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)