Darius Morris vs. Derrick Rose: Welcome to the NBA, Rookie

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IDecember 24, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Darius Morris #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a last second three pointer in front of Brian Cook #34 and Ryan Gomes #15 of the Los Angeles Clippers during the first quarter at Staples Center on December 19, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

If you were to compare the respective rosters of the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls in anticipation of their Christmas Day regular-season opener, the Bulls would seem to have a clear advantage.

The five-game suspension of Lakers center Andrew Bynum and the departure of forward Lamar Odom could make for a very long night in the paint for the Lakers against the Bulls talented interior players.

Last Christmas, the Lakers celebrated the holiday by getting blown out by LeBron James Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat, and the Laker formerly known as Ron Artest capped the evening off by taking a (drunken?) tumble down the stairs of his home after the game.

That sequence of events may have been in the running for the title of Lakers low moment of the year, but the Bulls have the opportunity to make the anniversary of that defeat just as miserable this time around.

Reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose unquestionably enjoys the contest's biggest advantage in individual matchups, and the image of Derek Fisher and Steve Blake attempting to contain Rose sends shivers down my spine.

Rose is bigger, stronger, quicker and more athletic than Fisher or Blake, and the presence of Richard Hamilton in the Bulls backcourt means the Lakers could be forced to choose their own poison.

Last season, Kobe Bryant drew the defensive assignment on Rose and in their game in Los Angeles it was an effective strategy because the Bulls didn't have a legitimate offensive option at shooting guard.

Hamilton's scoring ability will make it difficult for new Lakers coach Mike Brown to employ the same tactic, so the Lakers may have to take a defense by committee approach when it comes to Rose.

Brown may give every player who sees any game action a shot at guarding Rose with the exception of Pau Gasol, but could the Lakers best hope of slowing Rose down lie in a rookie point guard?

Lakers rookie Darius Morris was impressive in his professional debut against the Los Angeles Clippers going 5-9 shooting from the field and finishing with 11 points, three assists and three rebounds.

Those offensive numbers are pretty good for a rookie taking his first NBA step but against the Bulls any measure of success for Morris will be found on the defensive end of the floor.

Defense is usually the hardest part of the professional game for a rookie to master since it takes some time adjusting to the transition from college rules.

But at Michigan, Morris gained a reputation for his defense, and he may be the only player on the Lakers roster who can match Rose's combination of size and quickness.

At 6'4, Morris is one inch taller than Rose, and while he may not be as strong, Morris does have the length and defensive range to at least make a potential matchup interesting.

Of course, none of this means that the player coach Brown has dubbed "Wheels" should be expected to shut down one of the league's truly elite point guards, but it could be a rewarding learning experience, even if Rose does light Morris up from the field.

If Brown does allow Morris an opportunity to play on Christmas, I'm almost certain Rose will at some point officially welcome him to the NBA, but I can't think of a better way for Morris to cut his teeth by being baptized by the league's reigning MVP.


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