Once esteemed as an Eastern Conference contender, the Bulls underachieved last season, losing 16 more games than the year before despite maintaining, even upgrading, the roster.
That roster toppled the defending-champion Miami Heat in last year's playoffs, and put up a fight against the Detroit Pistons in the second round.
The additions of rookie Joakim Noah and Joe Smith were to provide a front court upgrade over departing veteran P.J. Brown.
Luol Deng, entering his third season, was expected to have a career year, and approach the top tier of the league's forwards.
The playoff experience of winning a series was supposed to help the young core of Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Deng, and Andres Nocioni take the proverbial step forward to professionalism, poise, and leadership.
Instead, failed contract negotiations managed to unhinge the team and slow its progress early in the season, leading to what was essentially a resignation by their coach, Scott Skiles, and a disastrous season reminiscent of the Jalen Rose era.
I would like to think that winning the top pick in this year's draft is more a reward for the suffering fans than a reprieve for the organization's failings.
The Bulls don't deserve it, not for forsaking their hard-nosed defensive identity, for allowing the business side to affect their performance, for playing with the confidence of a fourth grade Biddy Ball team.
One of the classiest, hardest-working teams in the league devolved into a bickering, alienated squad destined to be broken up sooner rather than later.
Now, the organization can be fixed in one fell swoop:
Derrick Rose in a Bulls uniform is non-negotiable.
He will be unparalleled at the point guard position due to his size, speed, athleticism, and strength. His court vision rivals that of the game's premiere point guards. His jump shot is solid, and he finishes at the hoop like Dwyane Wade. He also plays lockdown defense.
But more importantly than his basketball skills, Rose distinguishes himself from the present Bulls and supercedes the talents of Michael Beasley in one crucial way: Leadership.
There are great players, and there are great leaders. Derrick Rose dictates both the nature of a game and the demeanor of his teammates. And despite the overt attempts of Noah last season, the Bulls have no leader.
Among all of their flaws, the lack of leadership, of an "I will beat you" mentality, is the sorest. Rose's jaw-dropping ability and relentless drive will galvanize a talented Bulls roster that's in need of a kick in the posterior.
Unless a leader is injected into the Bulls roster, the team will revert to its worst habits and need to be rebuilt yet again.
For the Beasley supporters, I will grant you that Kirk Hinrich is a point guard, and that he is currently on the Bulls roster.
But you're deluding yourself if you think the position is solidified.
Imagine a guard who can slash to the hoop. Imagine him having the vision to find a wide open Ben Gordon or Andres Nocioni every time on a drive-and-dish.
Imagine a fast break that's more "fast" than "trip over your feet and fall down."
Imagine a pick and roll with Noah or Tyrus Thomas, reminiscent of Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler. Imagine having a go-to shooter down the stretch.
Imagine a top-five point guard running your team for years to come, a player with the drive and skill to be one of the game's very best.
The Bulls don't deserve Derrick Rose. They don't deserve to instantly add their missing piece. And if they decide they like Michael Beasley better, they don't deserve my money next season.
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