DALLAS Some misguided souls actually believed Chicago would challenge the top teams in the Eastern Conference this past season.
Now that we've acknowledged one of the lowest moments in my career of NBA prognostication, let's move on.
What is it people say, if you can't be good, be lucky? The Bulls took that to heart in 2007-08. What appeared to be an up-and-coming team descended into a dysfunctional morass. Chicago got its coach fired, underachieved to a non-descript level yet vaulted past worse lottery teams to win the first pick of Thursday's draft.
It will be tough for the Bulls to blow that.
Derrick Rose is the most talented point guard in the draft. Michael Beasley is a power forward with explosive offensive skills. Either athlete is worthy of the No. 1 pick.
The Bulls are on the clock.
Why Derrick Rose
Rose doesn't believe he's the best player in this draft. He will tell you that Beasley is "way better than me."
It's not an act. Rose doesn't believe he's arrived. He searches for ways to make those around him better. He embraces the team concept and his role as a leader.
Memphis coach John Calipari has said his point guard could have averaged 30 points a game last season and the team would have been pretty good, but Rose understood they had a chance to win every game with him averaging 14 points.
"I'm an unselfish guard that's willing to do anything to win," Rose told reporters in Chicago last week. "I mean anything."
Rose commands respect. He leads by example. That shone through at Simeon Career Academy when Rose led his high school team to back-to-back state titles.
Simeon is located on the South Side of Chicago.
"I thought LeBron James was the luckiest guy in the world playing for his home state," Rose said. "Now I get that chance.
"I hope the Bulls pick me."
Why Michael Beasley
No one questions Beasley's talent.
But he did attend seven schools in five years as a teenager. He was asked not to return to Oak Hill Academy after he and a friend bet to see which one could sign their name in black marker on the most objects at the school.
In the psychological test the Bulls administered to Beasley in his visit last week, the young forward was asked if he considered himself crazy.
"I left that one unanswered," Beasley said.
Don't get the wrong idea. Beasley's transgressions seem more silly than destructive. As he said, "I just turned 19 in January. How mature do you want me to be?"
Beasley is driven to be the best. He said second best is no fun. He turns everything into a competition.
"I understand there are a lot of greats out there who have come through this league who I have to prove myself to," Beasley said. "This is just another challenge.
"I would like to go No. 1. But if that doesn't happen, I wouldn't be offended."
David Moore's scouting report of the players likely to be taken in the first round of Thursday's NBA draft.
Derrick Rose, Memphis, 6-1/190, (projected top 2)
Stands out with his athletic ability. He has good quickness and length for a point guard. He can change gears and has phenomenal body control. He has good vision in the open court and has worked to improve his mid-range jumper. He's a leader with an appetite for the game. Rose wants to get better and is willing to put in the work.
Jerryd Bayless, Arizona, 6- 1/200 (3-8)
An explosive player who reminds some of Washington's Gilbert Arenas. He doesn't have the point guard skills of Arenas, but he's a combo guard who doesn't have the size to make a living at shooting guard. He's an outstanding perimeter shooter who does a good job of getting to the free throw line. Can be selfish with the ball.
Russell Westbrook, UCLA, 6-3/187 (4-10)
He knows how to play the game and looks to make things happen. He's excellent in transition. He needs to handle the ball better and his shot must improve, but he can be really good. If you want a name from the past for comparison, think Fat Lever. He doesn't rebound as well as Lever, though.
Next in line
D.J. Augustin, Texas 5-10 180 10-15
He can run a team but could slide due to size.
Mario Chalmers, Kansas 6-1 190 18-25
Excellent shooter and perimeter defender.
Eric Gordon, Indiana, 6-2/215 (3-8)
An outstanding shooter with range. He can pull up off the dribble and bury the mid-range jumper. Gordon can get by the defender with a strong first step. He can finish in traffic and does a good job of getting to the free throw line. Makes the pass when it's there. His performance suffered during the Kelvin Sampson imbroglio.
O.J. Mayo, USC, 6-3/200 ( 3-8)
He may never live up to the hype, but he's a very, very good player. Mayo can play either guard position and get his shot whenever he wants. He's an excellent shooter but has the size and strength to take it inside. His shot selection is poor, and he turns the ball over too often. He's not a bad defender. Mayo is the total package.
Next in line
Brandon Rush, Kansas 6-6 210 12-18
Athletic ability and instincts for the game are a big plus.
Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis 6-7 200 15-25
Unorthodox style but is very efficient.
Courtney Lee, W. Kentucky 6-5 200 Late first
Complete wing player but can be passive.
Danilo Gallinari, Italy, 6-8/210 (5-10)
He can really shoot. He can also put the ball on the floor and is a good passer. The Toni Kukoc comparison is one that gets thrown out a lot. If that's going back too far, picture Toronto's Andrea Bargnani on a good day. There are concerns about his quickness, and he's only an average rebounder.
Joe Alexander, West Virginia, 6-7/230 (10-15)
His stock has been on the rise because of his play late in the season and how well he tested in Orlando. He does have good size and athleticism. He's aggressive. He has a decent mid-range jumper and isn't afraid to work in the post. But he lacks polish and isn't much of a ball handler.
Next in line
Donte Green, Syracuse 6-8 226 18-22
A big-time talent with a terrific perimeter shot.
Nicolas Batum, France 6-8 190 20-25
He's really quick and works hard on the defensive end.
Michael Beasley, Kansas State, 6-7/235 (top 2)
He's good around the hoop and has a nice touch when he steps away from the basket. He can create his own shot and finish with either hand. Beasley is a terrific offensive rebounder. He settles for bad shots and isn't much of a defender. Beasley can be immature. Comparisons to Derrick Coleman work on athletic and emotional levels.
Kevin Love, UCLA, 6-7/255 ( 3-8)
He loves to play and doesn't back down from anyone. Few make the outlet pass as well as he does, and he has a nice, 15-foot bank shot. Love has a high basketball IQ but isn't afraid to mix it up and do the dirty work. He is more skilled than Chicago's Joakim Noah and can go inside against certain people. He will struggle defensively on the perimeter.
Anthony Randolph, LSU, 6-9/205 (10-15)
An explosive athlete with a big upside. Randolph can create facing the basket, runs the court well and can really jump. He has a decent mid-range jumper. What he doesn't have is a feel for the game. He also lacks strength in the post. Comparisons to Toronto's Chris Bosh are premature. Right now, he's closer to New Jersey's Stromile Swift.
Darrell Arthur, Kansas, 6-7/225 (15-20)
He's not flashy, but he's a smooth player with a scoring mentality. He has a nice touch and a beautiful turnaround jumper. He can knock down the 17-foot jumper and finish around the basket. There is a real pro feel to his game. But he needs to improve as a rebounder and passer and does seem to coast at times.
J.J. Hickson, N.C. State, 6-9/242 (17-25)
A tough, aggressive player who is very good with his back to the basket. He's a decent shooter and a solid rebounder. He stays within his range and doesn't try to be something he's not. He lacks versatility and is a poor defender.
Next in line
JaVale McGee, Nevada 6-11 237 20-25
He's a project but he's big and has good strength.
Serge Ibaka, Spain 6-10 220 Late first
An active player with a nice perimeter touch.
Jason Thompson, Rider 6-11 250 Late first
A tireless worker with the bulk to play some center.
Brook Lopez, Stanford, 6-1 1/260 (3-8)
He takes up a lot of space in the low post and commands a double-team. His footwork is good, and he can step outside and shoot the jumper. He's a good rebounder, blocks the shots he should and gets to the free throw line. He plays hard but is able to avoid foul trouble.
DeAndre Jordan, Texas A&M, 6-9/260 (12-18)
He's big and strong and has one really nice move in the low post. He's a good rebounder and could be a good defender if he worked at it. He lacks polish, shies away from contract and is not active. He could pay big dividends in two or three years, or he could be mentioned in the same breath as Kwame Brown.
Mareese Speights, Florida, 6-10/245 (15-20)
He's long and athletic. Speights has good offensive instincts and likes to play with his back to the basket. He has a soft touch on his jumper and great hands. He's a strong rebounder because he's so quick to the ball but needs work on the defensive end. His conditioning is a question.
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