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Columnist
For the Bulls to grow better, it all has to start with Rose
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Columnist

Derrick Rose, here addressing the media after working out for the Bulls at the Berto Center in Deerfield, will learn Thursday if he's the No. 1 choice in the 2008 NBA Draft.

 

Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

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Published: 6/23/2008 12:17 AM

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When in the course of determining which player the Bulls should select in Thursday's NBA draft, here are two things to keep in mind:

• Considering they went into the lottery with 1.7 percent of the ping-pong combinations and should have chosen ninth, the Bulls will be extremely fortunate to land one of the top two prospects, Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley. Either player would be a terrific addition, but the Bulls can only choose one.

• Also, talent evaluation is best done in person. The Bulls' scouts have watched these players perform in college. Most sportswriters who followed the Bulls exclusively last season have not, which makes this task more difficult.

On television, Dwyane Wade appeared to be a very good player when he led Marquette to the Final Four in 2003. But 30 seconds into the first Bulls-Heat game of his rookie season, it was obvious he was something special. Speed and athleticism seem to pop out when watching live.

But a case can still be made, and ever since the night of the draft lottery I've suggested the Bulls are leaning strongly toward Rose.

It's a tough call, because neither Rose nor Beasley is a sure-fire NBA superstar, and both players would fill a huge need in the Bulls' lineup.

In a nutshell, I'd say if Beasley was 6-feet-10, the Bulls couldn't pass him up. At 6-8 ¼ in shoes, which is what he measured at the Orlando predraft camp, he's difficult to project.

There isn't a good comparison for Beasley in the league right now. He seems to be sort of an Al Jefferson-Carmelo Anthony hybrid who can score inside, but has impressive perimeter skills. He posted better statistics at Kansas State last season than rookie of the year Kevin Durant did in his lone year at Texas.

Not one of those three players has had great success in the NBA. Jefferson (Minnesota) and Durant (Seattle) played on two of the league's worst teams. Anthony's Nuggets have been pretty good, but his career record in playoff games is 4-20.

Is Beasley good enough to be a superstar who can carry a team? Probably not. Most of those players fall into the athletic wing player category, smaller than Beasley but with guard skills. We're talking about people like Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade.

I've always said beware of the combo forward who is not big enough to dominate inside or quick enough to beat opposing wing players to the basket. Beasley may have all-star potential, but he seems to fall into this category.

On the other side, people often point out that a point guard hasn't been the best player on a championship team since Detroit's Isiah Thomas in 1989-90.

True, but point guards have made a powerful impact on team success in recent years. Chris Paul (New Orleans) and Deron Williams (Utah) have turned their teams around. Phoenix posted the league's best record after signing Steve Nash. New Jersey went to the Finals twice after trading for Jason Kidd.

Based on his play at Memphis last season, Rose's court vision has room to improve. But the Bulls have two reasons to feel confident about selecting the Chicago native.

The first is he's a spectacular athlete, one of the fastest to enter the draft this decade with a 40-inch vertical leap. With the NBA trying to outlaw hand-checks and promote higher-scoring games, Rose could run wild in the pro game.

Also encouraging is his history of winning: two state titles at Simeon, and carrying Memphis to within five seconds of a national title.

Keep in mind, Memphis had more talent in past years with Rodney Carney and Shawne Williams, but fell short of the Final Four. Rose had just one teammate, Chris Douglas-Roberts, who's a good bet to play in the NBA.

The NBA's final four teams from this season don't provide much of a blueprint for the Bulls, because they all had tall, high-scoring wing players (Pierce, Bryant, Manu Ginobili, Rip Hamilton) and a 7-footer who could score near the basket (Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan, Rasheed Wallace).

The Bulls have none of the above, so they'll have to try to generate a new formula for winning. It all starts with Rose.

Epic battle, small stage

Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley could collide on a basketball court very soon. The opening day of the Orlando summer league on July 7 will feature a game between the Bulls and Miami Heat, owners of the top two picks in Thursday's NBA draft.

Of course, there is no guarantee that this year's top two draft prospects will suit up that day, though the event is geared toward rookies, young reserves and free agents seeking a job.

If you're thinking about going, don't bother. The Orlando summer league is held on the Magic's practice court and is not open to the public.

Last year, the Bulls took part in two summer leagues. This time, Orlando is the only one. Here's the full schedule for the Bulls' summer squad:

• July 7 vs. Miami, 4 p.m.

• July 8 vs. Indiana, 6 p.m.

• July 9 vs. Orlando, 2 p.m.

• July 10 vs. New Jersey, 2 p.m.

• July 11 vs. Seattle, noon

(All times are approximate)

-- Mike McGraw

Quotable

"An unselfish guard that's willing to do anything to win. I mean, anything."

Derrick Rose, when asked to describe himself as a player

"Hungry. An animal. A rebounder, scorer, pretty much whatever the team needs. I never want to step on the court and be second best. That's not fun to me. I like to make everything competitive. I want to be the best."

Michael Beasley, when asked to describe himself as a player