Shane Battier said after a Game 7 performance Thursday in which he went 6-for-8 from three-point range. ‘‘The basketball gods — I believe in basketball gods. I felt that they owed me big-time. I had a bunch of shots in [Games 1-4] that went in and out.’’
Battier’s performance in the Finals isn’t the only one that should have opened some eyes at the Bulls’ Berto Center. The San Antonio Spurs’ Danny Green, Gary Neal and Kawhi Leonard and the Heat’s Ray Allen and Mike Miller all had big moments from long distance. When the Spurs dared four-time MVP LeBron James to shoot outside in Game 7, he went 5-for-10 from beyond the arc on his way to a 37-point night, sealing the Heat’s championship win.
The importance of outside shooting — a weapon the Bulls lack — was on full display the last two weeks.
The Bulls shot just over 35 percent (21st in the league) from three-point range during the regular season. And while the NBA draft on Thursday won’t turn that around overnight, it could help.
One to wish for:
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 6-6, Georgia
Caldwell-Pope has it all from outside: quick release, range and a short memory after misses. And he plays defense for a shooting guard, something Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau loves. The problem is his stock has soared the last three weeks, and unless the Bulls are willing to trade up from No. 20, you can expect him to go to the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 9.
One WHO fits:
Jamaal Franklin, 6-5, San Diego StATE
There were some early comparisons to the Spurs’ Leonard, but Franklin doesn’t have the range or wingspan Leonard has. What he does do is play defense at an elite level. However, his outside shooting needs some help. Think of a Jimmy Butler type.
One to gamble on:
Shabazz Muhammad, 6-6, UCLA
The reports on Muhammad are all over the place, from what position he can even play to how good he can be. He certainly can score, from inside and outside. He likely would spend a lot of time in the Thibodeau doghouse early on before understanding what’s expected of him.
One to reach for:
Allen Crabbe, 6-6, California
Crabbe will be there at No. 20 for the Bulls, and after displaying ridiculous shooting range at the combine and in private workouts, he would give them a threat from outside. But there still are a lot of questions about a player who might have late-first round, early-second round overall talent.
One to sleep on:
Ricardo Ledo, 6-6, Providence
If Ledo didn’t have some off-the-court issues, his shooting alone would make him a top-25 pick. Instead, he’s a two-guard whom teams are sleeping on for the second round. He could turn into an excellent player with the right coaching.
One with pedigree:
Tim Hardaway Jr., 6-6, Michigan
It’s hard to say exactly how good Hardaway can be because he always seemed to be a second or third option for the Wolverines. He has first-round talent, but he might be more of a project as opposed to providing instant scoring from the outside.
THE One WHO’Ll probably be the pick:
Gorgui Dieng, 6-11, Louisville
Watch the Bulls say, ‘‘Forget the scorer — we want more defense’’ and nab this center. He’s a rim protector with a championship background, two qualities the franchise really likes.