Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has come under heaps of scrutiny the past few years, and that hasn’t changed this year. To go along with some questionable comments, Rose broke his face at the beginning of training camp and recently failed to put up double-digit points in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. The numbers painted the picture of one of the worst players in the league, and when you couple that with the latest rumblings that Rose and the Bulls are headed for a breakup, the pessimism surrounding Rose in Chicago was at a fever pitch.
But Rose showed he can still be an effective NBA player by putting up 29 points, seven assists and five rebounds in a big win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night. 12 of his points came in the fourth quarter, with Rose continuously taking advantage of the Thunder switching on pick-and-rolls:
Rose’s performance doesn’t mean he’s “back” or anything like that. He still needs to show consistency, something that’s been lacking since his MVP days. And by consistency, I don’t mean putting up 25 a game like he did when he was MVP, but simply avoiding the duds that have too often cropped up.
Realistically, MVP Derrick Rose doesn’t exist anymore. As multiple scouts and executives told CBS Sports’ Ken Berger, the elite-level lift and explosiveness that made Rose a transcendent talent appears to be gone.
However, Rose’s effort against the Thunder was no doubt promising, and his shot chart is as well:
Yeah, there’s a lot of red there, but the key is in the distribution. Nearly 36 percent of his shots have come at the rim and over 60 percent of his shots have come in the paint. He’s only taken nine three-pointers in six games after chucking up three-pointers at will last season. He’s realized (at least for now) that treys aren’t his game, and is mostly sticking to mid-range when taking jumpers.
A big issue has been finishing in the paint, and that’s where the loss of explosiveness has come into play. Too often he’ll wildly drive into the trees and throw up a tough shot that has little chance of going in. The aggressiveness is nice, but he needs to be smarter with his decisions around the basket (would also be nice if he could get a few more whistles). In addition to that, there’s hope that some of his touch around the rim will return so some of those contested looks will go in.
Again, it’d be foolish at this stage to expect Rose to get back to his MVP form. And who knows about his long-term future in Chicago. At this point, the Bulls have to plan for a future both with and without him. But for the short term, he can still help the Bulls be a contender in the Eastern Conference.