2011 Derrick Rose Or Bust For the Chicago Bulls?

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Updated: July 17, 2014
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Derrick Rose is something of an anomaly in the world of basketball. He’s an easy target and the butt of many jokes across the social media world due to his persistent knee problems over the last few seasons. But when people talk about old Derrick Rose, you know, the pre-knee injury Derrick Rose, they can only think of great things to say about the 25-year-old Chicago native. Unfortunately, Rose has not been able to help his team on the court for the last couple of seasons and the worst part about his injuries is the realization that his health is the only thing really holding the Chicago Bulls from being something special.

The Bulls were contenders with a healthy Derrick Rose in his 2011 MVP season when he won the award of LeBron James, the games best player. But since then, the Bulls have always been a player or two away from getting over the hump, and one of those players is a healthy D-Rose. But with two knee surgeries and basically two full years away from the game, what should we make of the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose going forward?


Money, Injuries, and Why Franchises Are Crippled By Injuries…


In the NBA, salary cap is king. The salary cap and the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA Players Association and the Owners makes sure of one thing and one thing only, owners hold most of the power. Because of the CBA and NBA rules in general, going over the salary cap has high tax on the dollar implications. For those teams that throw caution (and money) to the wind and try to build teams, the salary cap means nothing. Certain teams are built that way and could care less about the luxury tax, the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks are two teams that come to mind.

But neither team has been successful since the Richard Nixon administration so following their lead is terrible. The Chicago Bulls are not an organization that conducts business in this manner. They don’t like having to spend money in luxury tax and try to make the team as viable and competitive as possible while balancing the books. That’s the way to do business in the NBA. The problem is now that they don’t know what they’re getting with Rose, and his contract is looking like the same albatross that Deron Williams and Amar’e Stoudamire’s are looking for the Nets and Knicks respectively. In December of 2011, the Chicago Bulls maxed out Derrick Rose and gave him a 5-year $94 Million deal which constituted 30% of the Bulls salary cap.

He was the corner-stone of the franchise and was on his way to being one of the best players in the Association. Since then it’s been all down hill for Rose. He injured his Knee and missed the entire 2012-2013 season. He came back for 10 games during the 2013-2014 season and injured is other knee and was out for the rest of the season. Now a dark realization is starting to sink in, the Bulls owe Rose roughly $60 million over the next 3 seasons, and that’s a frightening amount of money for an injury prone point guard. As a Nets fan I know all about this. Deron Williams has been an utter disappointment since he signed a 5-year $100 million dollar deal with the Nets two seasons ago. Every season since that max contract Deron’s numbers have gotten worse and worse, but every season his money stays the same.

Deron is injury prone, lacks the dedication to stay in shape, and has the reputation of a coach killer. Deron was supposed to be the man who helped take the Nets to the next level. Unfortunately his poor play and contract is the main thing holding the Nets back. The Nets thought they were signing Utah Jazz Deron Williams who was in the conversation of best point guard in the Association with Chris Paul. Those days seem like they were decades ago. Angle injuries and poor form have sapped Deron Williams game to the point that during the 2013-2014 season, a case could be made that Shaun Livingston was a better starting option for the Nets.

How the mighty have fallen. This might be the same grim reality the Chicago Bulls are facing now. Nets fans want Deron gone and as soon as possible. That’s unrealistic, plus Deron is 30 years old and with his injuries father time caught up to him rather quickly. And this is the same reality the Chicago Bulls are facing now. Those knee injuries to Rose’s game are like kryptonite. The most exciting portion of Rose’s game is his leaping ability and pure speed. But unlike the Nets the Bulls have hope because of Rose’s age. Derrick Rose is only 25 years old and is still not in his physical prime. The Bulls are in a better position with their point guard than the Nets are. So that’s something to hold on to. But when Rose does return, what should we expect?


The Old Rose May No Longer Be A Realistic Expectation

Courtesy of guardianlv.com

The Old Rose we remember before the two knee injuries looked something like:


But there is no guarantee this is the Rose that will come back in November. His knees won’t be the same so some of that explosiveness that defined his game will be gone. He will have to be a smarter player and re-invent his game in the event that he’s lost that explosiveness that separated him from 95% of the players in the league. During his MVP season in 2011 Rose averaged 25 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds on 44% FGA. There is no reason his assists should drop once he returns, if anything his assists should go up. Rose will have to become more of a facilitator than he was before.

He will have to average around the 10 assists per game mark for his game to really help the Bulls. Rose will also have to become a far better shooter than he was before he left. If Rose isn’t able to get to the basket like he did pre-knee injuries, his points are going to have to come from sweet spots he find on the floor with jump shooting. I have no idea what Rose was working on while he was out but for the Bulls sake his jump shot has to get far better now. The closer he gets to the 50% mark with his shooting the better than Bulls will be.

I don’t know how explosive Rose will be but I would imagine he would still have enough quickness to create his own shot if necessary. If so then his shooting will save him and the explosive flying to the basket Rose we all remember will still be very effective. And that new Rose will work perfectly with what he will be coming back to in the Fall.


The New Look Bulls Will Compliment Rose Nicely…


Now keep in mind everything I’m writing is with the expectation Derrick Rose won’t be the same Derrick Rose of old. I hope the world is wrong and he comes back just as insanely athletic as ever. I believe it’s possible but I seem to be in the minority. So keeping with the “Rose won’t be the same guy narrative,” this roster is tailor-made for a jump shooting assist happy Rose. The Bulls have added two players that will get decent production once the ball touches their hands, Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott.

Pau Gasol is as skilled a big man as the NBA has season in quite some time. Gasol is good with his back to the basket, he go down low or shoot from mid-range with precision. If Rose can get the ball to an open Gasol at the right place on the floor, Gasol will be able to do damage next to Joakim Noah. Then there’s the rookie Doug McDermott. McDermott is an amazing shooter and I don’t expect that to change once he starts playing regular NBA minutes.

McDermott is a 6’8 sharp shooter and although Summer League is no indication of what a player will do during an actual NBA season, McDermott has been shooting the lights out of the Summer League gyms. With Rose’s quickness and vision he will find McDermott just like he will have to find Gasol for easy jumpers from mid-range. Add in Noah, this new European player who’s supposed to be really good Nikola Mirotic, Kirk Heinrich and their other role players, the Bulls may be able to get to the NBA Finals. 

With the old Derrick Rose and the new players on the Bulls, I would put them as favorites in the East. If the Bulls get some version of the old Derrick Rose back I will still put them in the Eastern Conference Finals and a contender for the Finals. I still believe Rose will be back to old self, well, at least I’m hoping Rose will be back to his old self. If the NBA can see 2011 Derrick Rose back then the NBA will be a better league and I think the Bulls would be the title favorites between their roster, their defensive prowess and Tom Thibodeau who is a top 5 NBA coach. Only time will tell if Rose comes back the same. But just purely as a basketball fan, I hope Rose comes back 100% and as great as before. He was a great talent, fun to watch, and his inclusion makes the Eastern Conference a far better conference.

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