Merely completing a full regular season game without incident is the necessary next step in the rehabilitation of Derrick Rose’s game. Though that seems a foregone conclusion given his play for Team USA this summer and with the Chicago Bulls during the exhibition slate, the same seemed inevitable last season. And while Rose played eight of the first nine games in 2013-2014, he succumbed to another knee injury before November was over. Baby steps are prudent. But the former MVP is feeling good enough to think far bigger. He’s not worried about playing a full game; he’s concerned and even confident with the way he’ll finish them.
Via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Rose says that he’s embracing his inner-Chris Paul by setting teammates up early before taking over with wins on the line:
In past years, selective aggressiveness from its star would only further limit Chicago offensively. The Bulls needed Rose to act as primary playmaker as well as scorer throughout a game’s duration in his first few NBA campaigns.
But this team is different. Pau Gasol is a versatile, talented interior scorer; Joakim Noah is a good finisher and fantastic cutter; Jimmy Butler, assuming health, is primed to rebound from a disappointing 2013-2014; and Chicago is littered with shooters like Doug McDermott, Mike Dunleavy, Nikola Mirotic, and the scorching Kirk Hinrich.
Chicago can do far more than simply getting by while Rose plays the role of a more traditional point guard. The Bulls will still be best known for their defense, but will certainly climb the ranks offensively, too. And a Rose that picks his spots while getting re-acclimated to the speed of meaningful professional basketball could even help in that regard.
The question is if Chicago’s native son can exercise such judicial shot-taking for three quarters before cutting loose in the last one. There’s a reason Paul is the only elite player comfortable doing so – flipping that switch is far easier said than done.
During Rose’s MVP season, he indeed averaged more points and shots per-36 minutes in the final stanza than any other. And while he shot a worse percentage from the field, he also got to the line with frightening ease. The pattern held in 2011-2012. Rose averaged 38.8 points and 38.3 points per 100 fourth quarter possessions in each season, respectively, wild numbers outpacing his production in the preceding three.
He’s shown he can successfully turn on his scoring game when the Bulls need it most. And given Rose’s inevitable in-game growing pains, perhaps such a strategy will allow him to be most efficient after getting his feet wet for games’ first 36 minutes.
Either way, it’s just good to hear Rose express such confidence. He’s routinely stressed that health is of no physical or mental burden to him anymore. Here’s hoping Rose shows it on the court this season – in all four quarters.
*Statistical support for this post provided by nba.com/stats.
What do you think?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.