Rep Britain or else

15 08 2008
Get your money, Lu

Get your money, Lu

The British National Team cannot find insurance for Luol Deng. Luol just inked a six-year deal with the Chicago Bulls that could pay him up to $80 million.

The issue is that playing in Great Britain’s qualifying games for the 2009 European Championship creates a conflict of interest.

The Bulls have paid him said amount of money, what if the man gets hurt? Bulls officials are still weary of injury off the somewhat-recent Jay Williams situation. It would behoove them to proceed with caution. Understandably, they have included this clause in their contract.

There is a school of thought that denigrates Luol. He didn’t make playing for Britain a priority. What gives?

Keep in mind that he’s of Sudanese decent and currently lives in the States. The British team was ecstatic when he volunteered to play and maybe shouldn’t except a rabid nationalism from him.

I don’t think anyone would accuse this man of being overly selfish. He’s worked hard to get to this point so why not get paid?

Is it simply a matter of nationalism versus income?

Photo credit: Slam Dunk Central





Drew Gooden (07-08 Synopsis)

29 07 2008

A portrait of a young beard

A portrait of an artist with a young beard

 

Drew Gooden — Chicago Bulls Forward
Measurements: 6’10″ – 230 lbs.
Experience: Sixth-year, 27 years old
From: University of Kansas

2007 – 2008 Season Statistics
12.0 points | 44.9% FG | 8.6 rebounds | 1.2 assists | 0.8 blocks | 30.8 minutes

Season Highs
Points: 31 (vs. Atlanta)
Rebounds: 16 (2x)
Defensive Rebounds: 13 (@ Phoenix)
Offensive Rebounds: 8 (2x)
Assists: 5 (2x)
Blocks: 4 (vs. New Jersey)
Steals: 5 (@ Toronto)

What This Year Proved

Drew is your consummate hustle player.  He can crash the boards and set picks with the best of them.  But on a team where every front-court player is a “hustle player,” Drew had to bring his game.

And he did, for the most part.  In the 51 games before getting traded to the Chicago Bulls, Drew tallied averages of 11.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.6 blocks. 

In 18 games with the Bulls, Drew averaged 14.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 blocks.  He did a solid job for Chicago.  In Chicago, he improved his per game shot-blocking drastically, nearly doubling his 0.7 career block average.

His sudden defensive prowess can be attributed to his new role as one of Chicago’s primary big men.  The pressure defense employed last year helped funnel drives to either him or Joakim Noah.  Drew proved that he can be an adequate, if not exemplary, anchor for a thinning Bulls defense.

Quote Him

“Man, I got jealous of the ducktail.  The ducktail started getting more attention than me, so that’s why I cut it off.” — on cutting his old rat-tail

Looking Forward

We know Drew can run the floor and finish.  We know he can hustle and board.  But as the Bulls are currently constructed, he’ll need to do more than that.

When he establishes position, he has a high-percentage baby hook that he hits over most defenses.  Drew gets into trouble when he starts acting like Arvydas Sabonis.  The Big 90 convinces himself that he can hit fadeaway J’s a la Sabonis but they’re bad, off-balance shots and he’s no Paul Hamm.

Drew needs to use his muscle and width to get as many easy inside buckets as he can.  Alternatively, he has some speed and enough determination to beat his man down the floor.  Easy buckets can come his way by looking for an outlet or a quick entry pass in the early offense. 

Because the Bulls haven’t addressed their big man deficiency, Drew Gooden will need to assert himself past his comfort zone.  He doesn’t have second or third option skills but being the most polished big forces him into the equation.

Season Grade: B

Fourteen and 10 is nothing to sneeze at.  Drew performed as well as he’s ever performed in his career.  Although his efforts didn’t translate into more wins, it’s greatly appreciated.  Keep on keepin’ on, especially with that gnarly beard.

Photo credit: Slam Dunk Central





Assemble Your Crew

3 07 2008

After hiring the green Vinny Del Negro to become the Chicago Bulls’ head coach, the organization has hired some tremendous assistant coaches.  Vinny’s Prince now has the Revolution — in the form of three aging men.

Del Harris, Bernie Bickerstaff and Bob Ociepka have been brought into the fold.  I’m very happy and impressed with these hires.  All three guys can ground the organization with pragmatism and experience, supplementing the change of direction and freshness that Vinny represents. 

Harris has more than 13 seasons of head coaching experience with a career record of 556 wins and 457 losses.  Having been with the Mavericks for the last nine seasons, Harris has been apart of the offensive fluidity of Don Nelson as well seeing the strict defensive schemes of Avery Johnson.   Maybe Jerry Reinsdorf will morph into Mark Cuban? 

Bickerstaff has been with the Charlotte Bobcats franchise since the beginning.  He has served as their head coach, general manager and EVP of basketball operations.  Vinny, as well as John Paxson, will benefit from having someone that has managed a team from different angles.  Maybe Reinsdorf will turn into Michael Jordan?

Ociepka also has a lot of coaching experience.  Additionally, he spent the last two seasons as a Timberwolves assistant.  His familiarity with a young core nucleus will also play a part.

Although these aren’t your USA National Team assistants (Jim Boeheim, Nate McMillan and formerly Gregg Popovich), this is a great move by the Bulls.  For the first time this summer, they have done what I wanted them to do. 

I hope they make it Purple Rain.

Photo credit: Palo Alto Daily News





Smells Like A…

27 06 2008

If you’re at all familiar with this site, you know that I wish another guy was the first to shake David Stern’s hand.  Derrick Rose is a nice player and I’m certainly happy to have him.  But when you give a mouse a cookie (a #1 overall pick)…

The acquisition of Rose provides a few answers but it raises many more questions.

Can Rose shoot?  Will Rose develop quickly enough?  What will become of Kirk Hinrich?  What will become of Ben Gordon? 

I tried to imagine what would happen if the Bulls picked Rose and where to go from here.  Jeff Goodman at FOXsports raises a few more questions.

“Beasley only measured in at 6-foot-8 and change with shoes and some people were shocked. Are you seriously telling me that an extra inch is the difference between him being worthy of the No. 1 pick?

Guards are far easier to obtain than multi-dimensional frontcourt players who can score inside and out and can pull down double-digit rebounds with frequency. There’s Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Deron Williams. C’mon, the Boston Celtics won the NBA title this past season with RAJON RONDO running the team.

Rose is unselfish and, while Memphis coach John Calipari would have you believing he’s a leader, he’s not. He’s quiet and had an ideal situation for his lone season in college in which he had upperclassmen such as Antonio Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts to provide the leadership.

Rose is still a ways away — and may never become Paul or Williams. He’s been blessed with physical gifts of a rare combination of speed and athleticism, but he’s not a superb passer.

I don’t want to hear about the fact that Rose took his team further than Beasley.

Put Rose on the Kansas State Wildcats and they don’t even make it to the Big Dance.

Beasley carried his team to the NCAA tournament and even won a game in the Big Dance — all without a bona fide point guard.”

When I talk to my friends, I sound a lot like Goodman.  The thing is that I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.  Almost everyone I talk basketball with in Chicago talks about how Derrick Rose is the obvious first pick.

Could Derrick Rose become Deron Williams?  He could, and that would be fantastic.  Isn’t that a bit of an overstatement of point guard’s values?  I think it’s telling that Magic Johnson was the last point guard taken first in the draft. 

Rondo and Derek Fisher were the point guards in the Finals.  And when push came to shove, Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant handled the ball and set up the offense.  Am I wrong to understate a point guard’s value?

This next point is based solely on watching interviews with Rose on TV or on the internet.  There’s a lot said about how he can provide leadership on a team where a dominant personality is sorely lacking.  Has anyone seen Rose speak?  His sound bites make him seem like a very nice guy.  He seems nice and underspoken.  Isn’t that how Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon are?  Aren’t they all nice guys that “lead by example” as opposed to being a strong personality, asking their teammates to “tell me how my ass tastes?” 

The comments from Jay Bilas and Mark Jackson during the draft perplexed me a little bit.  They kept tagging Bulls players with the “loser” label.  They continued on by talking about how the Rose pick adds much-needed athleticism to the team.

Losers?  Why is it that one bad season discredits all of the momentum and credibility that this young Bulls team had?  This time last year, EVERYONE was talking about how the Bulls were an Eastern Conference contender.  EVERYONE. 

People are fickle.  They are especially fickle with their sports team.  However, let’s try to keep a bit of an even-keel here or at least work on collective memory lapses.

Luol Deng played the exact same role in leading Duke to the national championship game.  He was a touted freshmen that gave his team a much-needed dynamic.  Kirk Hinrich led his team to consecutive Final Four appearances.  Hinrich did this with Nick Collison draped over his pasty back.  Ben Gordon actually won a national championship for a UConn team rated much like Rose’s Memphis Tigers.

Rose is a successful and talented player.  But was his pick better than a selection to address a gaping hole in the low post?  That need has been festering since Elton Brand left the Chi and John Paxson decided that we’ll have to wait a little longer.

I have never second-guessed a John Paxson draft pick (I came pretty close with the Aaron Gray pick but I gave Pax kudos for drafting a big).  However, when the Derrick Rose pick was announced, I stayed stoic and sipped my beer.  After the Heat selected Michael Beasley, my brother and I started clapping.  I’m excited to watch the Heat play and that’s not a feeling I want after my team selects first.





Luol Deng the Humanitarian

20 06 2008

I can’t think of anything better than Humanitarian following a name.  Big props to Lu for being selected as the UN Refugee Agency’s 2008  Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Not only is this guy active around Chicago, he’s active just about everywhere he goes.  He’s really a tremendous player with tremendous character and I’m one of his biggest fans.





If The Bulls Draft Rose

20 06 2008

“I thought LeBron James was the luckiest guy in the world to get to play in his home city,” says Derrick Rose, likely one of the top two picks in this year’s NBA draft.

Rose seems to have turned from his initial responses to getting drafted by the Chicago Bulls.  His first reaction was political and now, even ESPN is hyping up this new-found zeal for the Chi.

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

I’m not high on the argument that Rose’s height (he’s listed at 6’3″) and that fact that he’s from Chicago makes him the clear choice for the Bulls.  For further evidence, see a certain 6’11″ Thornwood alum.  (I realize this is a bit of a strawman but I feel that the Rose-Curry comparison is more substantial than a positive correlation of guys playing in their hometown and success).

But what happens if David Stern says Derrick Rose’s name first?

Hello Guard, Goodbye Guards

Chris Duhon was out before the regular season even ended.  That much is certain.  But drafting Derrick Rose will negate the value of Kirk Hinrich, Thabo Sefolosha and Ben Gordon.  If Larry Hughes sticks around, his value drops even more.

Except for Gordon, the Chicago Bulls guards maintain value due to their ability to handle the ball and to make plays for their teammates.  None of them are Chris Paul, obviously.  However, it seems like drafting Derrick Rose will essentially concede the offense (and the future of the franchise) to this young point guard.

And although Kirk, Thabo and Hughes have shown an ability to score the basketball.  It will take some time for them to adjust to playing off-the-ball.  It’s pretty clear that drafting Rose will signal the end of Kirk or Gordon’s career as a Bull.

The Bulls Need A Big Man

The need for a big man continues.  To bolster a front line featuring Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, the Bulls will most likely look to move one of the guards mentioned earlier.  The Bulls offense will hinge on Rose who has a dynamic floor game.  However, he hasn’t yet shown an ability to explode on the offensive end.  Regardless, the Bulls need someone to that can shoot high percentage shots.

Take a look at the offenses around the league that are structured around a dominant point guard.  Steve Nash has an Amare Stoudamire.  Chris Paul has a David West.  Deron Williams has a Carlos Boozer.   What do they have in common?  A post player that can create offense in half-court sets.

Baron Davis doesn’t have any help but we’re not looking to emulate the Warriors.  If I’m not mistaken, the Warriors are in the same exact position as the Bulls.  Advanced in the playoffs last year and missed it this year.  Yet Chicago was much more disappointed in their team than was the Bay.

Keep Luol Deng

The Bulls will need to do everything they can to keep Luol Deng.  He’s an established scorer that can play multiple positions.  His field goal percentage is incredible.  Plus, he’s a great guy.  Derrick Rose running around with Larry Hughes, Viktor Khryapa, Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah will do absolutely no good.

John Paxson needs to keep at least two scorers in the roster to have any semblance of improvement.  What was it that Kobe said in the Western Conference Finals?  “I’m not taking bread knives to a gun fight no more.”  Well, this is exactly what Rose would be doing.  Bust out the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Derrick.  We’re having a tea party!

Be Patient

By drafting Derrick Rose, the Bulls didn’t address a need.  So they’ll have to start fresh.  Being the #1 pick will put a lot of pressure on the former Simeon baller.  The fans will have to realize that they’re back to square one.  Expecting Chris Paul is unrealistic.

In summary, I really think it’s going to be tough if the Chicago Bulls bring another guard into the equation.  Especially if it’s a guard expecting to get #1 draft pick playing time and attention.  Either way, I’m looking forward to next week.





It’s All About ROI

6 06 2008

I had my own ideas on how the Chicago Bulls would rebuild the organization but this is brilliant!

Why settle for winning only part of the lottery?

“This is pretty good, this No. 1 pick, it’s true,” Bulls general manager John Paxson told reporters while watching pre-draft workouts at the United Center. “We could probably get a pretty good player. But you see, if we cash it in and play the NBA Draft Lottery some more, we have a chance to win, like, the whole draft. Our team can’t afford to pass up a chance like that.”

With such a brilliantly unconventional move, haters come out of the wood work.

Basketball experts reacted to the move with skepticism bordering on scorn.

“I really thought the big question for the Bulls would be whether to take Derrick Rose at point guard or Michael Beasley at power forward,” said Chicago Sun-Times reporter Jay Mariotti. “But now they’re going to try and win the entire draft? Typical Bulls move. They’re going to lose it all, you know. No wonder they don’t have a coach yet.”

“Do they understand the actual odds of winning a lottery are something like 30 million to one?” said ESPN’s Marc Stein. “They had a two percent chance to get even this far. They should quit while they’re ahead, or at least trade down, maybe get Brook Lopez at center, a position they really need.”

“Even if they somehow beat the odds and pull it off, look at what they’d get,” Stein added. “The 2008 Draft sucks! Kosta Koufos? Chase Budinger? Is it worth risking it all for Geert Hammink? Some jackpot.”

Luckily, Bulls management is on top of it.

“I hear these people second-guessing our decision to re-invest the top pick,” team owner Jerry Reinsdorf said Monday, “and it reminds me of 1984, when everyone wanted Hakeem Olajuwon or Sam Bowie and we wound up with a player you might have heard of named Michael Jordan. Well, just think of the entire 2008 Draft as the second coming of Michael Jordan.”

Brook Lopez?  I believe I’ve called that genius move.








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