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.








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