Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen believes he knows what the franchise must do if it wants to contend again. Pippen stressed that the team has to build through the draft, because Chicago is not “a destination for free agents.”
Pippen, 54, reflected on the Bulls’ first dynasty, telling the Tiki and Tierney show that Bulls squad was built by the draft.
Pippen’s full comments:
“I believe that you have to do well through the draft. I think that the Bulls’ success in the past came through the draft. Myself, Michael, Horace Grant, we were the original champions of that city. Most of us came through the draft. I just think that they are going to have to be able to find the right talent through the draft. It doesn’t look like Chicago is a destination for free agents. It’s never been the way they’ve been built, so I don’t expect that to happen.
“I expect them to somehow be able to get something through the draft in the future and be able to maintain those players to get back to a competitive level.”
Is Pippen right about the Bulls’ history with free agents?
Pippen’s comments about the Bulls not being a destination for free agents might come off as controversial, but he’s not wrong. Dennis Rodman was a key free-agent acquisition by the Bulls during the team’s second dynasty, but he wasn’t a huge pickup at the time. Rodman’s persona and off-the-court activities made him an extremely risky pickup by the Bulls. He wound up playing a crucial role with the team, but he wasn’t a mega-star free agent when the Bulls acquired him.
Since then, most of the Bulls’ best players came via the draft. The Bulls have shelled out money for guys like Pau Gasol and Carlos Boozer, but the team’s best players — Jimmy Bulter, Ben Gordon, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and others — came from the draft.
Can the Bulls successfully build through the draft?
While the Bulls have picked some excellent players in the draft, the team hasn’t won a championship since Michael Jordan and Pippen left. The team has flirted with greatness at times, but has faltered in the playoffs. Building through the draft can be effective, but it requires a team to be nearly perfect.
In Pippen’s example, he cited the Bulls taking Horace Grant, Michael Jordan and himself. That’s two Hall of Fame players — including the greatest player of all time — and Grant, who was an effective player and tenacious defender. Expecting the Bulls to once again hit on that type of talent in the draft is a huge ask.
The team’s current core of Wendell Carter, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen is a good start, the Bulls still have plenty of work to do to get back on top.
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