Okay, one more sports-related post for you.
My opportunity to follow both college and professional basketball has been severely curtailed of late by the presence of a certain Little One in my life, but that won’t stop me from disagreeing with Matt Yglesias’s analysis of what my Bulls should do with their pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft:
… thought [sic] Derrick Rose looks like a fine basketball player, talk of picking him ahead of Michael Beasley seems kind of crazy to me …
Beasley scores way more (26.2 versus 14.9) on better shooting from the field (.532 versus .477) from the line (.774 versus .712) and from beyond the arc (.379 versus .337). Beasley’s a forward who snags 12.4 rebounds per game (to Rose’s 4.5) while Rose is a guard who gets 4.7 assists per game to Beasley’s 1.2 while their turnovers are similar (2.9 for Beasley to 2.7 for Rose).
A few points. First of all, anyone will tell you that the NBA is a guard’s league right now, and Rose – quarterbacking a team that was inches away from winning a national championship and doing so as a FRESHMAN – put up numbers (14.9 ppg, .477 FG%, .337 3P%, 4.5 reb, 4.7 ast, 2.7 TO, 1.2 stl) that compared quite favorably to those that Chris Paul (14.8 ppg, .496 FG%, .465 3P%, 3.3 reb, 5.9 ast, 2.6 TO, 2.7 stl) and Deron Williams (6.3 ppg, .426 FG%, .354 3P%, 3.0 reb, 4.5 ast, 1.8 TO, 1.4 stl), who as anyone will tell you are the inescapable future of the game, managed in their own respective freshman seasons. Obviously Beasley is a tremendous talent with the potential to be genuinely great in the NBA, but the Bulls are looking to win soon, and as Kevin Durant will tell you, that doesn’t happen without strength in the backcourt.
Secondly, it seems to me that Chicago’s team-specific needs are more pronounced at the point guard position than they are up front. Kirk Hinrich has had a good run, but it’s nearing its end, and the Bulls have several big or biggish men – Luol Deng at small forward, Tyrus Thomas (in whom I have not yet lost hope) and the annoying but capable Drew Gooden at the “4”, and Jo Noah in the middle – of the sort you can win with. Adding a good-sized, ball-pushing, “true” point guard who’s already a very solid defender seems to me to make more sense than increasing the logjam up front with a player who’s primarily a jump-shooter rather than a true banger. Again, this is not to deny that Beasley will be very, very good very, very soon – but he’s not the sort of player who can run an offense.
Finally there are the “character” issues. What I have in mind here is not so much the concerns about Beasley as the fact that Rose is a hometown kid who has been very open about how excited he’d be to play for the Bulls. (Not that this worked out great for Chicago last time they tried it.) He’s also extremely competitive, and has already played in a major pressure-cooker environment in Memphis, and so seems to me to be the kind of player who could help to change the mindset of a squad that is very much in need of a new outlook. Could Beasley help to do this too? Sure, but he’s much less likely to step in and be a leader from Day One.
All in all, it’s a great position to be in, and the Bulls can’t go wrong either way. If I were an NBA exec, though, and I saw what Paul and Williams had done in bringing their respective franchises back from the pits, I’d lean toward indulging the hope that Derrick Rose can do the same. And so I sure hope that Chad Ford is right about where things stand in Chicago.