With the upcoming NBA draft less than a week away, everyone seems to have an opinion on the critical question that is still up in the air. Who will go number one?
Barring any blockbuster deals, Chicago and Miami are going to be the two lucky teams that leave draft day with the most coveted players in this draft, Memphis guard Derrick Rose and K-State forward Michael Beasley.
Almost everyone seems to agree that both will turn out to be productive NBA players. However, nothing is ever absolutely certain in the world of sports. With so much on the line, Chicago would love to follow in the footsteps of Boston and give new life to its downtrodden franchise.
So which player will deliver? Will it be the hometown hero, or the out-of-state savior? The pure point guard, or the versatile scorer?
Again, nothing is for sure. But if I were a betting man, it would be hard to place my chips against Derrick Rose.
While many will argue that Beasley is too potent a weapon to pass up, Chicago needs more than just a scorer. The city needs a leader.
The character and maturity concerns associated with Beasley don't help his case. When I look at what both of these players accomplished individually this past season, it's hard to ignore the job that Derrick Rose did for a team that was one basket away from winning the national championship.
The point guard position in basketball is very comparable to the quarterback position in football. Both positions require poise and are vital to the team’s success. Without a high-caliber quarterback that can control the offense with efficiency a football team cannot expect to compete for a championship—and the same goes for point guards and basketball.
Not to take anything away from Beasley's season, because statistically it was arguably one of the best we'll ever see. But it's a lot harder to run a team through fluid offense as a freshman, in a situation with high expectations, than it is to get your own every night and just worry about putting the ball in the basket.
But what puts Rose over the top in my opinion was his performance in the national championship game.
The kid threw up an absolute stinker in the first half, and didn't score for an entire 24 minutes after making his first basket. He couldn't buy a basket, his penetration was contained, and he was a turnover machine. All of a sudden, it looked as if the young freshman had finally been exposed.
But then Rose did what all great leaders do—he came through when his team needed him the most.
He settled down, and through a courageous show of resilience made huge plays for his team down the stretch. He scored 14 of the team's 16 points in its comeback rally to take the lead.
Yes, as we all know, Memphis did end up losing that game, and some will even blame it on one of Rose's missed free throws that could have sealed the deal. But don't buy it. Without Rose's bounce-back performance, that team wouldn't have had a prayer. He was the catalyst that got the Tigers going again.
Rose showed the world something that night—that he has the intangibles and the leadership qualities to take over and guide through example. That is much more valuable than mere points and rebounds.
Both players are athletic specimens, and I have no doubt both are physically ready to make an impact on the next level. But the question to ask is, which player is mentally ready to carry a franchise out of the doldrums?
The Bulls have talent, but they don't have a leader. Just as a number 23 was able to save the franchise over two decades ago, I wouldn't put it past this number 23 to do the same.