Sam Smith: Bulls find 'The One' in Derrick Rose
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It's not easy to find The One.
I believe the Bulls have him, and the goal of this season that begins at the United Center Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks will be to construct or create a team that fits around Derrick Rose.
Not that I'm trying to put extra pressure on the kid, but you sign the contract to play in the NBA and excuse time is over. I don't think this kid will mind. Before very long I think he's going to be as good or better than Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
We've seen what they've been able to do for their teams, and in this NBA, with the rules geared to allowing the perimeter players to do more than the inside players, Rose should be a great one.
"You need to start with a star," writes Sam Smith. "I think the Bulls finally have one. Two would enable them to start dreaming again."
He's bigger than Paul and quicker than Williams. He has a penchant for defense, which isn't the specialty of either of those All-Stars. Rose isn't about to be at their level yet, but in time his strength and fantastic athleticism gives him a chance to be a truly special player.
They don't come along often, and, in fact, the last one the Bulls had like this was Michael Jordan 25 years ago. Elton Brand was good, but hardly the star at 6-8 you build a team around. Same, as we know, with Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry. Right idea. Wrong guys. Scottie Pippen wasn't that No. 1, as we found out.
Rose is a No. 1.
So what you do is figure out who fits around him and who doesn't, which is what this season should be about, and also spend your time figuring out who does and try to get those players.
Jerry Krause had it right when he took over the Bulls.
Within two seasons of drafting Jordan, 10 of the top 12 players on that 1984-85 team were gone with only Jordan and Dave Corzine left. The Bulls never, truly, have had a special player since Jordan. They've had special complementary players, which is what they mostly have now. They're nice and can be an exciting, entertaining package.
But the ultimate truth in the NBA is you win with stars.
The Boston Celtics were a great example last season, if there's only a relatively short window there. You put together stars and you've got a chance.
The Bulls are much farther away with a young, undeveloped one in Rose, but it is a start.
So can you get the other guys to fit well around him? It really will be up to them, and it's not always easy if it's a kid who just turned 20. But it looks like he has it.
Rose, in part because of the rules in this era's NBA, can get anywhere he wants on the floor. If you cannot touch him, which didn't exist when Jordan played because of so called hand checking in the back, there's almost no way to guard Rose.
So you have your player who not only should draw double teams, but put defenses on the defensive and out of position.
I believe Michael Beasley, the No. 2 pick in the draft, will be a good scorer immediately in Miami. But he's small for a power forward and already is talking about playing more face up basketball because of the size of NBA front court players. Think a bigger version of Adrian Dantley, as one scout told me.
This is what I'd do to start if I were the Bulls.
I'd have Rose at point guard and Luol Deng at shooting guard with Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich taking turns off the bench playing with him. I'd go with Deng and his size also because he has the potential to play out of the post. The Bulls need someone to throw the ball to in the post, even if he's a guard or small forward. I suppose Drew Gooden would do, but given him being in his final season of his contract and on something of a league wide audition, I'm not sure I'd want to spend too much time watching him score. Or try.
Though Deng isn't quite athletic enough to defend shooting guards, I like the mismatch on the other end if he can take players into the post. I think it also would give him some renewed energy from a lethargic exhibition season.
I'd go with Tyrus Thomas at small forward.
He's not Amare Stoudemire. He's probably more a small forward, anyway, as he likes to drift outside and shoot. Yes, he'd have trouble with threes, generally the most athletic and talented players in the NBA, but again his size and quickness could be an issue. I haven't seen him much involved in defense, anyway, no matter where he plays.
Then I'd go with Gooden and Joakim Noah.
It's a lineup that is big and long and could be active. Playing with Rose, you want players who'll run, which I believe Deng would and Thomas could. We know Noah will.
It's not great on perimeter shooting, which is where you might insert Gordon or Andres Nocioni at times as you work through who fits best with Rose and how.
I like Noah in there because with his activity it should keep the middle open for Rose to operate. It's what Jordan loved and thrived off and, for a while, why he reacted so negatively to the acquisition of Bill Cartwright. Scoring, driving guards like the middle open, and we'll see how Kobe Bryant does now with Andrew Bynum. It was the final piece when the Bulls acquired Cartwright, though this Bulls team is a long way from there, obviously.
While examining what I have, I'd also try to add something, and that would be that elusive second star, which we know is difficult to acquire.
One guy I'd keep an eye on is Carmelo Anthony. When his name came up last summer in trade rumors with the Denver Nuggets pulling back on spending after several disappointing seasons and quick playoff exits, I said that was the one guy I wouldn't trade. So they gave away Marcus Camby just to save money and figure to dump Allen Iverson if they can.
They could be very bad, and that's when you have a chance to get a star.
Anthony may get tired of seeing his team going nowhere while contemporaries guys like Bryant, LeBron James and Paul compete for championships while Dwyane Wade already has one.
You never know what will happen if a star becomes disgruntled. We remember Kobe last year, of course.
Anthony is signed for three more seasons, but if he were to make it clear he wanted to be elsewhere—and the Nuggets have been in the market for cutbacks—perhaps they'd entertain an intriguing package. I'd even throw in this season's No. 1 pick.
Because if you could pair a young star, inside scorer like Anthony with a potential star guard like Rose, you are then approaching the chance to win championships. And there's not much like winning in a major market like Chicago.
This is not to say there's even been discussion or any thought about Anthony being moved. It apparently was discussed somewhere this summer, though that's the kind of move the Bulls need to be looking at. The hard working, blue collar, overachieving thing only takes you so far.
You need to start with a star. I think the Bulls finally have one. Two would enable them to start dreaming again.