So far this year, I've seen something that I never expected. Derrick Rose's teflon armor already beginning to wear off. I figured after a rookie of the year campaign the guy would get a bigger break with the die hard fans than he has. Clearly, this isn't everyone, but far more people than I thought are starting to consider what we really have in Derrick Rose.
In fact, it's gotten to the point where I think the pendulum may have swung too far in the other direction. Some outstanding performances by Brandon Jennings have put a huge amount of pressure on the Derrick Rose bandwagon.
Instead of talking about Rose's performance in terms of good, great, or elite, instead of talking about him as our franchise player in one breath and him underachieving in the next, I think it's time to sit down and figure out what are our realistic expectations with Rose, so that we can really discuss whether he's meeting them or not.
So here were my expectations for this season:
Improvement in his defense to become at least an average defender.
Improvement in his rate at drawing fouls at the rim by driving to create rather than avoid contact.
Incremental improvement in his jumpshot range and accuracy.
A change in attitude to be less passive
Improvement in his feel for running a team and creation of looks for others
Most people know I hate using per game stats as statistical markers. I care more about per minute stats and overall efficiency markers. So to put things down in terms of metrics I care to use, I'd say I expected this:
TS% > =53% (a significant rise in how efficiently he scores)
AST% >= 33% (I don't think he'll ever be one of those elite 50% type guys, so just some improvement)
PER >= 18 (an incremental step forward to where I hope to see him above 20 eventually)
USG% > 25 (a step up in how active he is)
Thus far, my hopes of incremental improvement in these metrics have met with slight regression across the board. There are a myriad of reasons why, and instead of trying to find a root cause, I'm going to go with the "it's a little bit of everything" theory.
- The ankle is bothering him.
- Our shooters aren't knocking down threes so spacing is poor which closes driving lanes.
- Defenses now game plan specifically to stop him as their primary priority so he sees more intense coverage
- He's simply going through a slump
I'm not going to go with the "he's not as good as we thought" argument. Derrick Rose didn't have the best year of his career as a rookie last season. He is as good as we thought [or at least as good as the people who didn't get carried away thought]. He is going to play better than he's played so far.
Long term, my expectations are largely incremental improvements in the things stated above. I hope to see Derrick as a 55% TS% scorer, 35% AST Rate, PER > 20 player.
So set your own personal bar below, bookmark this thread, and then we can come back in a month. two months, end of the season, etc and decide whether Derrick is really living up to expectations or not. 9 games is too small a sample to get worked up about. I think my expectations are reasonable, and I think he can still hit them.