Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I'm back, or am I, oh hell I don't know...

Oh, if only this were a rumor about Jordan coming out of retirement, as one could vaguely construe the title and picture to imply. Unfortunately, it's just me, back from another six month period of not caring about basketball. (Shows how intelligent I am, just when the NBA is getting better. At least that's what I hear.)

I have to be honest. The Knicks just about killed the damn sport for me. I'm aware that there have been a ton of great games on (and I've managed to catch a few of them) but I really came close to giving up on the sport entirely. Am I a pussy? Yes. However, to use the "reasonable man" standard of our justice system, I think my actions have been entirely understandable. And, because no one reads this blog, I suspect I'll earn a free pass.

A couple of brief notes:

-I called the Hornets;
-I did NOT call the Bulls;
-If the Celtics win the chip, I called that, and though that doesn't seem like much of a stretch now, at the beginning of the season it was at least a bit of an interesting prediction;
-I won my NCAA pool this year despite knowing very little about college basketball and picking the second-fewest number of winners in my pool;
-Last night, I realized it is possible that Derrick Rose could be drafted by the Knicks next year. This was perhaps my first NBA-related thought that is worthy of writing about in a long time.

Now let's just expound on that last point. Right now, the Knicks have the fourth-worst record in the NBA. The top 5 picks should be Rose, Michael Beasley, OJ Mayo, Eric Gordon, and some combination of Jerryd Bayless, Anthony Randolph, and Kevin Love. There's probably some foreign guys out there that suck and will get drafted to high (Semih Erden, I'm talking to you, you Turkey sandwich!), but I don't know shit about them and don't subscribe to ESPN Insider. ("Where you can pay for Chad Ford to tell you Anton Ponkrashov has a game like Kerry Kittles and has been acquitted of second-degree murder twice!")

Miami should be in line for the #1 pick, and I think they might take Rose if they get the chance. They don't really need another small forward since getting Shawn Marion, Eric Gordon is not going to be useful for obvious reasons, Pat Riley's not stupid enough to screw around with the Lopez twins, and I don't think Kevin Love has a shot at number one. The only choices that make sense are Rose, Mayo, or Bayless, and I think last night made it clear that Derrick Rose is an NBA scorer and a great passer.

However, I personally think he has an overly similar game to Dwayne Wade and that they don't really need another slasher with Wade and Marion. Rose is such a good passer I bet Pat Riley could look past that. The poor guy hasn't had a good point guard since Tim Hardaway died of AIDS. Still, it's not a natural fit by any stretch.

I think the player that would help the Heat the most is Kevin Love. As much as I'm down on him in college (and that's a lot, for my own senseless reasons), I think he'd fit on nicely on a team with good wing players like Shawn Marion and Dwayne Wade. If the Heat agree with me, I think they'd be able to trade down to at least 7th (where the Clippers need help) [hopefully Shawn Livingston gets better]) and still get Love. I don't think the Clippers would have interest in Rose because they already have Livingston and Brevin Knight and because Mayo would make more sense as a (sorta) hometown kid.

The next worst team in the league is Seattle. They would take Derrick Rose in a heartbeat. The Knicks would have to get a pick ahead of them or pray that their GM (who appears to be extremely competent) placed undue value on someone like Eric Gordon or Mayo. As much as it seems like Rose is clearly better than those guys now, things can and often do change drastically in workouts and other predraft evluations. As Bill Simmons recently pointed out, the Magic were a bad Penny Hardaway workout away from drafting Chris Webber, which would have created a frontcourt for the ages. Webber was in many ways the equivalent of Derrick Rose and he had a much loftier college pedigree than Hardaway, but NBA teams seem to care less and less about that.

The only other team worse than the Knicks is Minnesota. I think they would take Beasley (or someone else big) if they had the chance, because they already have Randy Foye and Rashad McCants, both of whom are having pretty solid seasons, especially the underrated McCants (14.8, 3, 2, and a steal in less than 30 minutes a game and only 24 starts out of 69 games). Throw Telfair in the mix (he's still only 22 or so) and I just don't see the sense of getting another point guard. Plus, the T-Wolves' need for size is extreme and NBA teams in their position tend to draft for size.

Memphis presents the final problem (they are only one game better than the Knicks and could easily steal the mantle of the NBA's fourth-worst team). Despite the chance the Grizzlies will get the pick, I think they'd tend towards someone with size (like a center) because they already have a bunch of young talent at point guard (Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry) and because they literally do not have a center (not even a big white guy!). Darko certainly ain't going to cut it. He started almost every game he played and averaged 7.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 2.6 fouls. So for every three points he scores, he picks up one foul. That's nice.

Based on the foregoing, I think there's a reasonable chance the Knicks could pick up Derrick Rose without having to get lucky in the draft lottery. Could they get unlucky? Of course. Could they get the #1 pick?

"Yes" - David Stern.

Either way, it's nice to have a little hope for a change.

I think the Knicks have a shot at Derrick Rose, and I think he has a shot at being a franchise-defining player at best and a solid point guard at worst. The Knicks have been in dire need of both for a long time.

As always e-mail me at dontgiveupthebasketballblog@gmail.com

PS: The Illinois Illini were this close to getting Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon to play for them this year. Imagine THAT.

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