Moments before the start of the 2008 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls had still not given any guidance as to the direction they were going with the #1 pick. Most experts agreed that Memphis G Derrick Rose would be the Bulls choice, but the Bulls did a great job of keeping Kansas State F Michael Beasley in the picture and when NBA Commissioner David Stern walked to the podium to announce the pick, I was uncertain who the Bulls wrote on the card in the commish’s hand.
In the end, Derrick Rose was the right pick for the Bulls for the following reasons:
1. The NBA is evolving into a more perimeter controlled game. Ballhandlers and penetrators are at a premium. Derrick Rose was the best of the perimeter players in this year’s draft. Rose can score, pass, rebound if needed, and play defense. He is unselfish almost to a fault. Rose can penetrate, get to the basket, and finish once he gets there. He still needs to work on his outside shot, particularly his 3-point shooting, and even Rose himself has acknowledged that, but his inside/outside game now is quite potent and will only get exponentially better with time.
2. Derrick Rose is the most competitive player in this year’s draft. His will to win is something not seen in Chicago Bulls basketball since Michael Jordan. In a recent Chicago Tribune article, Rose was asked to describe himself. His response: “An unselfish guard who’s willing to do anything to win. I mean, anything.” Very focused, very precise. His will to win is enormous. This is a kid that cried after losing AAU games. Willing to do anything to win and hates losing? These are qualities that are sorely lacking for anyone currently on the Bulls roster.
3. Derrick Rose’s work ethic and leadership is second to none. Rose has been heralded as the hardest worker in this year’s draft. Again, in a recent Chicago Tribune article on Rose, his work ethic has been described as follows:
“Last summer, shortly after Rose arrived at Memphis, Calipari received a report that Rose’s knee was hurting him. Why would his knee be bothering him already, Calipari wondered.
The answer: Rose was toiling in the gym for six hours at a time. It might have been the first time in recorded history that a coach asked an elite player to stop working so hard.”
Rose is willing to dedicate whatever time is necessary to be the best. All great leaders start by leading by example. Rose is soft spoken, but his actions will speak louder than words. Over time, the words will be there, but Rose may already be the hardest worker on the Bulls roster and he has yet to attend a practice, much less play a game.
4. The home town hero scenario was too good to be true – on the day of the NBA Draft Lottery, the Chicago Bulls had a 1.7% chance of winning the #1 pick. Fate ran it’s course and the Bulls somehow defied odds and were put in position to draft the most dynamic player in this year’s draft. That player so happened to be from Chicago, so a hometown hero in the making.
Many critics point to C Eddy Curry and his inability to succeed with the pressure of playing in your hometown as a reason why the Bulls should have bypassed Derrick Rose. That logic makes absolutely no sense to me. It has nothing to do with playing in your hometown. It has everything to do with heart and character, and Derrick Rose has more heart and character than Eddy Curry. That alone will make the difference. The question of Derrick feeling pressure playing at home was handled deftly on the night of the draft:
His mom Brenda downplayed the notion that playing in Chicago will put more pressure on her son, telling ESPN: ‘‘He’s used to playing in Chicago.’’
The Rose family has handled Derrick professionally with great foresight of the potential of playing in Chicago for the Bulls. They have taught Derrick to handle pressure. This is a support system that Eddy Curry lacked.
5. Derrick Rose’s heart is in Chicago – he will also be the heart of professional basketball in Chicago for years to come. One day, Mr. Rose will be known only as Derrick, like the other great Bull, Michael. The heart of a championship team has walked in the door of the House That Michael Built. If Derrick Rose continues to work his craft, to constantly and consistently work on improving his game, the sky’s the limit. He will one day wear a NBA championship ring, maybe multiple rings…..and I am not one to doubt that this will not happen.
If you still doubt that Derrick Rose is the right pick for Chicago, the Bulls will be playing in the NBA Summer League in Orlando, FL from July 7-11. You can watch a live video webcast of each game on http://www.orlandomagic.com.