Bulls 2014 Season Preview: Small Forwards

Finally….the NBA season is upon us. The preseason is winding down and rosters are set. The Bulls’ season officially starts Oct. 29, on the road, against the New York Knicks. Before that game, we will preview the Bulls’ depth at each position.

Earlier the shooting guards were examined, and now it is the time for the small forwards. The small forward is the deepest position in the NBA, unfortunately it is also the most unproven position on the Bulls roster. The Bulls missed in free agency on Carmelo Anthony, and decided to get better at the position in the draft, and by improving the pieces that were on there current roster.

Mike Dunleavy 

(Photo credit solecollector.com)

Dunleavy was brought to the Bulls to backup Luol Deng. When Deng was traded to the Cavaliers, Dunleavy became a starter. He averaged 11.3 points per game while shooting 43.0 percent. Those numbers were close to his career average, but last year he was often the first option on offense to start the game. Tom Thibodeau often ran plays for Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer early in games to get the team going offensively.

Dunleavy is a career 37.3 3-point shooter, and his ability to hit the shots off of screens will give the Bulls the easy offense in the half court. Dunleavy is not the best defender on the Bulls, but he does not need to be. With the lack of teams possessing elite level shooting guards and small forwards, Dunleavy can guard less talented score, and allow Jimmy Butler to take the better player.

Doug McDermott

(Photo credit nba.com)

McDermott may be the rookie that actually cracks the rotation. During the preseason, McDermott started two games as small forward to replace the injured Dunleavy. McDermott is the reigning Missouri Valley Conference player of the year. McDermott was ranked high on many teams’ draft boards.

During his senior year McDermott led the NCAA with 26.7 points per game. His 3-point shot gives the Bulls more spacing, and he has the ability to create his own shot. The problem with McDermott is that he is not effective on the defensive end of the ball. For this reason, he could not beat out Dunleavy for the starting small forward position. Barring injury, McDermott will be used as an offensive burst off the bench to help the Bulls stay afloat against opponents second teams.

Nikola Mirotic

(Photo credit nbaclubesp.com)

Under the rules of the NBA, Mirotic is a rookie, but he has a lot of  experience playing professional basketball. The formerReal Madrid forward has the ability to shoot just like most of the Bulls perimeter players. Mirotic shot an impressive 46.1 percent from 3-point range. That range will make it more likely that he will see some time as the small forward.

At 6-foot-10, Mirotic’s height provides the power needed for a small forward position. He can play with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol to dominate the paint against smaller lineups. He is known for being a tough physical player, but matching up in the paint with the more physical small forwards in the NBA will be a test.

Next time the power forwards will be examined

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