Ever since General Manager John Paxson sold his soul to David Stern and the Chicago Bulls beat the 98.3 percent odds of winning the draft lottery, the Internet has been rife with arguments over whom Chicago should take with the first pick of the draft: Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley.
It's an epic debate reminiscent of Greg Oden vs. Kevin Durant last year, but there's even more at stake for the Bulls. What makes this decision especially intriguing is that Rose and Beasley provide platinum-level solutions to the Bulls' two biggest needs: competent playmaking at the point and reliable low-post scoring. Well, if you need both, why not take both?
Yes, I know, this sounds like another half-assed idea from some message board usually littered with idiot homers trying to argue how Manu Ginobili is better than Kobe Bryant and other ideas that could only be conceived by 14-year-old kids who spend way too much time in their parents' basements trying to break the password on the Net Nanny.
And we've all seen Chicago try the Baby Bulls scheme back in 2001 by drafting high schoolers Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry second and fourth, and then watched it blow up in their face. But this one can work.
There's a chance—not a good one—but a chance that Chicago can get both Rose and Beasley. I'm going to tell you how they can, and then I'm going to tell you why they should.
There is one significant difference between this decision for the top pick, and the Portland Trailblazer's decision last year between Oden and Durant. Whether Portland took Oden or Durant first last year, Seattle would have gladly taken the other second. That's not the case this year.
Miami wants Derrick Rose. I couldn't tell you why. Although Rose and Dwyane Wade would form the most athletic backcourt in the league, you're essentially starting two sub-6'4" combo guards with suspect jump shots who both want to drive and are going to be undersized defending the larger two guards in the league.
I suppose he's still a better choice than taking Beasley and watching Shawn Marion crap his pants realizing he just got stuck with Nash-Stoudemire II, then opting out of his contract, but whatever. That's not Chicago's concern.
All they need to know is that Miami wants Rose and is threatening to trade the pick if he's taken first. Now some of you may think that Pat Riley isn't crazy enough to trade the opportunity to draft a top-shelf talent like Michael Beasley. Counterpoint: Yes, he is.
So Chicago tells Miami, "Hey, we're drafting Rose. Take that." He's off the board. Riley starts shopping around the pick. Chicago comes back and says, "Well, now that you mention it, we have a few guys available." Honestly, after the season they just had, nobody should be untouchable. This is where it gets tricky.
Remember the last few years when Chicago had all that young talent and was constantly in trade rumors for guys like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Pau Gasol? Those days are gone.
Now talents like Ben Gordon and Luol Deng have become restricted free agents, while signed veterans like Kirk Hinrich and Andres Nocioni won't get nearly equal value in return after the flop of a season the entire team had last year. Still, while any deal may seem implausible, they are not impossible.
- The Steve Francis Plan—Larry Hughes, congratulations on spinning 61 productive games into $60 million. You're a champ to underachievers everywhere, and to reward you, you won't ever have to show up to work again. That's right, you and the $38 million left on your contract is being waived. That puts Chicago under the cap.
Then trade Tyrus Thomas for Mark Blount's ridiculous contract and the No. 2 pick. Miami gets a high-risk/high-reward prospect who could potentially fill in for Shawn Marion (hahaha!) if Marion chooses to opt out, and they get rid of a contract they are dying to take off the books (actually not even close to as bad as Hughes's).
Chicago gets to team up Derrick Rose with Michael Beasley. Or, if Miami doesn't even care about Thomas, Chicago can waive Chris Duhon and absorb Mark Blount's contract directly for either draft pick or straight cash money, but Duhon deserves better than that.
- The Vlade Divac for Kobe Bryant Plan—Either through the use of sorcery or by slipping crack into Riley's cognac, convince Pat that Kirk Hinrich is the answer to their point guard problems. Trade Hinrich for Blount, Daequan Cook, and the pick.
Hinrich is a Base Year Compensation (BYC) player, so then dump Cedric Simmons plus cash to the Memphis Grizzlies to make the trade go through. The Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol for five guys from the local YMCA to get his contract off their salary, and their two big men now are the two biggest draft busts of the new century (Hi Kwame and Darko!). They'll take your money and your guy.
- Something OK for Something Bad—Trade Tyrus Thomas for Marcus Banks and the pick. Thomas is unproven, just like Beasley, but he'll be making less money for less years.
- Pick for Picks—Give Miami your next three picks for their No. 2 pick this year. I'm a firm believer that smart teams are built through the draft, where talent comes cheap and doesn't tie up the salary cap, but if you're teaming Rose and Beasley with the Bulls' current cast, you got yourself a contender. Probably why this one will never happen.
(Altermately, Miami is trying to throw Dwyane Wade at Chicago for the No. 1 pick and pair up Rose with Beasley)
I don't see it happening. Wade is a BYC player like Hinrich, but he makes so much more that there isn't a team with enough space under the cap before the draft that can absorb the extra $3-5 million Miami would have to dump. Then again, it could happen later in the summer when other teams start freeing up more cap space.
By the way, this is going completely off what ESPN Trade Machine is telling me, so blame them if I sound like an idiot right now. Whatever Chicago does, it should not, under any circumstances, trade Joakim Noah. Do not trade Joakim Noah. To be explained later.
So why believe in Rose and Beasley so much? For one, Derrick Rose is a superstar point guard in the making. Playmaking did not seem like a weakness for the Chicago Bulls, what with the Kirk Hinrich and Chris Duhon platoon holding down the one spot with no complaints.
But last season, though everyone underperformed, both point guards—especially Hinrich—decided to put a postage stamp on the entire season and take a mental vacation. Taking a look at 82games.com, one can easily see that PG was the Bulls' least productive position, and both guard positions put up subpar resistance against the opposition.
Even assuming that Hinrich and Duhon just had down years and will return to their previous productivity, Rose is a clear upgrade for the Bulls. He has the speed and tenacity of Chris Paul combined with the strength and size of Deron Williams (actually he's 1/2" taller than Williams).If he lives up to that potential, he will be All-NBA one day.
Yet if Chicago just drafts him alone, as seems to be the popular choice, it doesn't resolve the main issue they have had since they let go of Eddy "The Buffet Destroyer" Curry, which is a complete lack of reliable scoring in the post.
Ever since Curry left, the Bulls' Achilles heel has always been that they were a team that lived and died by the jump shot. When the defense tightens up, the lanes in the paint clog, and every jumper on the perimeter is contested, teams need that force to score the easy buckets down low.
Beasley is that force, plus he adds the elite rebounding (he led the NCAA in rebounding last year) that Curry could only possess if you were bouncing Krispy Kremes off a wall.
Take a look at the successful teams with top point guards today. They all are paired up with someone who can get it done in the post. Steve Nash has Amare Stoudemire in Phoenix. Tony Parker has Tim Duncan in San Antonio. Deron Williams has Carlos Boozer in Utah.
The best example, however, is Chris Paul in New Orleans. He has a post scorer in David West, who can also step out and hit the 22-footer here and there. Paul also has Tyson Chandler, who isn't a great scorer but is an elite rebounder and defender.
Beasley is an even better scorer, shooter, and rebounder than West is. Also, like West, he's criticized as being undersized (6'8", 6'9" in shoes) for the position. How will he handle the responsibility of matching up against taller power forwards like Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace? The answer is that he won't.
That's why you don't want to get rid of 7-footer Joakim Noah, the more energetic and motivated version of Tyson Chandler. Noah has what it takes to be an elite post defender, and he is the key to allowing Beasley to concentrate on dominating on offense without worrying about having enough in the tank to stop the giants of the league on the other end.
Without significant cap room to pursue free agents like Elton Brand, Jermaine O'Neal, or Gilbert Arenas, Chicago has to build through the draft. With Rose, Beasley, and Noah all on board, Chicago would have the new generation of the Baby Bulls. This core, if able to mesh successfully in the next couple years, could contend for the Championship in the next decade.