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


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