There Is Hope

23 05 2008

Bounces can be a man’s best friend.

When a basketball bounces, the noise is a welcomed pleasure. It can bring amusement to someone’s senses. It can provide solace or relief. It can even be a diversion from the pangs of everyday life.

But the gratification of the bounce isn’t reserved just for basketballs. It can also be applied to lottery balls.

It’s amazing how much a trivial bounce can change things. In terms of the NBA draft lottery, it can change the scope of a franchise. A bounce diverted the impending implosion of the Chicago Bulls. Here is what a bounce can bring:

Leverage for the head coach vacancy

Suddenly, a cast of inexperienced young players transforms into a bunch of potential-filled commodities. Even if a potential head coach doesn’t think much of a #1 draft pick, the confidence and pride that it injects into the franchise is immeasurable.

Things start to look up and John Paxson should mention #1 draft pick more than Rudy Giuliani mentions 9/11. The Bulls now have a tangible draw for a coach along with an opportunity to install a new system.

A revitalized roster

I’m certain that the returning Bulls aren’t buying into all of the savior talk that inevitably accompanies a #1 pick. However, the pick helps change the opinion on almost all of the returning players. Increased by Mike D’Antoni’s feigned interest, people think highly of Chicago’s roster.

Their players can be effective in a defense-centric system — as seen under Scott Skiles — or it can be effective in a high-powered offensive system. Imagine Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Thabo Sefolosha and Joakim Noah running full-speed at the hoop. Kirk Hinrich has somehow lost his “shooter” label from Kansas but is still a very capable scorer and distributor. Andres Nocioni can go off for 35 on any given night. Drew Gooden is used to running lanes from his days with LeBron James. These guys can be dangerous in the right system.

Renewed fan interest

The United Center sells out regularly. It was very difficult to get a ticket when Corey Benjamin was playing. And although a lot of Bulls ticket purchasers are fair-weather, imagine what Michael Beasley can do for ticket sales. Even if they had no idea who Michael Beasley was, there’d be plenty to talk about.

“Hey, Gloria, did you hear that the Bulls got Michael Beasley?”
“No! They did? Does he play basketball?”
“Yeah, he’s the first overall pick. He’s good.”
“Wow, I can’t wait to tell my husband and go purchase a package of 10 tickets.”

Hell, I’d pre-order a #30 Beasley jersey right now.

Michael Freaking Beasley

Should they execute a need pick or a best overall pick? Hmm, let’s see… should I give a starving man bread or a TiVo?

I cannot emphasize this enough: the Chicago Bulls need to keep this pick and they need to draft Michael Beasley.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t harbor any ill-will towards Derrick Rose. I love him; he’s a tremendous collegiate player. But the Chicago Bulls organization need a big man.

Size, offensively, has been a glaring need for the past several years. When you have an opportunity to draft the most versatile lottery big man since Antawn Jamison or Lamar Odom, you take him. The Bulls are missing dynamic so you draft dynamic.

John Paxson has always been someone who made the easy play. When Michael Jordan kicked it out to him, he didn’t pass up an open shot. Paxson wouldn’t put it on the deck and try to tomahawk it over Patrick Ewing. He would make his bread-and-butter play: a wide-open jumper.

Sometimes, the biggest plays are the simple ones.

When the ball bounces your way, don’t over-think it.

Make the shot.

Photo credit: AP/Charlie Riedel

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12 responses

23 05 2008
khandor

FITP,

Interesting that you’re so sold on Beasley.

What position do you see him playing for the Bulls?

Which other Bulls do you see on the court beside hime?

26 05 2008
FeetinthePaint

Hey Khandor:

They would insert Beasley at the 4 while Joakim Noah sits at the 5. If they bring Tyrus Thomas in, then Beasley slides to the 3. I would place him in the rotation similar to Andres Nocioni.

The root of my perspective is need. We need a big and I’m not concerned that he stands 6’8″. We need a big.

Regardless of whether someone has Rose higher on their board, I don’t insert another small guard in a Knicks-esque move. Your thoughts?

27 05 2008
khandor

FITP,

From what I’ve seen from Beasley to this point, it looks like he’s a tweener who can really score.

Experience tells me that this type of player isn’t necessarily the best fit for a team with long term championship aspirations in the NBA.

Doesn’t mean that he isn’t a good or even great player … just that I am always concerned about how a player like this … e.g. not a PF, not a SF, not a shooter, not a slasher, not a defender, not a rebounder, not a shot-blocker, just a flat-out scorer, AT HIS HEIGHT and with his LEVEL OF EXPLOSIVE QUICKNESS … is going to play out in the NBA, long term.

If I may, let me give a comparison which I think is appropriate.

Larry Bird played Center at ISU.

Larry Bird was a multi-dimensional player … but did not have a set position when projecting him onto an NBA roster, at his HEIGHT and with his LEVEL OF EXPLOSIVE QUICKNESS.

However, Larry Bird had another quality about him that told the trained observer (Red Auerback), in advance, that he was going to be an All-Time NBA great, REGARDLESS what position he played when he got into the League because he (i) Could do so many things at an exceptional level, (ii) Played the Game with an exceptional LEVEL OF ENERGY, (iii) was the consummate WINNER, propelled HIS Indiana State team much further into the NCAA tournament than they deserved to go because of HIS BASKETBALL ABILITY, HIS WILL TO WIN and HIS ABILITY TO MAKE HIS TEAMMATES BETTER by creating easy scoring opportunities for them and setting a great example for them.

Do you see any of these attributes in Michael Beasley?

Karl Malone was a great PF over the course of his NBA career BUT … I would never have used the No. 1 Draft Pick on a Power Forward like the Mailman, no disrespect intended.

Power Forwards, in general, are just not as valuable to a championship NBA team as are other position players.

Now … if Beasley could actually project as a Wing player in the NBA, for example, then I’d be singing a different tune.

But, IMO, to have Beasley matched-up 1v1 against the likes of Lebron James and Kobe Bryant isn’t going to get the job done for his team, in the playoffs, at this level of competition.

In my case … it’s about the WINNING of championships … not the entertainment value of the aesthetics of amassing regular season W’s.

Personally, I would either (i) Trade the No. 1 pick this year for a slew of other assets OR (ii) Look long and hard at taking Derrick Rose if, when I evaluated him in-person, I saw him as someone who could lead my team to an NBA championship one day in the not-too-distant future, as the Point Guard (PG) of my team, given his QUICKNESS, EXPLOSIVE ATHLETICISM, SIZE, STRENGTH, LEADERSHIP and SKILL SET (Offensively, Defensively & in terms of Rebounding), at that position.

PS. If you would have answered my initial query, straight-up, with a simple … Michael Beasley is the Starting 4-Man on my Bulls team with Hinrich (1), Gordon (2), Deng (3) and Noah (5) beside him … then, although I might disagree with one or two of your other player choices … I would have said something different in my reply than to see him as a “tweener” who can score a lot but not give your team much more production and stability than that over the course of his career.

27 05 2008
FeetinthePaint

Interesting. Thanks for your thoughts. Two things though…

First, listing where Beasley would line-up wasn’t an attempt to write-off him being a “tweener.” I was simply trying to show where he’d fit in a rotation. Since he is a good talent, he can fill different roles depending on who’s on the floor with him.

I’d give you a similar description if I were looking to draft LeBron James. “Play LeBron at the 2 when Hinrich and Deng are on the floor,” or “put LeBron at the 3 when Hinrich and Gordon are on the floor.”

Similarly, I would suggest to “put Tim Duncan at the 5 when Tyrus Thomas is playing” and “put TD at 4 when Noah’s on the floor” if we were looking to draft Timmy Duncan. Sorry if i didn’t make that clear enough but the Bulls need a big man and that’s what Beasley is to me.

It may be a little counterintuitive of me to say that I’m drafting him as a big and then turn around and say he’s versatile. But I’m definitely shoving him into the post and anything else is gravy for me.

Secondly, all of the traits you gave Derrick Rose could easily be applied to Beasley. From a position standpoint, I think Beasley matches Rose in all categories (with the exception of size which I think is negligible). Sure, leadership may be an issue but objectively, Rose hasn’t displayed much besides “follow me” or “leadership by example,” in my opinion. Not saying he’s not a leader but poise while running an offense is distinct from tangible leadership traits.

Your Larry Bird analogy is definitely valid when guys like us are thinking about building contenders. However, I don’t see a lot of people drafting intangibly. “Will to win” and “making teammates better” usually isn’t considered nowadays. Last year, Bogut and Bynum got chosen over Sean May after May led his team to the National Championship. Year before that you see Dwight Howard chosen over Emeka Okafor who is a high-class guy that led his team to the National Championship. And before that, LeBron and Darko over Carmelo. Same issue there.

It’s not fair to draft on potential alone and if we could have it my way, I’d draft by the parameters you’ve set. Now back to Beasley, what he’s displayed to me is a mean-streak, a high offensive IQ, an incredible ability to score and he’s a glass-eater. I saw most of his televised games and every time he grabbed a rebound, he could hear the “TWANG” of the impact of hand against leather.

Please excuse the comparison but I can see him developing into a David West. West faced the same exact issues when he prepared to enter the league. They’re in exactly the same position except Beasley’s body is a lot more “NBA ready.” Do you think someone like that has the potential to win a championship?

27 05 2008
khandor

FITP,

Know that I wasn’t being critical of your decision to move Beasley around to different positions within various line-ups for the Bulls, I was just acknowledging that I see him in a similar way shifting between different spots based on an y number of factors in a typical NBA game.

That said, I do believe that he’s a tweener in the NBA … not like Larry Bird who was just a phenominal multi-dimensional Basketball Player, regardless what position he played … but, perhaps, very similar to David West (which is a good comparison you’re making, IMO).

The problem is David West wasn’t picked in either of the top two positions in his draft year, in part, because of what I’m suggesting is also going to effect Michael Beasley at the NBA level … i.e. Yes, he’s going to be a very good NBA player, especially on the offensive end; but he is NOT going to be a DOMINANT player in this league, which is ideally what you are looking for when you’re exercising your pick that high in the Draft.

From my personal perspective, I believe an NBA player who is NOT a back-to-the-basket BIG MAN needs to be able to handle the ball for his team, score himself by slashing to the rim off the bounce and being a deft passer to create a number of easy scoring opportunities for his lesser-skilled teammates. Although I have a lot of respect for Beasley’s ability to score the ball himself in the NBA, I don’t see him having this type of multi-dimensional ability to effect the game on a nightly basis, for example, when his shot is not working for him.

27 05 2008
FeetinthePaint

Khandor:

Yeah, I definitely see where you’re coming from. I agree that the #1 pick separates the David West case from a potential Beasley pick. And you’re right, a top pick should be a dominant big or someone with multiple facets to their game.

You have to remember that I’m a Bulls fan. I love self-deprecation so bring on the disappointments. I will say that I’m willing to settle for an “Elton Brand-esque” #1 at this point.

28 05 2008
Trey

Don’t diss my Duke passion for Elton Brand, he could’ve been somebody if he didnt get hurt all the time.

As for the pick, I think this goes back to the Changing of the Gaurd peice that I wrote a while back. I’d take the PG bc you know he can change your team and provide leadership and the ball is always in his hands.

but there are other reasons:

– Kirk H is not a championship team point guard
– Rose is from Chi town so that draws fans in even more than that Beasely would
– do you want to compete against a miami team that has a wade rose backcourt? no one could gaurd those two!
– beasley is no larry legend. the karl malone comparison is perfect. to me he is a funny size. 6’8 but big and lumbering. he’s strong, but not so strong that he could muscle up to guys at the 4 position in the NBA. he could be like amare stodomire (sp), but i dont see him as that athletic.
– lastly, the mentioned on PTI that you could hire John Callipari as the Bulls coach and then take Rose with the first pick. Kinda makes sense.

just my thoughts.

28 05 2008
FeetinthePaint

I love Elton Brand. I mean that I’d settle for someone that can give me 20 and 10 with an inside punch instead of trying to find the next Tim Duncan. That’s all.

Trey, let me poke at your Kirk Hinrich comment a little bit. This kind of goes back to our PG vs. C debate from a while ago but I’ll try to keep it grounded.

What exactly does “championship-level” entail? NBA champions featured point guards like Jason Williams, Derek Fisher, Ron Harper, Kenny Smith and Avery Johnson. If you isolated those players, no one could make a case for them as being “championship-level.”

Sure, stars make up for their colleagues’ short-comings. But, to me, it’s all circumstancial. Can the Bulls win a championship with Derrick Rose? Assuming he’s “all that,” sure they could. But then the next step would be getting complementary players — specifically a big man.

Can the Bulls win a championship with Michael Beasley? Assuming he’s “all that,” sure they could. And the difference therein is that, because of Beasley’s position, he puts them closer to that goal.

You don’t look to cook a great dish by continually adding salt. You’ve gotta throw some pepper in there and see what happens. And, for me, Beasley is that much needed balance.

So with that framework, what does being a championship-level player entail?

29 05 2008
Trey

Fair enough on the Kirk point.

But now I’m wondering how much cap room the Bulls have to sign free agents. If they could snag a midlevel center/pf, then I’d take Rose and then throw out Rose, Gordon, Deng, Noah, and free agent.

Imagine how you could run the floor with that line up! If the free agent was Elton Brand you could also run a solid half court game.

Or Denver wants to trade K-mart so unload hughes or Kirk or somebody to get him for a couple of years and draft a big guy before he is at the end of his rope. I just feel like, and could be wrong, that there are more options than the draft to pick up a proved solid inside player, whereas there are not as many chances to grab a quality guard.

You and I have debated the back court/front court thing before and I think that’s something that is debatable to the end of time. But my feeling is that right now, the way offenses are running and the way the league is headed, you need a guard more than a center.

Also, I shoudl point out that I saw very little of Beasley and a lot of Rose, so that may explain why I’m sold on Rose more than Beasely.

20 06 2008
If The Bulls Draft Rose « Feet in the Paint

[...] the Bulls landed the top pick, I pushed for someone other than Rose, but I’m not completely adverse to selecting [...]

25 06 2008
khandor

IMO … neither Rose nor Beasley will prove to be a dominant player, down-the-road, in comparison to Greg Oden.

If I’m the GM for either Chicago or Miami, I’m trading this pick (No. 1 or 2) for the best package of players & picks I can lay my hands on.

13 12 2011
Jackson

Well thank god the bulls took Rose.Lol.

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