Playoffs? Lets talk .500 first
Let's face it, draft night is always an adventure for the franchise that once selected Lonny Kluttz (1970) and Chubby Cox (1978).
But the Bulls made their pick without any apparent belly-flopping or banana-slipping Wednesday, using the second choice overall to select Duke guard Jay (nee Jason) Williams.
There is nothing wrong with the Williams pick, just as there would have been nothing wrong with a Mike Dunleavy pick, a Drew Gooden pick or the ever-popular Maybyner "Nene" Hilario pick.
But Wednesday was another big reminder of how long the Bulls' rebuilding has taken and how long it is going to take. Williams is a fine player, but to expect that he'll be able to turn around the Bulls anytime soon is ludicrous.
I know what the talk is going to be among the true believers Thursday morning: Williams and Trenton Hassell at guard, Jalen Rose and Tyson Chandler at forward, and Eddy Curry at center. Playoff talk.
I would suggest some sort of medication adjustment.
Let's start with age first. Williams is 20. Hassell is 23. Curry and Chandler are each 19. Rose, at 29, is going to have to start collecting Pampers coupons. "We're going to be together for a while," Chandler said. "We're young and there are a lot of veteran teams. We've got young, lively legs. It's going to be difficult at the beginning of the season, but hopefully all that stuff wears off."
With a gleam in his eye, Chandler talks about being on a fast break with Williams and Rose next season. I think about Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson waiting for them.
Let's move onto NBA potential. Are you fully sold on Curry and Chandler, who are a little more than a year removed from high school basketball careers? I'm not. Chandler shows exceptional athleticism and a willingness to work, but he remains an unknown commodity. Curry has a long way to go too.
Williams can play, and he's strong. But I get a little concerned when the Bulls' top draft pick is only a little taller than NBA Commissioner David "Spud" Stern.
Jamal Crawford has more press clippings about his potential than he has NBA minutes. So far, the fact that Michael Jordan has fallen in love with Crawford's game is Crawford's biggest credential.
Chandler wouldn't have any of this Wednesday night, predicting that the Bulls would be at least .500 next season. Williams' fire was raging as well.
"I've talked to a lot of NBA guys," he said on a conference call. "When teams went into Chicago the past few years, the main thing they were thinking about was, 'There's a great restaurant here' or 'We can go to a nightclub here.'
"Back in the [championship era] when you came to Chicago, it was like, 'I better get my rest because I'm playing the Bulls tomorrow.' I'm trying to get that back to Chicago."
What Williams has going for him, besides his leadership ability, is his eagerness to play here. Four years after the ugly break-up of the Bulls, not everyone views the Berto Center as a maximum-security prison. Williams spent the past month politicking to play for the Bulls and, because of it, having his temperature taken.
(Fresno State's Melvin Ely, who attended Thornton High School, went to the Los Angeles Clippers with the 12th pick. What does he plan to do now that he's a pro? "Whatever I do, get my mother out of Harvey," he said. Hello, Harvey!)
Draft night is about optimism, so don't let me dump fire retardants on your enthusiasm. But this team needs more veterans, if for nothing else than to make a beer run. The Bulls are a few years away from even knowing what they have.
Let's set our sights a little lower. The best thing here is that Williams helps bring more legitimacy to the Bulls, a process that started with Rose's acquisition from Indiana.
Maybe now free agents don't think of reasons why they shouldn't come to Chicago. Maybe now they think less about Jerry Krause and more about Williams.
It was hard to shake the image of Krause getting the news early Wednesday that Yao Ming would be going to Houston with the first pick, thus making the Bulls' decision easy.
"An agent woke me up at 5:30 in the morning," Krause said. "My wife and I were sleeping. I rolled over and told her what happened, and she hugged me. And we all felt pretty good." He laughed.
I'd prefer to think about Williams' scoring abilities.