Derrick Rose, MVP
Does it still sound crazy?
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
It’s only January and there is still lots more basketball left to be played in the ’10-’11 NBA season, but I think it’s time that we acknowledged Derrick Rose as a legitimate candidate for MVP this season.
The initial comment, masked as a question, was made by Rose on Chicago’s media day prior to the season. And if you know DRose, you knew that the words coming out of his mouth he was very serious about.
“The way I look at it, why can’t I be MVP in the league? Why can’t I be the best player in the league? I don’t see why not. I work hard; I dedicate myself to the game and sacrifice a lot of things at a young age.”
While, critics of Rose went into a collective, “This guy must be crazy!” and “Who does he think he is?” stance once his comments hit the mainstream media, SLAM devoted a feature article and a cover to his statement in spite of people methodically picking Rose apart and rattling off all the reasons why the third year PG supposedly had no chance at winning the award:
He can’t shoot. His assists are low. He can’t run a team. He’s not a true PG. He can’t create for others. He’s not a leader. He’s Allen Iverson or Steve Francis 2.0. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Paul are all better than him.
But that was in September.
Four months later it can no longer be denied that Rose has a real shot at being named the best player in the NBA at season’s end as long as he stays healthy and the Bulls continue to play well and keep racking up the W’s.
While the MVP award in and of itself is nothing more than a popularity contest, individual and team success certainly factor into the equation and Derrick Rose is certainly experiencing both.
His field goal percentage is down slightly (49 percent last year to 46 percent this year) but his 3-point field goal shooting has increased dramatically. Last year he shot a putrid 27 percent. But this year, he’s shooting a blistering 38 percent from beyond the arc, something that admittedly, I didn’t think he could do.
He’s also distributing the ball better as well.
In his first two seasons in the NBA, Rose averaged 6 assists per game which according to many, is inexcusable for a PG. But this year he’s upped his average to 8 assists per game, due in large part to the free-agent acquisition of Carlos Boozer in the low post and Tom Thibodeau’s offensive system which opens up a lot of perimeter shooting opportunities due to an increased emphasis on ball movement and Rose’s ability to get into the paint and kick the ball out to the open man.
Rose is also averaging 1 steal per game this year after averaging less than 1 per game the last two seasons, and his rebounds are up (4.5 per game) along with his scoring (21ppg last season, to 24ppg this season) this season.
But more importantly than his individual stats, the Chicago Bulls are winning.
The team is currently sitting at 25-12 and third in the Eastern Conference which is the Bulls best standing and win-loss record through 37 games that Chicago has had since they last won a championship in 1998. Although some may attribute the team’s success to Tom Thibodeau’s defensive philosophies and the addition of Boozer, the phenomenal play of Derrick Rose is the single biggest reason for Chicago’s success.
His steadily improving game has earned him consistent praise from opposing coaches and players around the League, and even Kobe Bryant, whom Rose often cites as one of the players who motivates him, weighed in on his thoughts of Derrick as a player during LA’s annual trip to Chicago last month.
“I think the sky’s the limit for him. You see now, with the improvement he’s made on his jump shot, just last year to this year, how his game has really gone to another level. I think he’s just scratching the surface,” said Bryant who also commented on Rose’s work ethic.
“I don’t think you can develop that. I think you either have it or you don’t. I think he’s had that since high school. That separates players, I think. Players of equal ability, it’s about the engine that you have inside. It certainly gives him an edge.”
Said Thibodeau on his star point guard’s play this year, “He’s having an MVP season, but he’s an MVP guy. I think his leadership has been tremendous.”
And it was teammate Joakim Noah who may have summed up Derrick Rose and his MVP level of play this season the best.
“I think at first when he said it in the beginning of the season everybody kind of looked at him like he was crazy. But he’s somebody that has a lot of confidence in his ability and we’re playing at a pretty high level right now because of it. He’s somebody that understands that the success of this team is going to determine a lot of things for him individually. He understands that well. Ever since he got into the League he’s understood that it’s not about his stats, it’s about the success of this team that’s going to bring everything.”
Including, quite possibly, a Maurice Podloff trophy which would make him only the second Bulls player to win the NBA’s highest individual honor since you-know-who.