Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The Great Debate

Being home in the Chicago suburbs for once means I get to check out the Tribune in actual hard-copy form. Today's sports section has several articles talking about the differences between the NBA and NCAA. You probably need a subscription to view some of these (especially after today), but its free...give them your damn e-mail address and feel the spam fury for a while. It's worth it.

Point-Counterpoint: Dan McGrath - "College Basketball is Just More Fun"

                               My Man Sam(TM) - "The College Game is Awful"

I swear, those titles remind me of The Onion's editorials. But that's not all the Trib had to offer today, since the debate isn't simply what game is better. What nearly everyone aggress on is that the mass exodus of young talent to the league too early hurts both the college and NBA games. Now I, as you may know, don't care if the college game crashes and burns, but do realize that the league needs SOME sort of minor league system to help protect itself from drafting these kids who aren't ready to play yet.

                Rick Morrissey - "Undercooked Talent Poisons Basketball"

                My Man Sam(TM) - "Prep Stars Lack True NBA Skills"

The Sam Smith article details the kids who will be in Chicago tonight for the EA sports roundball classic. A lot of prep stars will be there, including projected top 10 picks Dwight Howard and Shaun Livingston. But Sam gives the predicable warning for NBA GMs:

You can't run an NBA team with these young players. Ask the Bulls. Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry ruined the franchise. Well, actually, Jerry Krause did that by drafting them. It's not their fault, and there is hope for Curry. But no one ever will put two high school kids together again like the Bulls did. They're finishing their third seasons and the Bulls are no better than in their first. If a general manager is going to invest in one of this year's crop, he better have patience and a long contract.

Now, I will not say that Curry/Chandler RUINED the franchise. But I do think he has a point to be made that what Jerry Krause did in the 2001 draft was unprecedented, and a daring experiment. And It's probably safe to say that no other team will try it again for a while.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Spoiler Role

Its all the Bulls' can play for as far as the games at hand are concerned. Yes there is the underlying themes of 'forming an attitude' and 'building and getting a head start for next season'. As far as the games that actually need to be played (although we don't have to watch), its nice to beat teams with playoff aspirations like the Raptors (Friday) and Knicks (Saturday). I got to see the Knicks game at the United Center, and the Bulls improved to 2-2 while I'm actually in attendance. Considering their overall record, that isn't bad.

 The common element over the past few games has been the sight of a dominant Eddy Curry, who abused the undersized Raps (Bosh/Marshall) and Knicks (Thomas/Mohammed/Baker). Sitting behind the basket the Knicks were defending on Saturday, it was very nice to see Eddy Curry be aggressive and actually fighting for position against the smaller (and drinkier) Vin Baker. This supposed intense conditioning summer that Skiles is going to implement should help Eddy even more as far as having the energy to dominate at the end of games.

I don't have much else to say today, but I wanted to comment on Scott at Raptorblog's post after the Bulls game. Needless to say, watching your team lose to the worst team in basketball isn't very fun when you're counting on them making a push for the playoffs. But check out what an outsider like Scott has to say about the baby Bulls:

 Before the season, I picked the Bulls to finish sixth in the East and I don't feel embarrassed by that prediction because it's obvious that they have more talent than at least half of the Eastern teams, including the Raptors. All the talk of breaking up the "C-Unit" of Curry, Chandler and Crawford is nonsense. Crawford is 24, Curry and Chandler are both 22 and Hinrich is 23. The Bulls' struggles over the last three seasons are a lesson in the importance of patience with a young team. If Chicago management keeps this team together and provides them with the right coach to lead the way, they will be a force to be reckoned with very soon.

I'm not saying he's right, but its important to consider the option that all we need is (more) patience. The extreme disappointment of this season has led to yet another rash of premature 'bust' labelings of our young lottery picks. But before you get too desperate for change, repeat: "Crawford is 24, Curry and Chandler are both 22 and Hinrich is 23". There really is only way to go, and that is up.  

I know its trendy now to assume that the Bulls need to find any way possible to get a star, and in fact I'll be putting together some scenarios soon that could make it happen. I however do not endorse trading Curry or Chandler unless you get an absolute star. Grouping Crawford in that list of untradeables is no longer true in my opinion, as I discussed approaching the trade deadline. And I do think that they now have the right coach. So before everyone goes nutso with trade scenarios for Kobe or T-Mac or whatever, it is also possible that all the team needs is a summer at camp Skiles. A place where you run wind sprints instead of obstacle courses, and all the counselors have combovers.

bracket update: I'm sure everyone else is reeling after last weekend, but as you can tell from looking at the bracket I posted last week, I've already lost 3/4 final 4 teams. Somehow though, I'm leading in the basketball bloggers pool. Which is for naught except blogging pride. But I am willing to throw out all of the accolades that come with beating my colleagues for an Illini win against Duke on Friday.