As I was reading Bill Simmons’s always intriguing annual trade value rankings, I came up with an idea. Instead of ranking the most valuable players across the league, I decided to make a list of the Chicago Bulls top assets in particular. Before starting the list, here are some rules for my rankings.
A. This list only includes assets the Bulls will have heading into next season. This means free agents such as Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic and Daequan Cook will not be ranked on this list.
B. The Bulls 49th overall pick for the 2013 Draft will not be ranked because it holds very little value (for reference, Chicago selected Aaron Gray with the same pick in 2007). Future draft picks (with the exception of the protected Charlotte pick and this year’s 20th selection) will also not be ranked.
C. All of Simmons’s rules apply for my rankings. The two most important rules are that age and salary matter. The younger and cheaper the asset, the better.
D. Finally, the order of this list reflects what the Bulls could get in return for an asset. For example, next season Kirk Hinrich is obviously more valuable to Chicago than Marquis Teague, but the Bulls could get more in return if they trade Teague to another team than Hinrich. This is because Teague is younger, cheaper and has more upside. The future is more important than the present in these rankings.
GROUP F: “Little or no value”
13. Malcolm Thomas
According to RealGM, Thomas signed a two-year contract with the Bulls during the 2012-13 season which could extend through next season as well. Although Thomas would hold little value in any trade, he could be a solid rotation player if given the chance.
In 2010-11at San Diego State, Thomas averaged 11.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocks per game while shooting 53.6 percent from the floor. Despite appearing in only three games for the Spurs during his rookie season, Thomas showed some of his skills while playing on the Bulls summer league squad. In five games Thomas averaged 11.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 53.5 percent from the field. For those who think the summer league is worthless, Jimmy Butler averaged 20.8 points per game during summer league competition and went on to have a breakout season for the Bulls. If you’re unfamiliar with Thomas’s style of play, think of a poor man’s Taj Gibson. Thomas likely won’t get much playing time next year, but Chicago could do worse with its 12th man.
12. Richard Hamilton
With the exception of a couple surprisingly good performances against Miami in the playoffs, Hamilton provided next to nothing for the Bulls all season. He played only 50 games thanks to various injuries and was ineffective even when healthy.
Hamilton had a player efficiency rating of 10.65 (league average is 15) and averaged his lowest PPG (9.8) since his rookie season, all while being paid $5 million. Hamilton is almost certainly going to be bought out this summer with only $1 million of his contract being guaranteed. The Bulls must make the decision by July 10th according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com.
11. Kirk Hinrich
Why does the Bulls front office have a fetish for injury-prone veterans past their prime? Just as Hamilton’s signing crashed and burned, Hinrich’s history of injury problems came back to haunt him once again. Hinrich couldn’t have got injured at a worse time, either.
Hinrich was sensational during the first four games against the Nets in the postseason’s first round. Although Hinrich only averaged 11.3 points and 5.8 assists per game in the playoffs, his defense brought back memories of the old Captain Kirk. Deron Williams was absolutely smothered by Hinrich with the exception of Game 1. In Games 2, 3 and 4, Williams shot 1-for-9, 5-for-14 and 11-for-25 from the field, respectively. Hinrich’s net rating (point differential with him on the court per 100 possessions) was the second best on the team during the postseason at plus 0.6 according to NBA.com. Chicago was a whopping 12.9 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Hinrich on the floor. After Hinrich injured his left calf following the epic 3OT Game 4 victory, the Bulls lost consecutive games in his absence. Chicago also lost four out of five against the Heat with Hinrich sitting on the bench. It’s important to mention Luol Deng missed every game Hinrich sat out except for Game 5 against Brooklyn, but nonetheless the Bulls suffered without Hinrich on the floor.
Had Hinrich played throughout the entire postseason, maybe he would’ve been higher on this list. But considering Hinrich has missed double-digit games four of the past five seasons, next year he might not be available when the Bulls need him most. At $4 million next season, he’s also a bit pricey.
GROUP E: “Future contributors”
10. Marquis Teague
OK, I understand Teague averaged 2.1 points and 1.3 assists per game while shooting 38.1 percent from the floor in only 48 games during the regular season. He also had a 6.04 PER, which was seventh worst in the league with a minimum of 30 games played. Even with those horrible numbers, I think he has a bright future.
First of all, he turned 20 in February. He also averaged 4.5 rebounds and 6.4 assists per 40 minutes and put up stellar defensive numbers. His defensive rating of 97.9 during the regular season was second best on the team and 28th best in the league (min. of 48 games played) according to NBA.com. His points per play allowed at 0.8 ranked 61st in the league as opponents shot only 36.8 percent from the field with Teague guarding them according to Synergy. Of course the sample size is very small, but Teague has shown he could compete at the defensive end at a young age. Tom Thibodeau trusted Teague enough to play him for 14 minutes in the Game 7 win against the Nets. Teague had four points and three assists to go along with a steal and a block.
With Nate Robinson likely leaving via free agency, Teague may see even more playing time next season. Teague will be a part of the Bulls future, even if Derrick Rose is back at 100 percent.
9. 2013 No. 20 pick
One positive coming from Rose’s season-long absence was that the Bulls will receive their highest draft pick since 2009 after winning only 45 games without their star (excluding the No. 17 pick in 2010 which was traded to the Wizards). Even if the pick isn’t in the lottery, the Bulls have struck gold recently with late first round selections. Jimmy Butler (30th) and Taj Gibson (26th) have emerged as not only solid role players for the Bulls but franchise cornerstones.
ESPN’s Chad Ford has Chicago selecting Duke center Mason Plumlee in his latest mock draft. Plumlee had a breakout senior season, averaging 17.1 points and 10.0 rebounds per game while shooting 59.9 percent from the field with a 26.48 PER. The biggest knock on Plumlee is that he’s already 23 years old. Other possibilities for the Bulls include centers Gorgui Dieng and Jeff Withey. Expect the Bulls to take an NBA-ready big man considering Joakim Noah was forced to play a career-high 36.8 minutes per game after the departure of Omer Asik (who would be ranked high on this list had the Bulls resigned him). Whoever the Bulls draft, Thibodeau is not scared to throw young players into the fire. Maybe like Teague this selection will be playing minutes in a crucial postseason game a year from now.