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Into the Void

Raf Onak

Following Thursday’s 2009 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls were supposed to have attained that “low-post scorer” they have been desperately searching for since the Eddy Curry era.

Looks like newly-promoted general manager Gar Forman will have to keep looking.

Instead of filling a void that has been haunting the organization for years, the Bulls drafted two forwards in the first round, James Johnson and Taj Gibson. Johnson, the Bulls’ first pick (16th overall) from Wake Forest, is a six-foot-eight, 235 pound versatile forward who will contribute some much-needed scoring up front. Gibson, the Bulls’ second pick (26th overall) from USC, will use his tall frame to be a shot blocking presence in the paint.

“We love James’ versatility,” Forman told the Chicago Tribune. “He can play small forward. He can play power forward. He can play inside. He can play outside.”

“Taj gives us great length, which is something we need,” he continued. “He runs the floor well, which is important for our bigs to run with Derrick [Rose]. He also can play out on the floor some and can handle and pass it. USC ran offense through him. And he can make a 15-footer.”

While the organization is confident the two rookies will have an immediate impact on the team next season, the fact remains that the Bulls are still without a low-post scorer. Leading up to the draft, rumors swirled that Forman was going to draft DeJuan Blair, the sophomore from Pittsburgh who manhandled No. 2 pick Hasheem Thabeet in a heavily-televised game last season. But reports that Blair has been dealing with a knee injury scared Forman and other GMs, causing Blair to fall out of the first round. He was eventually drafted by the San Antonio Spurs with the 37th overall pick.

For now, we’ll pretend Forman knows what he’s doing. But then again, that’s easy to say in the off-season.

The biggest positive to take from this year’s draft, however, is that Tyrus Thomas now has competition in the frontcourt. Maybe Johnson and Gibson will force him to listen. Maybe they will force him to play smart. Or maybe, if Chicago is lucky, they will force him to get traded.

After all, no team wants a player who is in it for the “free money.”


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