The Return of Derrick Rose

By: Evan

For Chicago Bulls fans the 2012-2013 season was a roller coaster ride full of excitement and disappointment. We saw the emergence of Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson but also the various injuries suffered by Joakim Noah and Luol Deng. We ended the Heat’s win streak but lost the 4th seed. We beat the Nets in a great seven game series but lost to the Heat in a depressing fashion. All of these things were entirely overshadowed by Derrick Rose’s rehab throughout the season. People speculated on his return some saying after the All-Star break and some saying the playoffs and some ignorant fans said maybe never? The fans were tantalized during Derrick’s pre-game warmups trying to gauge the former MVP’s comfort level on the court. We saw him flash to rim like his old self, only to hear “When I’m ready”. Many fans were upset with the sporadic dialogue between Derrick and the media, feeling as if Derrick betrayed was just biding his time and earning his money. They were upset with the Adidas commercials “The Return”, falling into the inevitable belief that Derrick would magically recover and things would be normal again. And they were dead wrong. These fans drove me crazy with their constant complaining and whining, making Derrick out to be a villain when really Derrick was doing what was best for his team and himself. Rose is the face of the franchise, a hometown kid who has lived in Chicago for every year of his life except for his college days in Memphis. He grew up in the Jordan era, watching his idol don the same white and red jersey he would wear years later. He knew the pressure that was put on him as the #1 pick in the 2008 draft as a mere 19 year old. These wavering fans must forget his first year where he led the Bulls to a seven game series against the defending champion Celtics, not to mention tying the record for most points scored by a rookie in his playoff debut with 36. They must forget his second year where he made the All-Star team, the first Bull since MJ in 1998.

Courtesy of Bleacherreport.com

They must have also forgotten his pre-season promise to win the MVP in 2010-2011, which he accomplished with career best in points, assists, steals, 3pt percentage and free throw percentage. At 22 he was the youngest player ever to win MVP. All the greats before him, Russell, Wilt, Kareem, Magic, Larry and Chicago’s own Michael Jordan never achieved what Derrick did. He has improved every single year in his short career, yet few people seem to notice. Derrick knew that coming back before he was ready would disappoint the fans and his teammates, but most importantly he knew he would disappoint himself. His expectations exceed any random fan’s and he believes he can carry his team to a title, just like I do. I know that Derrick is giving every ounce of his energy and effort to help the Bulls achieve their goals and become great. And that is why the Bulls will win the championship next year.

All year long the Bulls struggled mightily to score the ball, using offensive rebounds to generate most of their offense. With Derrick and his improved jump shot the Bulls now have a shot creator, who can allow players like Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler play their true roles as spot up or one dribble shooters. Now Carlos Boozer can thrive off pick and rolls and stretch the defensive, creating room for Derrick to penetrate and kick or penetrate and finish at the rim. Derrick’s return also helps out Kirk Hinrich who will no longer have to play starters minutes and can now lead the bench players. But the most important part of Derrick’s return is his presence. The Bulls now have their captain back, their leader, their engine who makes them go. Derrick has an uncanny ability to inspire his teammates and motivate them to play the best they possibly can. The Bulls defense already goes unquestioned but now with Derrick, opposing guards have to worry about Derrick lighting quick speed and how they can get around him. With all the current pieces the Bulls are poised for a championship run. Now all Bulls fans have to do is wait and watch, again.

First Picture and Stats from ESPN

NY Knicks Offseason Needs

By: Prad

JR Smith
JR Smith

1) Re-sign J.R. Smith

This is by far the single most important thing Glen Grunwald needs to do this offseason. Although J.R. Smith was terribly inefficient in the post season, his value in the regular season can’t be overstated. He averaged the second most points on the team, 18.1 to along with 5.3 boards a game. His lackluster performance in the postseason this year surely will make him fewer millions than he could’ve had he continued his outstanding play into the playoffs. Some critics say that Smith will not experience the same success that he experienced this year anywhere including New York. But, I believe that he worked well in the Knicks system under Mike Woodson where he led the second unit and was allowed to take a high volume of shots. He thrives in this system where he has the ability to work for his own shot and ends many possessions with his shots. This can continue if he decides to re-sign with the Knicks. The Knicks will offer him approximately $5.5 million because they own his Early Bird Rights. The Knicks would love to re-sign Smith, as they don’t have another secondary scoring option after Carmelo Anthony.

2) Sign a couple big men

I believe attaining another big man is essential. The Knicks could’ve probably done better in the draft but I don’t blame them with the selection they made. They drafted Tim Hardaway Jr. who is a talented and fantastic shooter that can create of the dribble. If the Knicks don’t manage to sign J.R., I think that Hardaway would be a great replacement once he develops his skills a bit more in a few years. But, the fact is that Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire are the only true big men the Knicks currently have on the roster. Kenyon Martin played solid bench minutes for the Knicks in the playoffs, but he’s not a long term option. Stoudemire gets injured often, so Chandler is the defensive anchor and the only player on the team who plays like a big man. The Knicks are in great need of a couple big men to play reserve minutes as backups to Melo in the power forward position and Chandler at center. A player that is physical inside and who has the ability to rebound well would be ideal but it will be hard with the Knicks inflexibility in cap space.

Kenyon Martin
Kenyon Martin

3) Re-sign Kmart and Pablo Prigioni

Although Prigioni was a rookie last year in the NBA, he is a veteran in terms of experience. I mean he’s 35. He can help teach young guards how to fit well into the Knicks system under Coach Woodson. He adjusted fairly well into the system his first year. In fact, when he was inserted into the starting lineup, the Knicks won 13 consecutive games. He is noted for his persistence in attempting to steal the ball at all times when on the court. Kenyon Martin provided valuable minutes off the bench for the Knicks late in the regular season and during the playoffs. He had the most efficient season of his career, shooting 60.2%. Though he’s 35, he can still provide around 25 MPG.

Pablo Prigioni
Pablo Prigioni

All Stats and Pictures from ESPN

How the Canadians are taking over basketball

By: Jon

After Canadian Anthony Bennett was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers, it made me realize how many good Canadian players there are in the league. Currently, there is only one Canadian Hall of Famer, Bob Houbregs, but he only averaged ten points per game. When people think of Canadian basketball, the first name that comes to their head is Steve Nash. Nash is a definite Hall of Famer and the only great Canadian basketball player. However, he will not be the only great player for long. Besides for first overall pick, Anthony Bennett, there are a lot of good Canadian basketball players, like Tristin Thompson, Kelly Olynyk, Andrew Nicholson, Robert Sacre, Kris Joseph, Cory Joseph, Samuel Dalembert, and Joel Anthony. Many people have only heard of Samuel Dalembert and Joel Anthony because they have been in the league for a few years. However, many of these players will be household names in the future, especially Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson. During Thompson’s second season, he was a walking double-double averaging 11.9 points and 9.4 rebounds. His numbers improved throughout the season because of Varejeo’s injury and extra playing time. Although Bennett will not be a superstar, he could be a solid All-Star player because of his skill and drive. However, we probably have not seen the best Canadian player so far.

Steve Nash
Steve Nash

The projected first pick in the 2014 NBA draft is Kansas’s Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins is the most hyped prospect since Kevin Durant and Lebron James. Let me repeat that… KEVIN DURANT and LEBRON JAMES, the two best players in the league. Wiggins is going to be a great player, like Durant and James, for many reasons. Wiggin’s best attribute is his athleticism. Very few people in the NBA have the same athleticism as Wiggins. Wiggins is a special talent, like Lebron, because of his speed, size, athleticism, and dribbling ability. Wiggins will be a great defensive ball player because of his agility, length, rebounding, and shot blocking ability. Andrew has a solid mid range game that will make opponents ¬†hopeless when they are trying to defend him. Although he will never be Ray Allen, he will be a solid and capable shooter. Whoever drafts Andrew Wiggins will be getting a tough and talented player, who will lead them to the playoffs and eventually the title.

Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins

Stats and pics from ESPN.com