Is Derrick Rose the Next Deron Williams?

deron williams

With the signing of three former members of the Utah Jazz, the Chicago Bulls earned the nickname “Utah Midwest” this summer. Bulls fans hope they don’t become “Utah Jazz East,” as in the Jazz of the Eastern Conference postseason because Utah’s recent playoff experience is not worth emulating.

You’ve heard the expression “NBA Hell?” Well, that’s exactly where Utah is- a place where the ceiling has been reached and every May just repeats itself like the movie “Groundhog Day.”

One aspect of the Jazz certainly worth emulating is the play of their point guard. In recent years, we’ve seen University of Illinois product Deron Williams evolve into the greatest ex-Illini in the professional ranks, and later the greatest overall point guard.

Can Derrick Rose make a similar leap? A couple of Williams’ former teammates believe so.

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Deron Williams, All-Star: About Frickin Time!

By Paul M. Banks

Yesterday was a glorious day that I have waited a long time for. It felt exactly like a special night about 14 years ago when a T.F. South high school cheerleader took…well never mind, let’s just focus on the now.

Deron Williams will return to his hometown as an NBA All-Star. The former Illini will suit up for the Western Conference Feb. 14 NBA at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, according to the report. The Utah Jazz point guard is the first NBA All-Star from Illinois since Don Ohl in 1967, according to UI sports information.

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Western Conference Power Rankings

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By Paul M. Banks

1.  Los Angeles Lakers (6-1)

If you missed the battle of Los Angeles opening night broadcast on TNT, consider yourself lucky. The announcers were fawning all over this team and penciling them in at 40-1 already. Easy guys, the ’96 Bulls aren’t leaving the record books anytime soon.

2.  San Antonio Spurs (3-3)

I like the deal for Richard Jefferson a lot. They’re a quicker, younger team, and certainly not your older brother’s Spurs that were slow and plodding. They could be a Finals contender, but must improve their defensive rebounding and guarding the paint.

3. Phoenix Suns (7-1)

Maybe there won’t be a re-building phase after all. And they should be fun to watch in getting those wins too, conquering a foe with scores of 150-145 every so often. It’s like a NBA version of college football’s WAC conference.

4.  Denver Nuggets (5-2)

Don’t expect a let-down from last year’s breakthrough season. They have too much talent, and balance. They also have a certain Gestalt- the whole is more than the sum of the parts. And I’m not talking about the players’ body art. Denver unofficially leads the NBA in tattooed space.markcuban

5.  Dallas Mavericks (4-2)

Is there anything uglier than Shawn Marion’s shot release? Well, actress Julia Styles is no picnic to look at. We must be overdue for a Mark Cuban publicity stunt/fining/fake public outrage/ridiculous boastful public comment. There hasn’t been a news cycle surrounding the attention whore in quite a while. Oh wait, what’s this about him wanting to buy the Dodgers?

6.  Portland Blazers (4-3)

So any day now Greg Oden is going to start playing up to his pre-draft hype, right? Well maybe not. The rebounds and blocks are there, but the scoring? About as lackluster as an Ohio State performance in a national championship game.

7.  Oklahoma City Thunder (3-3)

Kevin Durant and company will make a big step forward this season. You should take the Thunder seriously this year. As long you can get past the fact that their logo and name sounds like either an Arena football or indoor women’s soccer franchise.

8.  Utah Jazz (3-4)

This is Deron Williams’ team, not D. Will & Carlos Boozer’s team. Williams, BY FAR the best player in the league never to have been an All-Star, gets ornery when he loses, so they must get much better on the road, and stop the 4th quarter collapses, if he is to stay in good moods. The defense in the final stanza MUST improve.deronwilliams

9. New Orleans Hornets (2-5)

Every time I’ve asked a college point guard who they look up to in the NBA, they say either Deron Williams or Chris Paul. Those two are the gold standard, and will be inextricably linked like Magic and Bird throughout their careers. I guess it’s fitting that their teams are right at the same level too.

10 Houston Rockets (4-2)

You may ask how they ended up this low, with a record as good as they have. Well, injuries will catch up to them soon enough, and the W-L will soon be under .500.

11.  Los Angeles Clippers (3-4)

If they can tread water long enough till Blake Griffin gets here, they just might be able to squeeze into the playoffs.

12.  Golden State Warriors (1-4)

Stephen Curry’s career is off to a quick start, as he establishes himself near the top of this year’s rookie class. They can succeed if they follow the Phoenix method of winning basketball games- outscore them!

13. Sacramento Kings (3-4)

Everyone makes the Clippers their NBA punchline, but don’t forget about Sac-town. With the exception of a couple years at the beginning of the decade, (and their one fluky deep playoff run) they’ve been tremendous slouches themselves. Don’t let the quick start fool you, they’ll find the basement soon enough.

14.  Minnesota Timberwolves (1-6)

Someone email me some rationale stating that David Kahn truly knows what he is doing. I’d like to think that a person who gets a job as a NBA GM actually has a clue when it comes to basketball decisions, but I just don’t see it.

15.  Memphis Grizzlies (1-6)

That goes double for Memphis’ General Manager Chris Wallace. Seriously, the Zach Randolph trade, the fact that they can’t sell any tickets even though their home court is located right on one of the nation’s biggest parkways of partying (Beale St.), the fact they’ll be a fixture in the lottery for years to come…I’ll stop there.

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Is Derrick Rose Ready to Lead the Bulls?

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By Paul M. Banks

The Chicago Bulls announced Monday that the team picked up the 2010-11 season options for both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. By exercising the respective player options, both will be under contract for 2010-11. This transaction occurred on the same day Rose practiced for the first time in….a long while. Aside from the opener, Rose missed every game this preseason, and concerns in Chicago arose. There were concerns about Rose being ready for the opener vs San Antonio Thursday night. Perhaps those fears have subsided a bit now that he’s working out again, but there are some new questions lingering as the season commences.

How effective will Rose be in the early weeks and how much of his development was stunted by the time he missed? This is a franchise that hasn’t had an All-Star since what seems like forever, and they’ve also gone without a true star/franchise player since Michael Jordan. In the words of Bulls team Captain Kirk Hinrich, “We don’t have an All-Star or anything like that, we have to do it as a group and it takes a specific type of effort to do that.” However, Rose is the only player on the roster with the potential to be that missing All-Star/franchise player- and possibly soon.

Rose, appeared in 81 games (80 starts) last year en route to being selected last year’s NBA Rookie of the Year.  On the season, he averaged 16.8 ppg, a team-high 6.3 apg and 3.9 rpg in 37.0 mpg. The Chicago native shot .475 from the field and .788 from the free throw line.deron_williams

I spoke with Rose at the Berto Center about what he’s working on to bring his game, and his team, to the next level. “My mental part of the game, my approach to it, my offensive game, and approach to it. Defensively- watching players more, their strengths and weaknesses,” he responded. Rose finished the 2008-09 campaign in the top three in several categories all-time among Bulls rookies, including total points (third with 1,361), scoring average (third) and assists (third with 512).  Rose was the first overall selection in the 08 NBA Draft.

This being the golden age of NBA point guards, Rose doesn’t have to look very far to find inspirational role models for achieving that eliteness. I asked him who he looks at specifically.

“Deron Williams a lot, he’s a bigger guard, so I watch him, and watched him all through Illinois, so we have that kind of a connection,” the Chicago native said about one of the biggest stars in University of Illinois history. D. Will has become a huge star for the Utah Jazz, and (due to his Fighting Illini heroics in 2004-05) is extremely popular in Chicago. D. Rose has rightfully set his sites high. And realistically high.