May 22, 2008

Bulls passing on Beas would be mistake

The Chicago Bulls may have beaten the biggest odds in winning the NBA's Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, but Kansas State's Michael Beasley might have hit his own jackpot in the process. It appears Beasley is exactly what the Bulls need as a franchise, and based on basketball, he obviously should be the top selection in the league's draft, but that doesn't mean the Bulls will call his name.

Despite Beasley's obvious fit with the Bulls as a 6-foot-9 power forward with a game lacking any obvious flaws, Chicago may turn to hometown high school hero Derrick Rose with the top choice. The reasons Chicago, and its guard-heavy roster, would select the University of Memphis one-and-done point guard star over Beasley are nearly as hard to explain as to why Tyler Hansbrough was voted college basketball's best player when he obviously was not.

If Rose is going to be a better NBA player than Beasley, then pick him. If Rose is going to fit the Bulls' needs better than Beasley, then pick him. If Rose is going to sell dramatically more tickets, move the franchise back into NBA prominence more quickly or be a much better citizen than Beasley, then pick him.

The Bulls, though, cannot give an affirmative answer to any of those and cannot escape this simple truth: Michael Beasley will be a dramatically better pro player than Rose. Picking Beasley will be akin to dropping a 19-year-old Kevin Garnett on the Bulls' roster.

Hey, Bulls fans, it's about basketball, and not only does Beasley fit a gaping hole in the lineup, but he also has a strong chance of becoming a perennial all-star, franchise-type cornerstone the team has lacked since that other Michael left town.

There is little doubt that barring injury, Beasley will produce in the professional ranks for years to come. Most experts admit that he's probably going to be a 20-point, 10-rebound type player from the get-go. And he will get better. Much better.

"Mike is a guy whose game is evolving. He's like no other," said K-State coach Frank Martin, who not only has an obvious bias toward Beasley but also a great understanding of the player and person under discussion. "He's six-foot-nine-and-a-half, and he's got the most amazing hands I have ever seen. He has a great understanding how to play. He's an absolute nightmare because at 240 pounds, he's strong enough to defend on the interior, but he's cat-like quick and can defend on the perimeter. He's got the game to shoot on the perimeter, but he can just punish you with his strength on the interior offensively.

"As a freshman, he stepped into college basketball and set standards that have never been seen before. And he's nowhere near the player that he will be."

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