Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rose or Beasley?

Rose or Beasley?

As you might imagine, I’ve been asked that a couple (dozen) times the last month or so. And at the risk of sounding entirely clich├ęd, it’s a good problem to have. I’ll admit I only half paid attention to the NBA draft lottery. But that didn’t stop be from still picturing Michael Beasley in a Bull uniform even before they won the thing.

During the actual college basketball regular season, Michael Beasley stood above them all. Dick Vitale proudly and loudly proclaimed him the best player in college basketball hands down—no small feat considering Beasley forced Dickie V to glance outside the ACC for a brief moment.

And I loved watching him play. I found him to be must-see television. I would try to make it a point to tune in every time I saw that K-State was going to be on. The guy went off for 44 points against Baylor in the Ferrell Center (but Baylor still won). I won’t soon forget that performance. And it’s not like Baylor has a lack of interior presence. But he scored in every which way that night.

They told me he was 6’10. I couldn’t believe how smooth he was. Even when the ball was knocked away from him, his ability to keep his composure was uncanny. He would collect the ball, and somehow get up a respectable shot amidst the chaos. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a college player with the ability to get a ball up on the rim with a good chance to go in with the kind of ease with which Beasley did regularly. Then he would step out and drain a three the next possession.

His length was evident. He was a superb rebounder. His numbers screamed prototypical power forward. But his play goes beyond that. He can be at the top of the paint, suddenly lean in, and seemingly have a gimme short-shot. And he could handle the ball.

All the mock drafts had Beasley at the top. The Miami Heat would take him once they won the lottery. And I was sold. He was the next great big man in the NBA. A pure scorer and a dominant rebounder.

Now he’s measuring out at 6’7. What? He’s not a thundering 6’10 inside presence? You mean he’s two inches shorter than the Bulls’ small forward (Luol Deng)?

For how long have we been saying that the Bulls just need that one legitimate inside scoring presence? It’s been the missing piece every since John Paxson assembled this group! They’ve got all the other parts. Including a big crop of above-average perimeter players.

You don’t need Derrick Rose! You can find a great guard rotation out of what you have. Seriously. The last thing the Bulls need is another guard. What’s wrong with Kirk Hinrich, Chris Duhon, Thabo Sefalosha, Larry Hughes, Ben Gordon, JamesOn Curry and company? You’re going to throw another guard into that mix when you’ve needed a big man so desperately? And now that big man has fallen right into your lap in the form of a lucky ping pong ball.

Beasley is the perfect answer to many a Bulls fan’s prayers for the better part of a decade. Like I said, he’s must-see TV. He’s a star in the making. He looks like a star. He talks like one. He walks like one. Seriously…watch him walk up and down the court. He’s a star. He’s got great swagger.

And is the fact that Derrick Rose is a Chicago kid and wants to play at the UC reason enough to cram another guard with good potential on to the roster?

I’ve heard that Derrick Rose is “Jason Kidd with a jump shot.” What’s Jason Kidd ever won? I’ve heard that Derrick Rose is the next Chris Paul. The next Deron Williams. I like both those guys fine enough, but what championships do they have?

Then again…they say Michael Beasley projects as a Carmelo Anthony type in the NBA. When put in those terms, he becomes slightly less impressive. Carmelo won at Syracuse. He hasn’t come across as much of a winner ever since.

So back to Rose…they say you need one of “that kind” of dynamic point guard to win in today’s NBA. That’s funny…can you name the point guards on the two teams in the NBA finals?? They were distant role players at best. Especially the one on the winning team.

And then there’s Kirk Hinrich. Kirk is my second favorite Bull in history (next to Hersey Hawkins out of Bradley). I’m a huge fan. I have a Kirk Hinrich bobblehead. I have a Kirk Hinrich j-shirt. I think he’s a terrific representative of Bulls’ basketball and an overachieving player.

That said, he had a perfectly horrific season last year. He had a huge game against the Pacers one night. Other than that he did next to nothing right.

But two years ago he was fantastic. I still think he’s a special player. He’s the captain, and I think if the Bulls do return to glory, Hinrich needs to be a big part of that. I shudder to think of Hinrich in another uniform.

So yeah, that does factor in to my opinion. Drafting Rose removes Kirk from the quarterback position, and I don’t like that at all. Not even a little.

I guess you could move Kirk over to shooting guard. He’s always been kind of a combo guard anyway. And when he gets his confidence, he can be a reliable shooter. He’s a scrappy defender as well. Then you could bring Larry Hughes and Thabo off the bench and cancel Ben Gordon from your plans.

That would work. They say Rose is a good finisher. That’s something the Bulls need from the guard position. When I saw Memphis play last year I found Rose to be what I call an intentional dribbler. He doesn’t waste bounces. Even I can admit that Hinrich falls into patterns of aimless dribbling a little too often.

So maybe he could bring some purpose to the offense.

Because the Bulls’ roster was so impressive on paper that everyone picked them to win the East last year. And yes, it is an imposing roster on paper. But it translated into a miserable season. So maybe a true point guard with good size who can bring some direction to the offense is exactly what was missing all along.

Still…how in the world do you pass up Michael Beasley?

Beasley will have an immediate offensive impact and likely win rookie of the year. But Rose? Combine him with an already-established roster and you could be on the threshold of some major winnings.

Seems like Pax has made up his mind. And I don’t think its Mr. Beasley. Rose seems like the wise choice. Beasley seems like the very un-Bull-like home run.

So please Pax, do the mature thing and draft Derrick Rose. And if you screw up and draft Michael Beasley, I’ll be the first to jump for joy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

MLB ALL STARS 2008

Here are the most deserving major leaguers for the first half of 2008. Eight position players along with 10 pitchers. Starting pitchers bolded.

NATIONAL LEAGUE
C Brian McCann
1B Lance Berkman
2B Chase Utley
SS Hanley Ramirez
3B Chipper Jones
OF Ryan Ludwick
OF Nate McClouth
OF Ryan Braun

Edinson Volquez
Tim Lincecum
Brandon Webb
Carlos Zambrano
Ryan Dempster
Cole Hamels
Ben Sheets
Carlos Marmol
Brad Lidge
Kerry Wood

AMERICAN LEAGUE
C Joe Mauer
1B Justin Morneau
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Carlos Guillen
3B Alex Rodriguez
OF Grady Sizemore
OF Josh Hamilton
OF Carlos Quentin

Cliff Lee
Roy Halladay
Shawn Marcum
Ervin Santana
Joe Saunders
Felix Hernandez
Francisco Rodriguez
Mariano Rivera
Jonathan Papelbon
George Sherrill