Thursday, January 08, 2004

If Ronald Dupree is Your Leading Scorer, You are a Bad Team I'm sorry, that just has to be a rule...or something. To be honest though, new Bulls' aquisition Ronald "don't call me Jermaine" Dupree led the team in scoring last night, with 18pts, along with 9rebs and 3ast. He was something the Bulls were lacking, someone who was slashing to the basket to collapse the defense. Plus he hustled around the court, made some jump shots.....very impressive stuff. But I'm ever the cynic with these types of guys, so I'll just say that the Miami Heat are only slightly above the NBDL. So what does that make the Bulls then, giving up 102 points??? The Heat haven't scored 102 points since Ronny Seikaly was dominating the paint. A team like that shooting 54% is probably a combination of luck and just terrible defense. One element of the Heat's offense that wasn't any form of luck was Lamar Odom, who was simply unstoppable last night. Every time the Bulls were getting close, Odom would answer. It was the kind of game that he has every so often that makes NBA types gush over his yet unfufilled talent.

I was expecting Eddy Curry to have a big game against arguably the smallest team in the league, comprised of the likes of Brian Grant and Loren Woods. And while he had a good night, getting 14 points in 20 minutes, he just never seemed to be a factor. Just like most 4th quarters, I wanted him to fight for position and demand the ball every time down the court. Instead he kind of loafed around until someone forced the ball to him. Especially against smaller defenders, Eddy should realize he is the highest-percentage scoring option on the team, and act that way. But I can't complain too much about Eddy because at least he put up numbers.

Now Jamal Crawford is a different story. He had yet another poor outing last night, with only 7 points. And I know this has to sound like a broken record on this site, but he went to the line 0 times. After having those 2 monster games a couple of weeks ago, Jamal is simply becoming a jump shooter...a bad jump shooter at that. And with that declining play lately it can only mean one thing, trade talk by Chad Ford: (emphasis added)

The strong play of rookie point guard Kirk Hinrich has put Jamal Crawford's future with the Bulls in doubt. Scott Skiles doesn't like Crawford's shot selection, nor his porous defense. The fact that he'll be demanding a huge contract next summer when he hits restricted free agency doesn't help his cause.

Crawford's big plus is his ability to play the point, but Skiles seems determined to keep Hinrich as the one running the whole show. Word is that Bulls GM John Paxson wants a more prototypical two guard and someone to take Eddie Robinson off his hands in return for Crawford.

There will be plenty of teams interested in Crawford, but the team that seems to have the best fit would appears to be Miami. If the Bulls are willing to swallow Eddie Jones' contract, a swap of Crawford, Robinson and Marcus Fizer for Jones and Caron Butler works under the cap. A Crawford-Dwyane Wade backcourt would be awesome for Miami, allow Lamar Odom to move back to his natural position at the three and even clears a little cap for next summer. The key to the deal would be Butler's health. He's struggled mightily to come back from knee surgery this summer, lowering his value considerably.

I kept that last paragraph in for your benefit, but won't regard that Miami deal as more than complete Chad Ford speculation. But Ford certainly has glowing words for Crawford...couple that with this quote:
Just one day earlier, Crawford received a flattering compliment from New York Knicks general manager Isiah Thomas. In explaining why he traded five players and two first-round draft picks to the Phoenix Suns primarily for star point guard Stephon Marbury, Thomas said, "If you expect to make the playoffs and compete for a championship, you've got to have an outstanding point guard like Jason Kidd, Jamal Crawford, Baron Davis, Steve Nash or Stephon Marbury.'' "I feel very honored to be mentioned among the league's premier guards,'' Crawford said. "Especially when the guy saying it is one of the greatest guards to ever play the game.''
Don't these quotes completely contradict what every Bulls fan has been seeing on the court lately? Jamal has had very good games, and even in his bad games he gives you moments that make you think he's the real deal. But one of the top guards in the league? Davis, Nash, Kidd, Marbury....Crawford?????. He definately has the talent, but he hasn't proven it at all. Not even close. Paxson has been hesitant to give Crawford an extension thus far because he wanted proof that Crawford can be a consistent scorer. And I'm confident that if Jamal doesn't get his act together by the end of the year and still demands "a huge contract this summer", Pax will be smart enough to show him the door.