Bulls Should Make the NBA Draft a Rose Bowl

One would think that there would be a raging debate in Chicago for the next month about how the Bulls should use the first pick in the NBA Draft that fell so fortuitously in the lap of Steve Schanwald last week, considering that this is a two-player draft between Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley.  Having been too young to have watched the Hakeem-MJ draft of 1984 even if it had been televised, this will be without question the most important draft that I’ll personally witness for a Chicago sports team.  As a result, you would think that the sports radio talk show hosts in town would have a great incentive to milk this out for as long as possible.  However, a consensus has quickly built around Rose as the choice on both the national and local fronts with only a smattering of exceptions.

Fortunately, I’m whole-heartedly in the Rose camp.  This is partly based on all of the standard arguments that point guards are becoming more valuable than ever in the NBA while it’s “easier” (not easy) to get a power forward in the manner of Beasley.  Look at how Chris Paul and Illini great Deron Williams have respectively turned around New Orleans and Utah over the past couple of seasons with relatively average talent around them.  In particular, CP3 has turned Bulls retreads Tyson Chandler and Jannero Pargo(!) into viable NBA players on the offensive end of the floor.  When considering that Rose is more fully developed at 19 than either CP3 or Deron were at that age with almost a combination of Paul’s slashing ability and Williams’ size and strength, it’s not crazy to surmise that Rose has the potential to be the preeminent point guard in the league for the next decade.

(By the way, let’s quickly go over two things that DON’T matter in this draft.  First, the fact that Rose is from Chicago is inconsequential.  It’s great for the headline writers in town for the next month trumpeting the return of the hometown kid to lead the favorite team from his childhood out of the dumpster, but draft picks in any sport need to be made in a vacuum with respect to where such draft picks grew up or went to college.  If Rose was from American Samoa, I’d be just as excited.  Second, whether Rose or Beasley is picked, no one should care one bit with how either one would fit with the Bulls’ current players.  The team needs to be built around this draft pick as opposed to the other way around.  John Paxson’s ability to restore the fans’ confidence in his management skills is not going to be based on this draft pick, which is essentially idiot-proof, but whether he’ll be able to package Kirk Hinrich and/or others to obtain a solid scorer at power forward (organizational mea culp on Elton Brand, anyone?) assuming that he takes Rose.)

More importantly, while I think that Beasley will become a star in this league, I just think that Rose has a certain jen a se quas that I believe will make him a superstar.  Rose already has enviable passing, driving and defensive skills, so if he’s able to develop a consistent jumpshot, there’s not much this guy can’t do on the floor.  I hate going back to the “upside” term, but the ceiling seems higher for Rose and it’s not as if though he’s substantially more of a risk than Beasley considering that Rose was able to lead Memphis to the national championship game as a freshman point guard.  The more I think about the image of Rose stepping out onto the United Center floor in a Bulls uniform in November, the more giddy I get about the state of our basketball team.  This is by no means any disrespect to Beasley, who I believe will be every bit of the impact player that he’s been advertised as for the past year, but Rose is the right pick for the Bulls.

(Image from Zimbio)


7 thoughts on “Bulls Should Make the NBA Draft a Rose Bowl

  1. Of course Rose being from Chicago has a huge impact.

    On one hand, you have the shadows of the MJ teams that he grew up watching, which if he struggles will work against him. An out of town point guard doesn’t have that added pressure of living up to his hometown team and childhood memories of that success.

    Of more consequence is the local influence issue.

    All of his friends and many of his family members are in town to try and grab his ear and divide his attention. Tirico was just on ESPN Radio today discussing this and citing Lebron James as a positive example of clearing that hurdle.

    He is still 19 and subject to people bending his ear. Most athletes will have people bugging them their entire career – for tickets, money, help with launching their sandwich shop/record company/clown college – and that factor is multiplied when you play in your hometown.

    It shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but don’t for a second assume it’s inconsequential. While you can hope draft picks are made in a vacuum – which they really aren’t – it does no good until they are allowed to play in the vacuum as well.


  2. I was actually thinking of it the other way – in my opinion, too many people have been trying to make the fact that Rose is a local kid to be the dominant reason to pick him as opposed to his skill. When you look at a lot of blogs or listen in to sports radio, the fact that Rose is from Chicago is pointed out as a main selling point. A lot Chicago fans have been so used to hearing his name as a high school phenom that they may have a hometown bias. My point is that when you have the top pick in a legitimate franchise-turning draft, you have to pick the guy who you believe is going to be the bigger superstar regardless of where he’s from. I believe that Rose will become a superstar, so it’s happenstance that the hometown bias and the right pick (in my opinion) align, but the hometown bias shouldn’t come into play when evaluating his skill level, especially with such a monumental choice at hand.

    The local hangers-on issue is a fair point, but Rose has an incredibly strong family structure that has been well-documented. Illini basketball fans are still smarting with how much Rose was managed by his older brother and family who pushed him to Memphis as opposed to Champaign, but such structure is going to be a good thing if and when he’s the next big pro sports star in his own hometown. For Illinois fans and other people that follow college recruiting, he’s been a household name since his freshman year of high school. My first mention of Rose on this blog was over two years ago when he was a high school junior at Simeon in an incredibly dated post that came long before the Eric Gordon fallout was even contemplated:

    Melancholy End to the Illini Season

    The fact that Rose got through a rough neighborhood in Chicago while being hailed in national magazines as the second coming of Isiah Thomas (in terms of being a Chicago-born phenom at point guard as opposed to a crash-and-burn executive) coming out of junior high is a testament to his family. I know if I was getting mentioned in Sports Illustrated as a 13-year old, I would have been a freaking prima donna on whole lot of levels, but Rose turned out as a pretty humble yet confident kid in an environment that has eaten up a lot of Chicago Public League basketball stars before him. In contrast, Michael Beasley attended six different high schools in four years, which doesn’t exactly indicate that he’ll stick with the program very long if there’s a disagreement with the head coach. I’m not saying that this should be any more of a factor in making a draft pick when dealing with such an immense talent, but this worries me a whole lot more than the fact Rose would be playing in his hometown.

    Is Rose going to feel a ton of pressure? Of course he is since so many Bulls fans are looking at him as a savior and you could even argue that he’s going to have higher expectations than any rookie to come through this town in any sport. That is a massive amount to take as a 19-year old on top of adjusting to the hyper-speed and athleticism of the NBA. However, this would also happen to Beasley or the next legit star to come to the team no matter who it was or where he was from since this is a major franchise in a huge media market with fickle and championship-starved fans. Whether Rose can handle that type of pressure remains to be seen. However, I just don’t think Rose is going to have the local “posse” issues in the same manner as Eddy Curry because the past few years have indicated otherwise.


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