Thursday , Feb , 26 , 2009 C.Y. Ellis

Rose and Harris the Future of the East?

Rose and Harris the Future of the East?True to form, the seats were on the empty side. There was minimal crowd noise, so low you could often hear trash talk from player to player. And if not the trash talk, a head coach using his distinct vocabulary to yell at a official. 

This was life at the Izod Center last night. Often like a morgue, only minus the cadavers, and the home court advantage. 

Regardless of the reality, this place has been home to some good basketball over the years in a variety of different ways. Last night, Derrick Rose and his Chicago Bulls came to town to take on Devin Harris and the New Jersey Nets. 

The point guard match up was the most intriguing plot line of the night. The number one pick in the running for ROY , against Harris, the lightning guard making a name for himself as an elite player. For any other interest, the Nets win last night pulled them into a tie with Chicago for 9th place in the East behind Milwaukee. 

The battle between the Bulls and Nets could have been a preview for the next batch of up and coming teams. Both being led by star floor generals, but both players lead with a significantly different style of play. 

The future of the Eastern Conference. In a couple years, the Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets could (“could” being the keyword) be one of the better teams, if not serious contenders in the East. I know lots of you will disagree, especially on the Jersey front since many refuse to acknowledge they exist. But I see lots of positives, lots of upside on  both sides. 

Derrick Rose

It starts with Derrick Rose, and with no doubts, will certainly end with him. When I mention the word “talent” with the Bulls, it’s mostly in regards to drooling over what the combination Derrick Rose and Tyrus Thomas can be.  The play of Thomas has gotten better as the season has gone on, which is a welcome sight if the Bulls have any shot of competing for the future. Offensively, Rose has helped give Thomas some confidence, feeding him the ball in transition, and making heads turn on nasty lob passes.  If Tyrus keeps knocking down the mid range jumper with efficiency, then I see the chemistry with Derrick Rose being undeniable. 

On a Bulls article, a couple months ago, I said the following:

“It would certainly help in a best case scenario situation that Derrick Rose became Jason Kidd to Tyrus Thomas’s Kenyon Martin. Tyrus has a lot of simularities to Martin’s game, and if you recall, Kenyon started to burst with confidence once he started running the floor with Kidd. Maybe it will take Derrick Rose to bring out the inner star in Tyrus Thomas.”

I will stick by these words. And to add to that, Rose has decent enough chance to become the game’s next great point guard. He has the vision to make others better, yet is a great athlete and can attack the rim. You don’t see too many players with his ability to get in the paint and be a scoring threat as much as he is a passing threat. 

With Thomas by his side or not, Derrick Rose will evolve even further next year, bringing Chicago’s place in the standings higher, and good enough to make a run this year. 

Devin Harris

Lets start off by being real, Vince Carter is most likely waving goodbye to New Jersey this summer. This leaves you with the thinking of Devin Harris running the show for the future. Brook Lopez and Yi Jianlian look to be the running mates, with Lopez showcasing a better synergy with Harris.  There’s a lot to like in Jersey. Budding star at the point, a seven footer averaging 2 blocks and over 8 rebounds per game as a rookie, and that nice little nugget we call cap space for 2010. 

Harris is back to his early season ways of not being afraid to shoot, which was once a solid weakness. Harris has been aggressive shooting the three when opponents go under the screen, and the lack of thinking shows the results. It also shows when defenders have to respect his jump shot, because the lane slowly opens up. 

The future is Harris and Lopez, with maybe some Yi mixed in. Harris and Lopez on the pick & roll is looking to be devastating, and even better, looks to have room for improvement. That’s what you’ll be seeing for the next 5 years, but the Nets still have their work cut out for them if they’d like to contend. 

Devin Harris, believe it or not, has to get better in certain areas. No players are perfect, and if you want to be in a elite class, you must be a solid or serviceable defender. Harris has drawn acclaim for cooling off Tony Parker in the playoffs, put his defense in Jersey leaves something to be desired. 

Speaking of defense, Devin needs to break out of the habit of complaining to officials. There have been a handful of occasions this year where he’s argued and left his team under manned on the other side of the floor. Considering how poor the Nets are defensively, you can’t leave them without a defender. 

The Nets have some pieces, but I have to see these characteristics improve over the next couple years to be sold on contention:

It’s nice to have an anchor in Lopez, but a commitment to containing the ball needs to be preached in a consistent manor. Too often, ball handlers get into the paint at will, which basically exposes the Net’s poor three point defense. 

-It’s very simple, when your key guys are forced to give up the ball, you better have guys to knock down shots. This could be used right now with the attention garnered between Harris and Lopez. I’m sure the thoughts of management show hope for Yi stepping up as a third scorer. 

I see lots of promise and upside for both clubs going into the future. I see Rose having the better shot at being great, but I see the gem of a big man sitting in East Rutherford. 

As for this year, both teams are very young at this point. If Milwaukee folds because of injury, I could see both Chicago and New Jersey making their own runs. But it would be foolish to think anybody will run away with the eighth spot. 

Which of these two teams has a better shot at the playoffs this year? And which point guard would you rather have leading your squad?  Let us know your thoughts down below.