5 Bulls that could have been

Published by Axel on 14th July - 13:44 (CET)
I recently made a post about 5 Blazers that could have been, and I thought that it could be fun to keep it going with some other teams.

This is the Chicago Bulls edition. Five picks that never quite panned out they way the franchise would have hoped for.
Picked 1st overall in the 2008 NBA Draft by Chicago Bulls.

Derrick Rose had an incredible start of his career, and he might be one of the biggest "what ifs" in NBA history.

In 2007 he was named Illinois Mr. Basketball while playing for Simeon Career Academy. In 2008 he took his Memphis Tigers to the NCAA finals while also setting the NCAA mark for most wins in a season. This while being a freshman. He was selected 1st overall by his hometown Chicago in the NBA draft that very same year as the first point guard to be selected with the first overall pick since Allen Iverson in 1996. In 2009 he won the NBA Rookie of The Year award. In 2010 he was selected by the league coaches for the Eastern Conference All-Star team. In 2011 he led his Chicago Bulls to a league best record and became the youngest MVP in NBA history after averaging 25.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. He even made the NBA make an exception rule dubbed the "Derrick Rose Rule" to accommodate young players of his talent.

After only have missed 4 NBA games his previous three years in the league he missed 12 games late in the 2011 - 2012 season due to various minor injuries. When he came back for Game 1 against Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2012 playoffs he tore his ACL with 1 minute and 20 seconds left of the game.
Subsequently he sat out the 2012 - 2013 season, and after 10 rusty games the next season he tore his right knee meniscus and sat out for the remaining of the 2013 - 2014 season.

He returned for the 2014 - 2015 season after only have played 15 regular season games during the last 2 years and 7 months. As expected he was again quite rusty and had to sit out a lot of games in the beginning of the season. On February 24, after only have played 51 games and a career low 30.0 minutes per game it was announced that Rose had re-teared his right knee meniscus, and he sat out for the remainder of the season.

Before the 2015 - 2016 season even could begin he took a took an elbow to his eye (thanks, Taj) in practice, which led to him having to play with a face mask while also seeing double and losing his depth perception for the the rest of 2015. When he eventually got his sight back he actually looked quite good, but with one year left on his contract after the season Chicago Bulls decided to trade him to New York Knicks for Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon.

During his 8 years in Chicago Rose played 406 games, averaging 19.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.4 blocks per game.

It remains to be seen if Rose can become anything close to the player he once was or if he'll just become an episode on ESPN 30 for 30. Even if he does come back, it won't be in Chicago, where so many fans thought he would bring a championship.
Picked 4th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft by Portland Trail Blazers to instantly be traded to Chicago Bulls.

Once upon a time Tyrus Thomas was one of those power forwards whose athleticism was more or less unmatched. Even before he came into the league his scouting reports read things like:

'In terms of physical attributes, there are few players in the NBA right now who can match Thomas’ combination of length and athletic ability. His leaping ability is something that has to be seen in person to truly comprehend. Beyond the fact that he has a 40+ inch vertical leap, runs the floor like a guard and explodes off the ground like he has a trampoline at all times at his personal disposal, he uses that athleticism to the fullest extent, which separates him even further from the Stromile Swifts and Tyson Chandlers of the world.'

'Ridiculous wingspan, quick leaping ability, and intensity make him quite a shot blocker, especially coming over from the weakside.'

'Breathtaking athletic specimen [...] with a 7-3 wingspan and some of the quickest and most explosive leaping ability in the NBA.'

But some of them also said that he had a questionable basketball IQ and "feel for the game", which unfortunately ended up being true.

Despite this, and the fact that he was playing behind NBA veterans Andres Nocioni and P.J. Brown he was selected for the 2007 NBA All-Rookie Second Team, while only playing 13.4 minutes per game and starting 4 games.

He continued to show some development and averaged 10.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.9 blocks per game while only playing 27.5 minutes per game in his third season.
Sadly that's also the peak of his career as he on November 6, 2009, after only have played four games fractured his forearm during practice.

When he came back Bulls rookie Taj Gibson had made such a good job as a replacement that Thomas no longer was included in the starting rotation, and he was eventually traded to Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Ronald Murray, Acie Law and a future first-round draft pick.

Since going to Charlotte in early 2010 Thomas only managed to play 146 due to various injuries, and on July 10, 2013, he was waived via the amnesty clause.

He then played for Iowa Energy in the D-League before going to Germany in 2015, where he played for Eisbären Bremerhaven in the Basketball Bundesliga.

Between 2006 and 2015 Thomas played 402 games in the NBA, averaging 7.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in 19.7 minutes per game.

Meanwhile LaMarcus Aldridge, the guy he was traded for, became a 5-time All-Star, 4-time All-NBA player, and still counting...
Picked 3rd overall in the 2004 NBA Draft by Chicago Bulls.

In 2004 shooting guard Ben Gordon led Connecticut Huskies to an NCAA championship, and had an equally successful start of his NBA career, where he became the first rookie in NBA history to win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.

He averaged 15.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.6 steals per game while shooting .405 in 3P% that season, and improved even further during his sophomore campaign where he shot .435 from the three point line.

Gordon became a deadly scorer for the Bulls both as a starter and off the bench, and during the following three years he averaged 20.2 points while shooting at least .410 in 3P% each season.

What happened next is debatable. Bulls GM Gar Forman made it clear that resigning Ben Gordon was a high priority during the off season, but Gordon himself claims that he wasn't even offered any contract at all. Other sources suggests that he was angry with the fact that fellow Brit and Bull Luol Deng got offered such a big contract, which would in fact be even bigger than what the Bulls could offer Gordon.

No matter what happened Gordon chose to sign a big contract with Detroit Pistons instead, but after payday it just seemed like he didn't care anymore and he regressed quickly.

After three disappointing seasons with the Pistons he was eventually traded to Charlotte Bobcats for Corey Maggette, and stayed there for two seasons before being waived.
He then played one season in Orlando before again, getting waived, and he is now more or less out of the league.

He still places 2nd among Chicago's franchise leaders in 3-Pt Field Goals made behind Kirk Hinrich.
6th in 3-point Field Goal Percentage and 5th in Free Throw Percentage, just behind current Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg.

It's probably a safe bet to say that things would have ended up better for Ben Gordon if he just would have stayed in Chicago instead of chasing money.
Picked 2nd overall in the 2002 NBA Draft by Chicago Bulls.

Jay Williams was a truly gifted point guard, named New Jersey Player of the Year in high school, won the NCAA championship with Duke in 2001 and eventually was selected as the NCAA college player of the year in 2002.

After three successful seasons at Duke there was no doubt that he was going as a high lottery pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, and ESPN analysts have ranked him as the 8th best NBA Draft prospect going into the draft since 2000, only behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Yao Ming, Anthony Davis, Darko Milicic and Greg Oden.

He had a quite inconsistent rookie campaign, competing for playing time with Jamal Crawford, but he still showed some promise and had a few really nice games as time passed by.

On the night of June 19, 2003, Williams had a terrible motor cycle accident where he crashed into traffic light and severed main nerve in his leg, fractured his pelvis and sustained three dislocated ligaments in his left knee, including the ACL.

Since Williams had violated his contract with the Bulls when riding a motorcycle, and doing so without wearing any helmet the Bulls legally didn't have to pay him any salary and instead gave Williams $3 million when they waived him, which Williams could use toward future rehabilitation expenses.

However in his 2016 memoir, Williams mentioned that a lot of the Bulls' severance package fueled his addiction to illegal pain killers.

He has since then tried to make a few comebacks with the Nets, Heat and Austin Toros of the NBA D-League, without any success.

As of right now Williams works as a college basketball analyst for ESPN, and sadly we won't ever get to know how good he actually could have been.
Picked 4th overall in the 2001 NBA Draft by Chicago Bulls.

After a very successful high school career at Thornwood High School, Illinois native Eddy Curry was good enough to get selected as Illinois Mr. Basketball in 2001, and declared eligible for the 2001 NBA Draft.

Even though he came straight out of high school he was viewed upon as such high potential center that he went before players like Joe Johnson, Gilbert Arenas, Gerald Wallace, Zach Randolph, Mehmet Okur, Shane Battier and Tony parker in the draft.

Since he was so young it took him a while to adjust to the NBA game, but he showed a lot of improvement over the upcoming years. In his third season he had already established himself as Chicago's starting center and become a vital scorer for the team.

But On March 30, 2005, in his fourth season during a game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Curry complained of chest pains and feeling lightheaded, both of which are serious symptoms of a heart arrhythmia.

As this wasn't the first time Curry had complaints about chest pain and he showed serious symptoms of a heart arrhythmia Bulls GM John Paxson decided to sit him out for the rest of the season.

In the upcoming summer, where Curry was an unrestricted free agent the Bulls wanted him to take a DNA test to look for a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which have already taken the lives of numerous young athletes.

Bulls had offered Curry an annuity of $400,000 per year for 50 years if he took and failed the genetic test, but Curry had already been cleared to play by the doctors and felt like this was unnecessary, so he simply refused to take the test and Chicago subsequently made a sign-and-trade with the New York Knicks.

In his second season with the Knicks he averaged 19.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while shooting .576 from the floor.

Unfortunately after a few nagging injuries and a habit to get really fat during off-season Curry was traded to Denver Nuggets, who immediately chose to buy him out of his contract, and he nevermore played any significant minutes in the NBA.

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