Coming off a successful 2015 postseason, in which he hit a game-winner against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Derrick Rose turned down an offer to attend USA Basketball mini camp in order to spend his summer like a regular basketball player.
Three years of rehab weighing on him, Rose admitted to having “tunnel vision” over the summer, fueled by the prospect of incredible riches when he hits free agency in 2017.
And still, Rose would not get a quiet summer in the lab. A former female partner accused Rose, along with his friends, of rape in an alleged 2012 incident.
He has repeatedly claimed his innocence, while regretting his indiscretions of the past.
As Rose has learned, an incredibly rich basketball player must live with nearly unattainable expectations—not only in one’s decision-making off the court, but as a professional on the court.
In all, Rose did not have a terrible season last year. He played in 51 regular-season games (more than he played in the previous two seasons combined), and 12 games in the post-season.
He had his right meniscus removed in February, and looked far more comfortable afterward in the Playoffs. He fixed a completely broken, line-drive of a three-point shot, and eventually converted a respectable 34.8 percent in the Playoffs.
The season was a re-acclimation process. One that can be deemed a success merely because he finished the season healthy and on a good note.
But the fact remains that former MVP Derrick Rose, while in his prime at almost 27 years old, is no longer what we would call an elite player in the League. Rose now painfully watches his contemporaries—Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin—take the reigns of a League that once was his.
He claims that he can still be the MVP. But do we believe that he’ll ever again be the MVP of his own team?
In new head coach Fred Hoiberg’s space-and-pace offense, Rose will have to become more efficient with the ball. An incredibly high 47.9 percent of Rose’s shots last season were taken after he dribbled the ball three or more times. That type of ball-stopping action will not fly this year.
Of course, Rose is most dangerous when he’s driving to the basket, and he should see plenty of opportunities to slash given Hoiberg’s affinity for high ball screens and spacing the floor with shooters.
His pull-up jumper from the mid-range has to be respected. His floater, feared. When the defense collapses, his unique court vision allows him to create a number of assist opportunities for teammates.
There is cause for some concern, though, as Rose produced at only a League-average rate when running in the pick-and-roll last season, and was almost ineffective (bottom 16th percentile) when running the fast break.
Rose tries to do too much with the ball at times, and gets forced into bad turnovers. He threw the ball away on average 1.75 times per game last season, a number that jumped up to 2 intercepted passes per contest in the postseason.
Sadly, after a summer spent on fine-tuning his game, Rose will miss training camp and most of pre-season with a fractured orbital bone. The injury doesn’t seem to threaten his chances of playing in Chicago’s regular-season opener, but it’s another reminder that D-Rose can never just be a regular basketball player.
With great riches comes great responsibly. No one said it would be easy.
|SLAM Top 50 Players 2015|
Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2015-16—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.