Ranking the Bulls’ top five draft mistakes

Proviso East’s Michael Finley was selected 21st in the 1995 NBA, one spot after the Bulls chose Jason Caffey.
Associated Press

Close your eyes and dream, Bulls fans. The NBA draft starts tonight.

Or, better yet, maybe just close your eyes. This week’s edition of High Five takes a look at some dark and disappointing plans for the Bulls.

With help from Daily Herald Bulls veteran Mike McGraw, we break down five of the worst draft decisions in team history.

First, some ideas. We do not include crossover drafts with the ABA and NBA because the drafted players signed with one league or the other.

The 1960s and early 70s drafts are removed because, while the Bulls missed out on some great players, we don’t think they would have been a sufficient improvement over the teams of Jerry Sloan, Norm Van Lier, Chet Walker and Bob Love. .

The drafts of the late ’70s and early ’80s aren’t here because the selections of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant made them irrelevant. We cannot question six titles.

5. 2012, Marquis Teague vs. Draymond Green

Some will say the 2012 draft shouldn’t have happened because the entire league failed Green, the fifth pick of the second round. But Teague was picked just six spots ahead of Green, who helped Golden State win four NBA titles while making four All-Star teams.

Green has issues with fines and suspensions, but there is no doubting his talent. Teague, a guard selected 29th by the Bulls, played in just 67 games over two seasons while averaging just over two points per game.

4. 2018, Wendell Carter Jr. vs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Carter was a productive player for the Bulls for three seasons, averaging around 11 points and 8 rebounds before being traded in 2021 to Orlando.

But as the seventh overall pick, the Carter experience hasn’t been ideal. And now that Gilgeous-Alexander has become a superstar with Oklahoma City (he was second in the MVP race this year), the selection looks even worse.

Gilgeous-Alexander was picked 11th by Charlotte and traded the same day to the Clippers, who traded him to Oklahoma City. Over the past two seasons, he has averaged over 30 points per game.

3. 2020, Patrick Williams vs. Tyrese Haliburton

The Bulls couldn’t afford to waste the fourth overall pick, but it appears they did. Patrick Williams checked a lot of boxes back in the day, but his career just didn’t pan out for whatever reason.

Haliburton was drafted 12th by Sacramento and traded to Indiana in his second season. With the Pacers, he became a star player who carried the team to the Eastern Conference Finals this season.

Haliburton averaged 20.7 points and 10.9 assists in 2023-24, which would have looked awful in a Bulls uniform.

2. 2006, Tyrus Thomas vs. LaMarcus Aldridge

The Bulls selected Aldridge with the second pick, but traded him that day to Portland for Thomas, the fourth pick.


The Bulls traded Thomas to Charlotte midway through his fourth season. His best numbers were 10.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in 2008-09.

Aldridge, meanwhile, could be headed to the Hall of Fame. He averaged 19.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in 16 seasons with Portland, San Antonio and Brooklyn while being selected to seven NBA All-Star teams.

1. 1995, Jason Caffey vs. Michael Finley

This one is misleading because the Bulls were embarking on their second three-peat. Caffey, selected 20th, was a good rotation player during the run.

But selecting Finley, picked 21st by Phoenix, would have gone a long way toward avoiding the post-Jordan collapse under Tim Floyd. Keeping Pippen and grouping him with Finley and Tony Kukoc could have thwarted the terrible rebuild that quickly began.

The entire trajectory of the organization could have changed with Finley.

Finley, a Proviso East product, had his most productive seasons with Dallas. He was an Ironman who consistently averaged 20 points with good rebounds and assists while making two all-star teams.

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