Forward thinking: Bulls select Snell at No. 20


Jun 27

The Chicago Bulls selected Tony Snell, a 6-7, 200-pound forward, with the 20th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft on Thursday. Later in the evening, they added Erik Murphy, a 6-10, 230-pound forward, with the draft’s 49th overall pick.

Both players will have an opportunity to help the Bulls get better in an area with room for improvement: shooting the basketball.

2013 NBA Draft

Aside from his ability to make shots from the perimeter, Snell comes to Chicago from New Mexico with the reputation of being a solid defender. As a junior, he averaged 12.5 points and 2.9 assists in 31.2 minutes per game. Snell shot 42.2 percent from the field, including 39.0 percent from three-point range. He leaves the Lobos ranked 10th all-time with 434 career three-point attempts, having connected on 38.0 percent.

“First of all, he can shoot the basketball,” said Forman of Snell, whom the Bulls had targeted dating back to the fall. “But we think he’s got terrific tools. He’s got great length, he’s 6-7 ½, he’s got a seven-foot wingspan, and he’s a very good athlete. We think he’s a skilled basketball player with a lot of potential to get better.

“All our background tells us he’s a terrific worker and a very good kid,” added Forman.

Tony Snell

“I feel like I’m good enough to defend anybody,” said Snell. “I really feel good about that.”

Shortly after the selection was announced, Snell spoke to Chicago reporters at the Berto Center over the phone, telling them a priority would be to get stronger in anticipation of his first professional season.

“It’s crazy knowing I’m going to the Bulls,” said Snell, who checked in at the NBA Draft Combine with a body fat of only 4.9 percent. “I watched [Michael] Jordan play my whole life. I watched Derrick Rose. He’s a great player. I can’t wait to work with him and help the team win.”

He also expressed confidence he’d be able to meet the demands placed on players by head coach Tom Thibodeau and his staff with respect to defense.

“I feel like I’m good enough to defend anybody,” said Snell. “I really feel good about that.”

Originally from Riverside, California, Snell was a high school teammate of San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.

“I know how hard he works and I know what it takes to be a great player,” said Snell of Leonard. “The position he’s in now, he’s done a fantastic job and I feel like I can do the same thing.”

Murphy, meanwhile, played three seasons for the University of Florida. He averaged 12.2 points and 5.5 rebounds as a junior, earning first team All-SEC honors.

“Something you’ve heard Tom talk about and you’ve heard me talk about is improving our ability to shoot the basketball,” said Forman. “Erik Murphy is a stretch four that was a 45 percent three-point shooter who we think has a chance to help us down the road because of his ability to stretch the floor and shoot the basketball.”

As a high school senior in 2009, Murphy became the first player from Rhode Island to be named as a Parade Magazine All-American. His father, Jay, played in the NBA from 1984-88 for the Bullets and Clippers.

“I think we addressed a need,” said Thibodeau. “Both guys shoot the ball extremely well. We feel Snell has a big upside and we feel the same way about Erik Murphy. We’re thrilled we have the opportunity to add them to our team.”

Audio—Gar Forman & Tom Thibodeau meet the media following the 2013 NBA Draft:

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