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May 26, 2008

Monday Tip: Best fit for the Bulls?

Really, how many "win-win situations" are there? Normally when someone says "win-win," they mean their side is really going to win but they aren't going to take advantage of you quite as badly as they might normally.

But whether you came in first in the 2008 NBA Draft Lottery or second, it really does appear to be a win-win. It's the difference in having your pick between Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose and simply getting the guy who "falls" to the second spot.

No matter how you slice it, you should be getting a future All-Star. The only factor separating them is whether you prefer your major help in the frontcourt or in the backcourt.

We asked basketball editor Bob McClellan and staff writer Andrew Skwara whom the Chicago Bulls should take with the No. 1 overall pick in the June 26 draft. Here's what they said:

SKWARA: Beasley

Unless you are just a piece or two away from contending for an NBA title (and the Bulls clearly are not), you should always draft the best player available.

In this case, that player is Beasley. While Rose played for a better team, Beasley dominated like few players we have seen in the college ranks. He ranked third in the nation in scoring and first in rebounding.

Last year, Kevin Durant was the best player available. He was the runaway winner for all the 2006-07 national player of the year awards. But Portland chose 7-foot center Greg Oden with the first pick.

Oden injured his knee and missed the season. Oden, 20, had the third major surgery of his life. He could recover and prove to be a dominating big man for years to come. But I can't help but wonder if the Blazers would change that pick if given the chance. Durant averaged 20.3 points and won NBA Rookie of the Year honors. In the final regular-season game (long after the infamous "rookie wall" was supposed to have hit), Durant had 42 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. It's obvious he's going to be a great player for a long time.

I believe we are going to be saying the same for Beasley at this time next year. Beasley actually was slightly more productive than Durant in college, averaging 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds to Durant's 25.8 and 11.1.

The 6-foot-9 Beasley also is bigger and stronger than Durant, and already has an NBA frame.

Some critics point out that Beasley put up great stats on a not-so great team. But I have no doubt about Beasley's ability to carry a team. In his lone college season, he helped a young Kansas State team finish third in the Big 12 its best finish ever and K-State made its first NCAA appearance since 1996.

McCLELLAN: Rose

I'm not arguing against Beasley. Really, how can you? I'm more arguing for Rose.

First, he's a Chicago native. How can the Bulls pass on a Windy City kid? How great is that story?

Second, as much as big men are important to the success of a team, I'll take a superior point guard nine times out of 10 (unless you're talking about a lock 7-footer such as Tim Duncan, who is the only player taken No. 1 overall in the past 15 years to win a ring). Look at the 2005 draft. Milwaukee took Andrew Bogut with the first pick and Atlanta took Marvin Williams with the second pick. That gave Utah its choice of point guards between Deron Williams and Chris Paul. The Jazz took Williams and the Hornets took Paul. Anyone want to take bets (Tim Donaghy excluded) on which of those teams will win a championship first?

Rose will be the best fit with the Bulls. They already have bigs such as Luol Deng, Drew Gooden, Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas, all of whom instantly gets better with Rose on hand. Kirk Hinrich's numbers at the point dropped off significantly last season, but he, too, would benefit from coming off the bench behind Rose.

Think how good Rose is now (ask Kansas about the stretch in which he took over in the national championship game), then ponder what another few years of strength, maturity and development of his outside jumper will mean. He already can get in the lane anytime he wants. When he starts sticking jumpers from 17-20 feet with consistency, he'll be almost unstoppable.

Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at bmcclellan@rivals.com.
Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at askwara@rivals.com.



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