The real winner from Thursday’s NBA Draft? The maroon jacket. It was loud and proud, worn nicely on the backs and sleeves of at least five first-round picks.
The Bulls, and the rest of the Central Division for that matter, would simply have to settle for second place.
Not that it was a bad thing, as it was a solid evening for all five teams that share the same division space, headlined by the Bulls once again staying true to their board and landing Arkansas big man Bobby Portis.
No wonder general manager Gar Forman was feeling good about himself when he addressed the media that eveing.
“One of the strengths of our team is the depth we do have on the frontline, and Bobby will have to earn any minutes that he gets,’’ Forman said of his newest 6-foot-10, 250-pound toy. “Again, in just all the background we did at Arkansas, this is a guy that is committed. He’s going to come to work every day.
“We were going to take the best guy available, and we felt 100 percent for sure when we were at 22 and he was on the board, that he was the best player available to us.’’
Does the drafting of Portis shift the balance of power in the Central? Absolutely not. This is the reign of King James, and until the Era of LeBron comes to an end in Cleveland, the Bulls seem to be nothing more than spectators to it.
Best-case scenario, however, is over the next few years, Portis makes it so Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson can’t as easily dominate the Bulls like he did throughout the season and in the playoffs, and also develops into a starter as Pau Gasol ages and Joakim Noah’s contract expires.
“First and foremost, he moves very well for a kid that size,’’ first-year coach Fred Hoiberg said of Portis. “He’s over 6-10 and runs the floor extremely well, which is very important with the pace we’re going to want to play with. And he’s good in the pick and roll.
“It’s exciting to get a young big kid who can play all over the court.’’
That’s why the Bulls get a solid B+ as a draft grade. As far as the rest of the Central?
Cleveland Cavaliers – Cedi Osman (31st overall), Rakeem Christmas (36th overall), Sir’Dominic Pointer (53rd overall) – This was not about bodies as much as finances for the Cavs. In trading Tyus Jones and getting second-round picks, Cleveland added some potential in Osman and Christmas, and did so without having to spend first-round money. With James always on the recruiting trail, it’s all about having the money to add.
Milwaukee Bucks – Rashad Vaughn (17th overall) – Coach Jason Kidd continued to land young talent for his up-and-coming roster, with Vaughn loaded with scoring potential from that two-guard spot. If he can keep his head on straight he will give Milwaukee much-needed outside scoring.
Indiana Pacers – Myles Turner (11th overall), Joseph Young (43rd overall) – Sneaky good draft for Indiana, who landed a high-ceiling big man in Turner, as well as Young, who was projected out as a late first-round talent. Both players could factor into the rotation right away.
Detroit Pistons – Stanley Johnson (8th overall), Darrun Hilliard (38th overall) – There’s always that team that reaches on picks. Hello, Detroit. They picked Johnson over Justise Winslow, allowing Miami to land the Duke standout. Then grabbed Hilliard about 10-15 picks too soon.