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Dave McMenamin

Rookie Rankings

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Rose, Armstrong turning into a perfect pair

By Dave McMenamin,
Posted Mar 26 2009 7:41AM

Before B.J. Armstrong will talk about his first client as an agent's player representative, Derrick Rose, he wants to get one thing straight: This is Derrick's time. Armstrong isn't some Drew Rosenhaus-type sprouting out of T.O. like a two-headed monster whenever a camera is around.

Armstrong already had his run of 11 seasons in the league, including three championship rings from his days with the Bulls.

But when you talk about Rose, the No. 1 pick in the draft who is trying to lift Chicago back to the postseason, you have to mention the amazing circumstances that have tied him to Armstrong.

Not only was Armstrong a former NBA player, representing a NBA player, he was a point guard representing a point guard. Not only was he a point guard representing a point guard, but he was a point guard who played professionally in Chicago where his client grew up. And not only did this former Bulls running mate of Michael Jordan end up representing the kid from Simeon Academy in the Chicago Public League who wore No. 23 in college in honor of MJ, but his client ended up being drafted by the Bulls even though the team only had a 1.7 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick in the lottery.

When that many things line up, you stop using words like "coincidence" and start going for "fate" and "destiny." How else can you explain Armstrong leaving his post-playing career path of scouting and working as a TV analyst to become an agent and having the first player he ever represented be the No. 1 pick?

"He's way more than an agent," Rose says as his normally stoic face lights up. "I talk to him everyday, I can talk to him about anything and I look at him as a big brother ... he's a great person."

Line of the Week
Brook Lopez (NJN)
March 18 at NYK
23 pts, 5 reb, 8 ast
11-20 FG, 3 stl, 3 blk

In the world of corrupt agents seeping their way into prep stars' collective consciousness by the time players reach their early teens, the way Armstrong came across Rose is refreshing.

"Just kind of being in the basketball world, I had known him," Armstrong says. "That's kind of how I met him; he was a high school legend here in Chicago. I don't think anyone who follows basketball didn't know who Derrick Rose was."

Armstrong credits Rose's family for trusting him with the No. 1 pick's career. "They've really allowed me to just kind of be there and help him along the path," Armstrong says.

That path includes what Armstrong calls the duality of the NBA experience: the person and the player.

"The basketball part of it is the easiest part of it," Armstrong says. "The other part of it is the person. Derrick is transitioning from a young man who was in college a year ago and two years ago he was in high school and now he's a professional. He has a different set of circumstances with a different set of problems that he's been thrust into."

Then it's a good thing for Rose that Armstrong sees a lot of the same qualities in him that he used to observe from that guy Jordan he used to play with.

"The thing about these great players is that they can't fake it," Armstrong says. "Michael was Michael when the camera wasn't on. That's Derrick too, that's just who he is. When he's playing ping-pong or cards or whatever he's doing, I can assure you, he's figuring out a way to win.

"One of my favorite stories was over the spring time we met [Knicks rookie] Danilo Gallinari, who speaks Italian and he was speaking Italian at the dinner table. Derrick was just kind of watching and he was like, 'Man, that was pretty cool, he can speak another language.' So he asked if we could help him learn how to speak Spanish, like get him a self-taught book for dummies or one of those things that you buy in the bookstore because he wanted to learn, he wanted to be in on conversations. That's him. He always wants to figure things out."

Armstrong uses another lesson he learned from Jordan to help navigate Rose's career away from the pitfalls of stardom.

"I watched the whole Jordan thing from the inside out and in watching Michael and speaking with him and talking with him for all those years, there's only one thing he talked about: performance," Armstrong says.

"He never talked about wanting to be a star, he never talked about endorsements, he only talked about performance and how he felt obligated to perform because every time he got on the floor he always said, 'This may be the only time that this person will ever get a chance to see me play and I want to make sure that I make an impression on him.' "

Even though Rose signed endorsement deals with adidas and Wilson, you don't see him fretting about his appearance anywhere but what he does for 48 minutes on the court.

"Derrick wants to win at everything he does and I love that about him," Armstrong says. "That's just who he is. I think it's his greatest gift. That's what the great ones do, they just want to win ... Performance is the key. Greatness performs. Marketing and all those things, those are just terms."

Armstrong, working for the Wasserman Media Group and Rose's technical agent, Arn Tellem, is looking to add more clients in the future, but wants to replicate the real relationship he has with Rose.

"I had a dream as a young man to play in the NBA and do all these things and here is another young man that has the same dream that I had just some 20-25 years ago, and to watch him do it from afar is great, because somebody gave me that same chance. It's just giving back what someone gave to you -- it just seems very natural to me."

Korleone Young Drop of the Week: M. Gasol MEM (-2)

Eddie Gottlieb Rise of the Week: K. Love MIN (+2)

Overall Rankings - Week 21

1. Derrick Rose, G, Chicago
71 36.9 16.5 3.7
0.8 0.2 .466 .235 .798
Last Week: 2 | Drafted: 1
On the same day Russell Westbrook moved ahead of Rose in these rankings, Rose raised his game in a head-to-head matchup with Westbrook and the Thunder, putting up 25 points, six rebounds and three assists to Westbrook's 15, two and six in Chicago's 103-96 victory. Rose's time back atop the rankings could be short lived if he continues to miss time with the bruised right wrist that caused him to sit out his first game all season. Rose needs to play to win Rookie of the Year and the Bulls need Rose to play to make the playoffs.

2. Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City
71 32.6 15.7 4.8 5.1 1.3 0.2 .401 .287 .824
Last Week: 1 | Drafted: 4
Westbrook's shooting percentage dipped precariously close to the NBA's Mendoza Line of 40 percent after combining to hit just 4-for-21 against the Timberwolves and Lakers. Still, as others are starting to notice, right now it looks like Rose and Westbrook have separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

3. Brook Lopez, C, New Jersey
70 30.5 12.9 7.8 1.1 0.6
.524 .000 .826
Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 10
Lopez showed off his versatility against the Knicks, distributing a career-best eight assists and obliterating his previous best of three. Lopez passed out of the post adeptly and the Nets shot a blistering 58.8 percent on the way to a 26-point rout of New York.

4. O.J. Mayo, G, Memphis
3.9 3.0 1.1 0.2 .435 .386 .877
Last Week: 4 | Drafted: 3
Mayo scored 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting in his last game against the Heat, perhaps a sign of him peeking his head out of the prolonged slump he's been stuck in for the last 20-plus games. "Something I've struggled with more than anything on the offensive end is probably playing off the ball," Mayo told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "I know I have to get better in that area."

5. Eric Gordon, G, L.A. Clippers
67 33.5 15.5 2.4 2.7 1.0 0.5 .449 .379 .856
Last Week: 5 | Drafted: 7
Gordon got his 20 (actually it was 26 in a win against the Wizards) following his 1-for-8 stinker as we predicted here last week, but the rest of his week didn't go quite as well. Gordon followed the Washington game with 22 points in a loss to Detroit, 11 in a loss to Toronto and eight on just 3-for-12 shooting against the Celtics.

6. Kevin Love, F, Minnesota
71 25.1 10.8
1.1 0.4 0.6 .462 .125 .790
Last Week: 8 | Drafted: 5
Love has improved dramatically since the first month of the season. In November, he averaged 8.4 points on 38.1 percent shooting and 6.1 rebounds. In March, he's averaging 15.3 points on 45.7 percent shooting and 9.6 rebounds.

7. Michael Beasley, F, Miami
69 24.3 13.3 5.1 0.9 0.5 0.5 .465 .387 .777
Last Week: 7 | Drafted: 2
With Miami making a play for the East's No. 4 seed and home court in the first round of the playoffs, Udonis Haslem had a message for Beasley and fellow rookie Mario Chalmers: We need you and we need you now. "I thought he was going to punch me," Beasley told the Miami Herald about Haslem demanding more of him. "He was -- he was mean." So far it's paid off. Beasley followed up his paltry three points against the Pistons with 17 points in his next game against the Grizzlies.

8. Marc Gasol, C, Memphis
70 30.6 11.4 7.5 1.8 0.8 1.1
.000 .720
Last Week: 6 | Drafted: 48 by L.A. Lakers in 2007
Gasol slumped in four games last week, averaging just 8.5 points on just 41 percent shooting and 6.5 rebounds per game, well below his season numbers in all three categories.

9. Jason Thompson, F, Sacramento
70 27.1 10.5 7.1 1.1 0.6 0.6 .493 .000 .701
Last Week: 10 | Drafted: 12
Thompson has done a lot to keep himself on my radar with his Twitter account, "jtthekid." My favorite tweet he's posted since I started following him was, "March madness is here tweeps. My Final 4 picks- Uconn. Louisville. Pitt n Syracuse." For obvious reasons.

10. D.J. Augustin, G, Charlotte
60 26.2 11.4 1.8 3.7 0.5 0.0 .421 .427 .905
Last Week: 9 | Drafted: 9
Augustin didn't have the best week individually, averaging just 5.3 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game, but the Bobcats still took care of business by winning two out of three games to draw within two games of the Bulls for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
RED = Rookie Leader (Must Qualify)

The Next 10 (alphabetical order): Mario Chalmers (MIA), Rudy Fernandez (POR), Roy Hibbert (IND), Courtney Lee (ORL), Luc Mbah a Moute (MIL), JaVale McGee (WAS), Anthony Morrow (GSW), Greg Oden (POR), Anthony Randolph (GSW), Kyle Weaver (PHI)



Greg Oden (POR) returned slowly from his chipped kneecap injury last week, averaging 6.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and one block a night in just 14.5 minutes per game. Those numbers are encouraging but his 4.3 fouls per game average in his first four games aren't. .
Rudy Fernandez (POR) started to find his stroke, averaging 11.8 points and hitting 10 threes over four games last week. .
Chris Douglas Roberts (NJN) played 20 minutes or more in back-to-back games for the first time all season and rewarded Lawrence Frank for his faith by averaging 16 points on 73.3 percent shooting with 3.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals in consecutive wins against the Knicks and Heat. .
Danilo Gallinari (NYK) left the team to fly to Italy to see a specialist for his lingering back pain. It is likely he will miss the rest of the season.
JaVale McGee (WAS) has won over Wizards interim head coach Ed Tapscott with improved pick-and-roll defense. The defense has led to playing time, which has led to increased offensive production as well. McGee averaged 11.5 points and five rebounds in four games last week.

The HNPAMY (Have Not Played A Minute Yet) Club: D.J. White (OKC)
D-League Watch: Sun Yue was re-assigned to the Los Angeles D-Fenders by the L.A. Lakers; Nathan Jawai was recalled from the Idaho Stampede by Toronto; D.J. White was recalled from the Tulsa 66ers by Oklahoma City; Darnell Jackson was recalled from the Erie Bayhawks by Cleveland; J.R. Giddens was re-assigned to the Utah Flash by Boston

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