As we all know by now, the Chicago Bulls managed to win the lottery last night, even though they only had a 1.7% chance of doing so. Perhaps this was karma feeling bad for John Paxson after he gave away Tyson Chandler, only to sign Ben Wallace's corpse for $60 million and have Chandler turn into the Big Ben they for some reason thought they were getting. Or perhaps it was because they gave away LaMarcus Aldridge and passed on Brandon Roy when the two things they needed were low post scoring and a bigger guard. But hey, they got Tyrus Thomas and Victor Khryapa instead.
Whatever the reason may be, they are now in an incredibly envious position and have a chance to correct at least one of those mistakes and begin competing again in the East. But who do they choose – Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley.
Here's what Rick Morrissey had to say…I think he's leaning towards Rose.
"If the Bulls don't take this kid [Rose], they are absolutely out of their organizational minds."
Ok, let me get this straight. Even though the Bulls already have Kirk Hinrich, Chris Duhon, Ben Gordon and Larry Hughes on the books for well over $25 million next year (not including Duhon), you think they would be absolutely crazy to not take another guard with the coveted first pick in the draft? Never mind that in order to do so they would have to pass on the best talent in the draft, who, oh by the way, scored over 26 points a game this year, while also leading the nation in rebounding. One more thing, the Bulls current crop of low post players consists of Drew Gooden, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah and Aaron Gray.
"Forget the need for a low-post scorer"
Excuse you? Clearly the hand check rules have made good point guards even more valuable than ever before (See: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, & Tony Parker). Secondly, this is something that Kirk Hinrich probably won't ever be able to take full advantage of because of his lack of size. But try and find me a team that can win without a low post scorer. Aside from Michael Jordan's Bulls teams (Witness 4/7/08: Derrick Rose is great but he is not Michael Jordan), you have to go all the way back to the '89-'90 Pistons team to find a champion that did not have a dominant low-post scorer. And let's not forget that even they had Bill Laimbeer, who is one of only 19 players to ever amass 10,000 points and rebounds. Call me crazy, but with 12 spots available on the roster, it seems to me like filling one of them with a guy that can score in the paint might not be a terrible idea. Now, if the Bulls really do like Rose better and can find a way to package their plethora of guards for a legitimate low post scorer, then we may have an argument. But DO NOT forget the need of a low post scorer.
"If last season showed anything, it's that the Bulls lacked a leader. Maybe Rose doesn't offer leadership his first season in the NBA, but eventually that leadership will assert itself."
So even though the team was two wins away from facing a beatable Cavs team in the East Finals just two years ago and arguably have a better roster now, you think they should begin focusing on the long-term? Well, they did regress last year, so I guess I'll play along. Just remember though, the two biggest contracts on the Bulls belong to PG Kirk Hinrich and some sort of guard, Larry Hughes. It might also be wise to consider how much they will have to pay John Paxson's "untouchable" Luol Deng. And likely Ben Gordon as well. But alright, let's focus on the long-term.
"What should the Bulls do about point guard Kirk Hinrich and his large contract? Worry about it later. You do what's necessary now. You choose Rose because he can right a listing ship."
Whoa, whoa, whoa. I thought we were looking long-term? Monetary issues aside, you just said yourself that Rose's leadership will take time to develop so how exactly is he righting a ship so quickly? And if you need a reminder what happens when you "worry about it [$36.5mm over 4 years] later," look no further than the New York Knickerbockers. The Bulls had a rough year, sure, but for now they have plenty of flexibility to fix their problems. If they start "worry about it later" that could quickly change.
"Rose isn't Jordan."
Good, I'm glad we agree.
"But he might be Chris Paul."
Yes, he might. And if he is, the Bulls will definitely wish they had him. But even Chris Paul needs David West in order to valiantly compete in the second round, but ultimately fall short of the conference finals.
If you haven't guessed, I'm in the Michael Beasley corner. I hear the Derrick Coleman comparisons and if I were a GM whose job may be riding on this decision that might scare me too. And though it hasn't been brought up all that often, there is other off court issues that might scare me. For example, his mother had to move to Manhattan, KS this year because he wasn't responsible enough to live that far away from her. And his infatuation with Sponge Bob Square Pants is just plain weird. To put it bluntly, the guy is dumb. But on a basketball court, which is typically where NBA players have their biggest impact on the team paying their salary, the guy is incredible. More than that though, he fills the biggest need of the Bulls. I'm not sure how long it will take him to average 20/10, but know that Al Horford just put up a 10/10 in his rookie season while sharing the post with Josh Smith. Horford is great and will be for a long time, but on the offensive end, he doesn't even approach Beasley. Conservatively, you can count on a 15/10 out of him next year and who knows beyond that.
Think about the impact each would have…
Drafting Rose certainly improves the point guard position. By doing that, Rose will likely be able to create a few more open looks for spot-up shooters like Ben Gordon and Andres Nocioni. If he's really good, he may even be able to draw post defenders to him in order to create some easy baskets for the offensively inept Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas. Clearly, the Bulls are better with Rose than Hinrich. Truth be told, they look like New Orleans Lite. Paul > Rose, Peterson = Gordon, Deng > Peja, West > Gooden, Chandler > Noah, with the Chicago bench holding a large advantage. But when they're on the road in the playoffs and the threes aren't falling, who are they going to in order to score an easy bucket.
If they had a legitimate low-post scorer like Beasley, perhaps they fix this problem. Right now, as far as I can see it, the biggest issue the Bulls have is that no one can really create their own shot (possible exception of Deng) and they're all jump shooters. If Beasley gives them nothing else, he would alleviate this problem. All year, even with a nothing team around him, he created his own shots to the tune of almost 27 points a game. Not to mention that he led the nation in rebounding at just under 13 per. In case you were curious, Tim Duncan's stats his senior year were 21/15. For his career, they were 17/12. The college game was much different then and stats only take you so far, but it's hard to argue with those figures. Now, I'm not saying Beasley is the next Tim Duncan (for one thing, he doesn't play much defense), but there's not a whole lot of shame in that considering that he's probably the best power forward to ever play the game.
With that in mind, I think the Bulls are a whole lot better off with Hinrich running the point, Gordon at the two, Deng at SF and Beasley at PF. Personally, I'd play Noah at center and ask him to play great defense and rebound. Between Gordon, Deng and Beasley, the points will come. With this line-up you have a great outside shooter, a slasher, and a low post scorer. Bookending those three you have an above average PG and a Center that can do the dirty work. I certainly wouldn't call this the best starting lineup in the league, but it's much better than average and consider the bench they still have. Backing up Hinrich and Gordon is Hughes, Duhon and Sefalosha. Backing up Deng is Nocioni. And backing up Beasley and Noah is Gooden and Thomas.
Do they win the East next year? Doubtful, but they're certainly back in the playoffs and could make some noise. Look, they caught a huge break and either way they go, they'll be better off. Rose is a phenomenal player and in the current NBA seems like a lock to succeed. But if you've ever watched the Bulls and not thought about how badly they need an inside scorer, then I don't know what to tell you. Add in Kirk Hinrich's contract (not to mention Larry Hughes' even larger one) and the Bulls simply can't afford to take a PG right now. I wonder if Mike D'Antoni is having any regrets these days. It would have been fun to watch him turn Beasley into Amare 2.0.
By the way, here is Jay Mariotti's column, John Paxson's no-brainer: A Rose is a Rose is a Bull .
"Some hoops cognoscenti will insist the Bulls take Michael Beasley, the 6-10, 240-pound force who would bring the low-post scoring and rebounding they sorely need. But this is no time for Paxson, the embattled general manager coming off a disastrous two years, to think technically. He must make a public-relations move, a ticket-selling move."
I won't even bother...