At one point, Derrick Rose was the NBA’s most exciting player, and he paved the way for all the athletic, scoring point guards that dominate the league.
What led to his extreme rise in popularity were the acrobatic reverse layups where Rose would contort his body every which way before subtly kissing the ball off the glass. Those are much rarer, but one on Tuesday drew “oohs” and “aahs” from the Garden faithful.
The former MVP finished with 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting and handed out five assists before confessing to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
“That vintage (Rose) is gone, man. I told you the question should be: Can I hoop? I can hoop. It shouldn’t be like he’s playing like his old self. Like, if I can hoop, I can hoop, no matter if I did that when I was younger or now. I can play the game of basketball.”
Rose has undergone numerous knee operations since coming into the league in 2008. From 2011-2015, when all the procedures took place, Rose played in 100 games out a possible 328, and this included missing the 2012-13 year entirely.
Last year, his final campaign with the Chicago Bulls, Rose laced up for 66 games and saw the most action since his MVP year back in 2011. Just by crunching the numbers, it’s evident that Rose has dropped off — significantly. When he brought the MVP to Chicago, Rose averaged 25 points a night on a respectable 44.5 percent from the field.
His blinding quickness and other-worldly explosiveness gave him a host of easy attempts around the rim and as that’s diminished, so has his scoring numbers.
Fortunately for the Knicks, Rose is still productive to a certain degree. He struggled to start the season, but he also missed a ton of practice time and the entire preseason dealing with a civil suit in Los Angeles.
Never Forget: Derrick Rose calls Knicks a superteam
He’s scored in double-digits in all but one game, and his shooting isn’t down in the dumps like it was in previous years. Through 14 games, the Knicks sit at 7-7 have won three of their last four.
Over that stretch, Rose’s scoring clip is up to 18.5, and he hasn’t shot New York out of any ball games.
Despite all the injuries, Rose’s strength is attacking the basket, and he’s still got a decent amount of athleticism. He’s never refined his jump shot, which hurts his game a lot because defenders can sag off of him, but he had the confidence to go to it late in Tuesday’s win.
“I finally shot the ball up. It’s all legs, man. That’s what I mean. Like your whole life you’re used to a 1-2 rhythm. You have one injury, and that kind of resets everything. Let alone you have three, and you’ve got to find your 1-2, how high you want your jump on your shot, how high you want to jump on your threes.”
“I missed preseason. All those little things count. Like, this entire time, these three or four years, I’m playing catch-up.”
With less than seven seconds left, the former first overall pick buried a mid-range jumper over the Blazers’ Maurice Harkless, sealing the contest.
The Knicks have the talent to be a low-seed playoff team, but Rose’s consistency — both on the court and with his health — is one of the biggest variables in their success.
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