The Bulls win the lottery

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By MATT MEDVED

Hey Chicago. Long time, no see.

I’ve been MIA for awhile, trying to launch my DJ side career (judge for yourself at my inevitable shameless plug: www.myspace.com/djsicarii). But I’m back, and what a time it is to be back here. The Cubs have the best record in baseball, the Bulls have the number-one draft pick and Cedric Benson is now being as useless off the field as he was on it.

Chicago Wins the Lottery:
I don’t think anyone saw this one coming. With a longshot 1.7% chance of landing the top pick, the Bulls jumped up from a projected 9th selection spot to snag the NBA lottery losers’ most coveted prize. Maybe this nightmare of a season will pay off yet.

Like last year’s Oden-Durant dilemma, the Bulls now have the enviable task of choosing between two star freshman prospects: Kansas State’s Michael Beasley and Memphis’ Derrick Rose. Beasley, a talented power forward, would provide the low post scoring that Chicago has desperately needed as well as size and a consistent double-double presence. Rose has drawn comparisons to fellow point guards Deron Williams and Chris Paul and has leadership intangibles that suggest he could be the better player as he develops further.

Despite being far less flashy than Heat rep Dwayne Wade, Chicago’s VP of business operations Steve Schanwald had the Midas touch. It’s already clear which player the Miami Heat, who landed the second pick despite only winning 15 games last season, desire. The front office has already sent out signals that should the Bills select Rose, they would be open to trading the pick in lieu of snagging Beasley.

It’s a debate that will rage in Chi-Town until June 26th, but I’m already feeling conflicted. My first instinct was to grab Beasley and put Chicago’s low post phantoms to rest. But watching the playoffs, it’s clear how key the position of point guard has become to raising the play of teammates on the court. If you think for a minute that the Hornets and the Jazz would have made it nearly as far as they did without Paul and Williams, you’re kidding yourself. Steve Nash is the lynchpin of the Suns’ high octane offense and the Spurs have relied on Tony Parker plenty of times. Talented point guards do not grow on trees, and now that the Bulls have the chance to select one that new Knicks coach (and eternal betrayer of the Bulls) Mike D’Antoni described as “Jason Kidd with a jump shot,” it’s hard to see them passing Rose up. (Must be hard for D’Antoni to believe he passed up the Bulls job; the Knicks landed the 6th pick). This would leave Hinrich the odd man out. Would Paxson pull a trade trigger?

Then again, the teams that have made it to the conference finals also have big men complementing their point guards. Parker has his Tim Duncan, Rajon Rondo/Sam Cassell have their Kevin Garnett. One concern about Beasley is that his relatively smaller size could keep him from reaching their levels of play, but can the Bulls afford to neglect addressing the position?

Whatever the choice, the undeserving Bulls have landed an equally unexpected bounty that will help put the miserable 2007-2008 season behind them. Now they just need a coach…

Benson Tries to Leave Blunders Behind: When Bears running back Cedric Benson arrived for the team’s first organized team activities, he had to know he would field more questions about his drunken joyride on Lake Travis than the rest of his offseason workouts.

A slimmed down Benson at least said the right things at practice. He said he intended to meet with Bears GM Jerry Angelo and did not take his starting job for granted.

“I would hope I’d have to do something to keep [my job],” Benson said. “Nobody wants to be given anything.”

There’s little chance he will be. The boating incident, during which Benson was pepper-sprayed for allegedly resisting arrest, came only a week after the Bears drafted Tulane’s Matt Forte in the second round. The move should come as a wake-up call for the underachieving former Texas star, who has failed to live up to expectations after the Bears drafted him 4th overall in 2005.

Should be an interesting training camp at running back for the Bears. Lord knows they need some drama alongside the yawnfest that the Grossman-Orton quarterback derby will no doubt prove to be. Just as it was last year. And the year before that.

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~ by Matt Medved on June 4, 2008.

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