Few have fallen from grace as quickly as Derrick Rose, and the former MVP hasn’t yet found a team for the 2017-18 season.
It’s been six years since Derrick Rose won the NBA MVP. Over the stretch, he’s battled injury after injury and is nothing like the player who was poised to take the league by storm. A mix of knee and ankle ailments have zapped Rose’s once revolutionary athleticism, and it’s rendered him almost useless to any team that signs him.
The year he got named most valuable player was his peak — 25.0 points and 7.7 assists in 81 games. Rose also landed on the second of three-straight All-Star teams, but it was also the last time he’d suit up for more than 66 games. In 2012, Rose appeared in 39 contests. He didn’t play at all in 2013. Over the next four years, the once hyper-explosive guard laced up for 10, 51, 66 and 64 games, respectively.
Rose’s most recent campaign was with the New York Knicks, who traded Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant and Robin Lopez for Rose, Justin Holiday and a 2017 second-round pick. Everyone has a Ph.D. from the University of Hindsight. The most puzzling part about everything surrounding him is that this past season was the best he’s played since 2012. It’s bizarre. Rose averaged 18.0 points on 47.1 percent shooting, and also added in 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds. On the surface, the numbers are solid. Once you dig a bit deeper, though, you realize that all that glitters isn’t gold.
As we inch closer to the season, it appears that the Knicks want nothing to do with Rose. Some other teams — Milwaukee, San Antonio — have had their names mentioned alongside him, but nothing’s come of it. I don’t have any sources, so I can’t give information about Rose’s negotiations with other teams. If I had to guess, money would be the root of any disagreement.
The 28-year-old is coming off a year where he earned more than $21 million. No one is going to give that to him. I have total confidence in saying this for multiple reasons. First, it’s already July. As the free agency period wears on, teams are less-inclined to give out huge paydays. If it were earlier, then I wouldn’t be so stubborn. But here we are. The second reason is his play, and this is where it gets interesting.
A few months ago, I wrote about a potential Ricky Rubio-Rose trade. I didn’t praise the former MVP but merely illustrated how he’s not as bad as some people believe. As a community, we need to realize that the old Rose isn’t coming back. Fans must acknowledge this and so must the organizations if they haven’t already. (I’m sure they have since he’s still on the market, but you get my hyperbole.)
Rose’s limited skill set is what’s slashes his earning potential. When he first entered the league, he was the most athletic point guard we had ever seen; imagine Kyrie Irving‘s acrobatics combined with Russell Westbrook‘s explosiveness. Not only could Rose go up and over you and put you on a poster, but he could also go up and under you before kissing the ball high off the glass. It was something to behold. And it’s a damn shame it’s never coming back. His dynamic offense masked any deficiencies, a common happening for any star.
At his peak, he was a barely average defender. Now he’s one of the worst in the league, and the Knicks were 5.5 points worse per 100 possessions with him on the court. A lot of it is rooted in his effort and just appearing inept on that end. Some of it, however, falls on the team as a collective. In Chicago, the Bulls had such a strong defense that it allowed Rose to hide. The Knicks don’t afford him that luxury, and now it’s much more noticeable because he’s matching up across from the deepest talent pool the point guard position has ever seen. That doesn’t excuse a lack of effort on his end. I want to make that abundantly clear.
Even since his early days, Rose has never been an aggressive defender, which is perplexing given his physicals tool. If that were the case, at least we’d be able to give him the benefit of the doubt if he got burned but was playing hard.
So, if you’re an organization looking for a defensive stopper — turn around right now! Quick, before it’s too late!
We’ve ruled out one side of the floor. That leaves us with the more entertaining part: offense. It now gets interesting.
Rose was one of 16 players to average 18 points and shoot at least 47 percent from the floor. As an aggregate, it’s an impressive list. By association, Rose is an All-Star level player, right? Unfortunately, not anymore. The numbers are nice, but they don’t fit the modern NBA. Because of that, Rose won’t be able to bear the same load that he’s used to. His shooting clip is weighed down by his dreadful three-point stroke, which was at 21.7 percent by the end of the season, landing him at the bottom of this list. Giannis Antetokounmpo was the second-closest at 27.2. Furthermore, Rose was in the cellar in both effective field goal and true shooting percentage, not an assuring ranking from a guard.
One thing I give credit where it’s due is shot selection. On Rose’s front, it could’ve been a lot worse. He’s accepted his range for what it is and attempted just 60 threes during the campaign. Every triple Rose doesn’t launch is an excellent shot, and it allows him to put himself in a position to succeed.
Now, I understand he can do things like make boneheaded decisions when passing. But that’s always been a problem. His stratospheric usage offsets it. This year was no different. Rose’s turnover percentage was 11.9 percent, meaning he commits about 12 turnovers for every 100 plays. That’s a solid mark for a point guard, but his assist rate isn’t as kind. At 22.8, Rose posted the lowest of his career and it gives any coach a lineup dilemma.
Is Derrick Rose a shooting guard who can’t shoot or a point guard who can’t make sound decisions? Both are correct. Much like everything else, Rose has been a terrible shooter over his eight seasons, but it has never been as pitiful as this past season. Any team looking for his service needs to have floor spacers because Rose won’t do anything to help it. The Knicks were far from the best perimeter shooting team (34.8 percent, 21st overall), but Rose didn’t help their cause. Conversely, he can still get to the cup with ease from time-to-time, but that every-trip-down blow by for a dunk or contorting reverse layup is gone.
They say that money doesn’t change you; it just amplifies who you already are. That’s the case with Derrick Rose, but, instead of money, he got put in the most critical environment for sports — New York City. I’m a firm believer that 95 percent of players in the NBA need to be in the right situation to thrive. Rose falls into that group.
He’s not built for widespread success in today’s NBA, but that could all change if Rose starts the 2017-18 season with a reliable outside jumper. Even if that happens, Rose is going to have to come to grips with signing a considerably smaller deal than he expected, and that may also include a role where he comes off the bench. That’s not the end of the world, but I expect that Rose would have a hard time swallowing that pill.
No, he wouldn’t be a bench warmer — probably the sixth or seventh guy. Rose is good enough to create some quick offense if the team needs it, but that’s about it. That one-dimensional game may fetch a fat paycheck if you’re an exceptional player, but Rose is no longer that.
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