MICHAEL BEASLEY or Derrick Rose? The power forward with all-court skills or the point guard with the ability to control games? That is the question for the Chicago Bulls. It is also a question for all of us.
Really, who is better? Is there any difference? Are they such dissimilar players that it really does not make any difference?
Steve Rosenberry has an opinion with a caveat. Rosenberry, a longtime Philadelphia-based NBA scout for the Sonics, recently took a scouting job with the Hawks.
"I know exactly who Beasley is as a player," Rosenberry said. "I'm closer to Beasley's talent because I know him better because I worked him out for a month. This would be a better conversation if I either worked out both or had worked out neither."
Beasley's numbers (26.2 points, 12.4 rebounds) at Kansas State were ridiculous. Consider that in his first college game, he had 32 points and 24 rebounds. In his third game, he got 28 and 22. He had a double-double in 28 of 33 games. He finished as the nation's third leading scorer and leading rebounder.
Beasley's 866 points were the third most by a freshman in Division I history. Only LSU's Chris Jackson (965) and Texas' Kevin Durant (903 in three more games than Beasley) had more.
On Jan. 30, after guaranteeing his team would beat 20-0 Kansas and end a 24-game home losing streak to the eventual national champions, Beasley's team beat KU, 84-75.
All that matters on some level. What Rosenberry saw and felt matters on another level.
"This is my 23rd year in the league," Rosenberry said. "All those years in Seattle with two sure-fire Hall of Famers, [Gary] Payton and [Ray] Allen, [Shawn] Kemp would have been. He's more talented than any of them.
"That's a pretty profound statement. What he does 15 years from now, none of us have a crystal ball. Someone said, 'Well, he's an undersized four.' " I said, "So was Barkley.' "
Beasley first came to Philadelphia 2 years ago when his Oak Hill Academy team played Episcopal Academy at the Palestra. On a team with Ty Lawson, Nolan Smith and several other Division I players, Beasley, just a junior then, stood out because of his off-the-charts athleticism. In his one college season, he showed a unique skill-set.
The new NBA loves point guards that can get into the lane and power forwards that can shoot. Beasley can shoot and will create significant matchup problems for any plodding big men.
"He will be a great, not a good, a great NBA three-point shooter," Rosenberry said.
So, let's think about this. Beasley has great low-post moves and beautiful footwork. He can shoot. He rebounds.
Other than Billy Walker and Beasley, K-State really did not have much. Yet, the Wildcats won 21 games, including an NCAA first-round upset of O.J. Mayo and USC.
Rosenberry had scouted Beasley, but still wasn't certain about his athletic ability. He is certain now.
"He would do stuff around the basket that was hard to believe," Rosenberry said. "And he's unbelievably competitive. He has to win. His basketball IQ is off the charts."
Rosenberry is confident that when four NBA players surround Beasley, all he knows and all he does will be showcased even more. Play him with a "small," Rosenberry is confident, "you will go right into the low post and he will embarrass you in there. The big fours try to guard him, forget it."
Rosenberry has nothing bad to say about Rose. In fact, he loves him. Who doesn't?
Rose dominated the NCAA Tournament. In the national semifinal against UCLA, he made two of the faster players in college basketball, Russell Westbrook and Darren Collison, look slow. It was like somebody was in the stands with a controller making Rose go faster than everybody. Only there was no controller.
Rose was a very good player in November, great by April. In a league where Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Tony Parker have become three of the best players, a point guard who can go wherever he wants whenever he wants is as highly valued as dominant big men were back in the day.
"Rose is a special player to me because I am consumed with point guards," Rosenberry said. "It is what the NBA has become because of Paul, Williams and Parker . . . I think this kid can bring that . . . He's terrific. He's absolutely a great, great player."
Chicago probably can't go wrong - if the Bulls take hometown hero Rose or Beasley. You have to think Miami, holding No. 2, wants Chicago to take Rose.
Rose and Dwyane Wade have very similar styles. Each needs the ball to be effective. Wade and Beasley would work much better and instantly make Miami a player in the East again.
Either way, the Heat can't be wrong down the road. The Bulls could be, but, really, Rose and Beasley both look like potential NBA stars.
Rosenberry, for one, is convinced about Beasley.
"We always talked in Seattle about levels of greatness," Rosenberry said. "There is a huge difference between an All-Star and All-Pro. People don't think of that. Twenty-four guys make the All-Star team and 10 guys make All-Pro, first and second team. Beasley could be All-Pro one day. That's how good he is."
Beasley just turned 19 in January. He is, Rosenberry said, "silly."
Silly can be untaught. Over time, it often just disappears.
Talent can't be taught. Michael Beasley has the talent.
"My workouts are hard," Rosenberry said. "It's high energy, a lot of running, a lot of skill work, tons and tons of reps."
We see the end product in the games. What we don't see is all the private hours players spend getting ready for those public moments. Next season, we will get to see Rose and Beasley in public on basketball's biggest stage.
"Neither one will fail," Rosenberry said. "It doesn't matter who you take. They both have a chance to be All-Pro. That's how good they are." *