Gunnin’ Gordon

25 11 2008

I’m going to tell you something that you might not know:

It’s Ben Gordon’s contract year.

But shhh!, don’t tell anyone.  Ben doesn’t know that we’re on to him.

The guy’s a gunner.  He scores and he doesn’t do too much else.  And that’s fine but is it too much to ask him to make an extra pass to the open man?

If Ben gets an outlet pass, he acts as if Derrick Rose isn’t in the building and he brings the ball up himself.  His favorite play seems to be where Drew Gooden sets a pick at the free-throw line extended so that Ben can drive floorside.  He then forces up a shot at  the freethrow line regardless of how many hands are in his face.

Ben, along with Rose, leads the Chicago Bulls in field goal attempts at about 15.5 shots per game.  He’s hitting them at a very good 48.5% clip.  Clearly, he’s their number one option with Luol Deng hurt.  And although his attempts are up from last year’s 14.9 FGA, he’s also playing three more minutes.

So I can’t get too down on Ben but is it too much to ask for two passes per possession?

Vinny Del Negro admitted that there isn’t much offensive variety in his playbook.  Vinny wants to make it simple for a rookie point guard by streamlining plays.  But the Bulls’ offense gets so stagnant at times.  They don’t make the defense move and their offensive tendencies are plainer than Pam from The Office.

Wouldn’t you get bored forcing the same shot over and over again?

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.

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.

Nightmare on Madison Street II

21 05 2008

Since 2000, the Chicago Bulls have selected the following big men in the first round:

Joakim Noah
LaMarcus Aldridge
Eddy Curry
Marcus Fizer

I can see David Stern coming out from underneath that NBA Draft logo. He’s smiling as he shows the New York audience a ballot with the Chicago Bulls logo. Stern approached the podium with delight.

After months of anticipation and hype, with the first pick in the 2008 NBA draft, the Chicago Bulls select…

Brook Lopez! A center from Stanford!