Derrick Rose returns but probably shouldn't have

Derrick Rose returns but probably shouldn't have

Look, I don't think Rose needs to be absolutely 100% in order to play. As the season progresses, there will be fewer and fewer times when a player is 100%. You accumulate nagging injuries as a season wears on.

However, Derrick Rose didn't belong on the court last night. He was maybe 70%. He looked gimpy, never pushed the ball, appeared to aggravate the injury at one point, and generally was less effective than if he'd been sitting out.

Derrick needs to play enough games to build continuity with this team. He needs to play enough to prepare himself mentally and physically for the playoffs. Maybe at some point in March, we're looking at Rose and wondering if he's played enough to do that.

However, we're in November. It's game five of the regular season. Fans and writers may have been questioning whether Rose was sitting out unnecessarily, but the Bulls training staff and Derick Rose should know the answer to that and stick with it regardless of the public voice.

Whether Rose simply needs to be back on the court after sitting for two years for himself or whether he felt he needed to quiet the doubters, Derrick decided to give it a go.

There was no explosion. No push of the ball. No one man fast break. Half of his shots were threes. He didn't penetrate the lane a whole lot. He looked like FIBA world cup Rose.

Prior to the ankle injury, Rose looked like a bad ass. He looked fully healthy for the first time since injuring the ACL. He looked like MVP Derrick Rose. The Bulls need that guy back and playing on bum ankles isn't going to get him back faster.

They have the depth to keep going without him and need to be a lot smarter about what's going on.

Thibs shortens rotation

The Bulls bench struggled mightily in the game. Aaron Brooks was just 1-5 from the field. Nikola Mirotic was 1-6, and Doug McDermott failed to get a shot up. The three (along with Tony Snell's 22 seconds) combined to play about 37 minutes.

The Bulls starting five + Hinrich played the rest of the minutes. The strategy worked to get the win, but quite honestly, I'd rather see the Bulls continue to go back to some of those guys and keep them in the rotation.

What the hell is wrong with LeBron?

The Cavaliers are 1-3 on the season. Their single win coming against the Bulls in OT with Butler out and Rose out for the second half.

However, the bigger question than the record is what's the deal with LeBron. This is likely the worst four game stretch since LeBron's first or second year in the NBA.

His offensive efficiency is way down. He's shooting 41.3% from the field. Watching him defensively, you see other guys like Gordon Hayward doing an acceptable job staying in front of him in isolation.

He's averaging nearly one turnover per assist (4.8 to 4.5). In short, his assists, rebounds, points, and efficiency are all well down from what he was doing last season.

Is it a lack of cohesion with his knew team? Sure. However, something seems up with LeBron beyond that. He dropped all of this weight, and guys no longer seem scared of him rumbling through the paint anymore.

A 270 lb guy with his athleticism was a freight train that could go through anything. LeBron looks like he's now working so much harder for his shots. He doesn't seem like he gets all those easy looks.

He doesn't look like he demands double/triple teams as much. He looks like a guy who made a real bad decision to drop 25-30lbs of muscle. He doesn't appear to have gained a whole lot of quickness, and looks far less dangerous.

In 2010, LeBron started off slowly, as did the Heat, when he deferred too much to Wade/Bosh trying to make sure everyone got involved. It might be the same deal with the Cavs now, but in those early games with the Heat LeBron was racking up assists like crazy even if he limited his shot attempts.

That's not the case with these Cavs. LeBron just looks less dangerous, less involved, and the Cavs look like they have a long way to go to be a true contender.

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  • I can't wait until the fans of Cleveland start to turn against LeBron. It would come full circle if LeBron can't win for Cleveland... And possibly leaves again in 2 hrs. not sure he would do that, but he is on a 2 yr deal and this team sucks.

    Too many shooters and scorers. Waiters continuing to jack up shots... Irving with 34 pts and zero assists? The entire team with 6 assists or something? How does that happen?!

  • In reply to Granby:

    I can't imagine Cleveland turning on LeBron at this point. Nor could I see LeBron leaving in two years. There aren't going to be many teams with max contract room who also have a shot at winning.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    First off, I'm positive that he didn't drop 25-30 lbs of pure muscle(I'd say he lost 10-15lbs total max), It is pretty much impossible to gain or lose that much in less than a year unless heavy use of steroids is involved. Which is probably way more prevalent in the NBA than people think, anybody notice Zaza's horrible backne last night, that guy has to be on something.

    I think that Lebron is going out of his way to fit in with his new teammates and being far too passive, except of course against the Bulls when he put up 30 shots. That said, he has been losing his physical advantage for several years maybe because he is a bigger guy it will hit him much faster than it did Jordan or Kobe. I'm sure by the end of the season his numbers will be back up to par.

  • Dan Gilbert should start drafting up his next letter. Lebron shooting 41%, Kyrie - 40% and Love 36%. If Lebron leaves then Love also leaves, plus you gave away two number 1 draft picks. Ouch. Too early but they currently don't look like a threat to any playoff team.

  • For someone who's garnered the reputation of improving his teammates, Wade and Bosh are certainly doing fine without him. The whole Heat offense looks much better this year.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    Luol Deng isn't doing much and McBob isn't playing yet, so Bosh and Wade are just getting the extra shots that would have gone to Lebron, seems like a pretty natural outcome.

  • Personally, I don't hate LeBron this time around, but I appear to be in the minority. Also, Cleveland never wins anything so I'd actually like to see them win one with him. Regardless, he's not leaving Cleveland again, and unless he does, Cleveland will love him, win or lose. He also wouldn't leave because they aren't struggling because LeBron's teammates aren't good enough. They're struggling because of LeBron.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I agree with you about not hating on Lebron this time around, I think it was good for the game. I wish that Cleveland hadn't gotten so lucky in the draft that they had the picks/talent to trade for Love.

    However, unlike you, I can't say that I want him to win a title in Cleveland since that means he is denying the Bulls. I guess I won't really know until they get to the finals and I see which way I end up rooting.

  • Look. When you go on a low-carb diet, you don't lose muscle mass, you lose fat. I know this because I've done it. Although not the specimen LeBron is/was, I was lean before and after my low-carb diet, and still managed to drop 15 lbs. After losing the weight, I was flying around the basketball court. LeBron has looked slow and, well, downright human out there.

    My opinion? He stopped using PEDs.

  • In reply to jumpmanjay:

    Regardless of how he lost the weight, it's very clear that LeBron lost a lot of good weight as well. He looks physically less mucular than he used to.

    And yes, I almost went with the steroid angle.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    As I mentioned above, I have no doubt that steroids are very prevalent in the NBA, and Lebron certainly looked like a guy who could have used them. I'm surprised how sanguine everybody is about the issue in the NBA given the uproar it causes in baseball, and to a lesser extent in football.

  • In reply to jumpmanjay:

    No you didn't! (Yes, you did!)

    LeBron was totally on some kind of PEDs. He may be still, who knows. I suspect Jordan could have been on PEDs back in the 90's when he bulked up - nobody can say for sure. Tiger probably was, too, for much of his career.

    He could have been on a low-carb diet and lifting less.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Tiger for sure, likely why his body has betrayed him.

  • I'm a Heat fan, so I don't have a dog in this race anymore. However, I think you're all overreacting. After all, it's only been 4 games. Lebron will be fine, and that Cavs team will be lethal by the end of the year.

  • In reply to RichG:

    I think there's a very good chance this is true. I originally thought this Cavs team might be better than his Heat teams though, and I'm not sure that is true.

    LeBron definitely looks like he is somewhat deminished. This was true to an extent last season, but looks even more so this season. I still think he's the best in the game when all is said and done, but the gap between him and the other guys is no longer a big gap.

    The rest of the team has no defensive identity, and I'm not sure they'll find one.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Miami started out 9-8 that first season, so it is way too early to say anything definitive about the Cavs.

  • In reply to RichG:

    I think Spoelstra will get his due if Blatt fails and this entire Cleveland experiment fails. You can't argue with the incredible efficiency LeBron suddenly achieved in Miami. After year 1, there were hardly any 3-point shots by Wade or James. James started playing the post more. There was a lot of discipline to that offense after the first year of flailing around.

  • Lebron did loss muscle if he is down 25-30 lbs!
    Without much doubt he was on PEDS before whether being real steroids taking orally or injected and/or pro hormones which your body converts to steroids after it's initial pass thru your liver. These pro hormones are used by "natural body builders" and can be bought over the counter without a prescription. Every so often the FDA bans a certain compound and the chemistist usually find a way around it somewhat even if a slightly weaker version of the now banned compound.
    If the NBA and/or WWE (pro wrestling) came down hard ton PED use there would be huge costs and tons of $ lost and the product that we see for entertainment would be much harder to watch and cheer on and pay $ to see!

    I agree with you Doug, Rose should have not played today and probably would be good for when we play the Raptors next Thursday the 13th in Toronto where we could use Rose against that team that is on the rise (post Bosh).

  • I didn't get a chance to watch last night's game, but Derrick shooting 40% on volume threes is always a good thing. Maybe he should have stayed out longer, but I've also seen guys play through ankle injuries. If he doesn't start looking better though speed wise etc., then I agree he needs to sit until they do get better. We don't want instability tempting fate with those knees.

    As for playing time, I just don't know if Thibs is ever going to get it when it comes to short term tightening of rotations just to win "that game" rather then seeing team development and the bigger picture. There's just no way a guy with crazy numbers like Brooks has should only get 16 minutes. If he's 1-5, in the timeout tell him let's run some plays meaning drive for assists or sure thing layins at the basket aka hold off on the jump shots to gain some energy through success on the court.

    I see Klank got 28 minutes and shot 33% from three, his only shots, and had more fouls, three, then assists, two, to go along with zero rebounds. Nice. Meanwhile you have McD with only 6 minutes, and Jimmy Butler is back to the 40 minute club along with Taj at 43.

    I sure would have liked better balance in team minutes, but certainly as well as Brooks has been playing, and helping his team tremendously, I just don't think it makes sense or sets the right tone to shut him down for missing a few jumpers. 16 minutes with the dynamic way he's been performing? Thibs you must get over your trust issues and shortsightedness. It certainly hurts growing team chemistry and energy for the playoffs.

  • The bench won a number of games (including pre-season) with strong +/- scores, but not last night. Of course, Taj is usually part of the bench, so him starting in place of Noah obviously weakens the bench.

    So, Bulls were missing a starter, Rose was hurt, and Brooks, M and M all took the night off. We will take the win under those conditions. Taj and Gasol each scored over 20 and got the double double, so that was nice.

    Hopefully, it wil be rare for Brooks, M and M to all have a lousy game at the same time!

  • Side note: If LeBron has dropped 25 lbs. or so, and it's true he was using/had to get off PED's for some reason, that could be a big deal. Time will tell. Also, his new head coach Blatt is an unproven commodity. How he manages personalities like younger generation players like Irving, Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and even Love and LeBron is a real challenge as in question mark IMO. Taking three core guys with no playoff experience and expecting a run to the Finals? I guess anything's possible in the shabby (L)East. Hopefully Bulls will develop a true team to take them down. As in not shut down Brooks and McD to win the battle, but lose the war.

  • Somebody and also Doug commented about how the bench/certain guys "struggled" or were "lousy." When you post the crazy numbers Aaron Brooks has, and you only play 16 minutes, but get judged as having a poor showing I think that's a somewhat inaccurate and unfair judgement. McD with six joke minutes. Seriously Thibs are you flippin' kidding me?

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I agree, I noted they were lousy, but also said I was disappointed about their playing time and not getting more chances.

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    The Milwaukee Bucks are pretty good. I can now see why Jason Kidd left Brooklyn to coach this team. They are long, quick, and can shoot the three ball. Thibs is taking advantage of matchups, and in certain nights against certain teams he cannot play a deep rotation.

    Maybe Rose should have passed on this game, and sat it out, but he can sit out the next game in Philly. Rookie Doug McDermott wasn't a good matchup w/ the Greek Freak, and Tony Snell... well he's got a ways to go.

    Good win against a team they should beat at this time in their careers.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    I agree about the Bucks athletic talent, they have a lot of length and althletes(Greek Freak, Sanders, Henson, Middleton), way more than the Bulls. they made us look old and slow. I thought that Neal and Stacey were nuts in the 4rth when they were acting like Taj had some mouse in the house advantage against the Freak, who is way more athletic than Taj as well as being taller and longer. Taj did nothing against him except force the issue. The only advantage that Taj had is experience, which didn't seem to matter much.

  • So besides the Derrick side show and the Lebron obsession, the Bulls actually did some really nice things to get a win last night. Pau and Taj were dominant, and I cannot understand why some here complain about Pau. What more do you want? Guy is soooo much better at basketball than Boozer and is making half of what Carlos would have earned (haha) this year. He's a legit 7 footer, and the Bulls can just dump the ball in to the post for him or Taj when they need a hoop. His skills are perfect for this team.

    Jimmy was a little sluggish scoring, but played a hell of a game and filled the stat sheet. Couple nice open court steals, and hit a really nice and ultra-athletic up and under for a and-1 later in the game.

    Also, game got a little physical, and nobody on the Bulls backed down. Even Niko talked a little trash to Zaza after Zaza swatted the ball out of his hand after a dead ball. Yeah, I agree I don't want guys playing over 40 consistently, but this was a good solid win against a Bucks team with no identity but a ton of length and talent.

  • In reply to JC 2012:

    You hit it right on the head, no matter how bad/sloppy Gasol can look at times, he is simply way better at playing basketball than boozer could ever hope to be, and he makes half as much to boot.

  • Rose looked apprehensive. Like a guy who played, but decided early he shouldn't have.

    To his credit, he played hard the last few minutes when the game was still in doubt. Made a good drive to the hoop. I liked that. Maybe he is just being smart.

    I thought the Bucks played a lot of guys, still seeing what they got before settling on their regular rotations. Gonna be interesting for those 7th and 8th seeds.

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Exactly, Rose looked like he really didn't want to play. He looked like the spirit of Tony Snell had invaded his body for the night. If he was going to play like that then he shouldn't have played.

    It was also kind of frightening that on the only athletic play that he made all night, I forget now if it was a steal in the air in the lane or a rebound he basically reinjured his ankles after he landed.

  • Go back and watch the tape and you will see 6 times McDermott was open for a shot and nobody passed to him.

    Get Mirotic into the weight room and he will be an all-star.

    As for D Rose, sit out every game. A. Brooks can handle this team.

  • Actually trade D Rose now for anything.

  • In reply to Sluggers:

    Agree. If Rose is worth $18 mil+, why not give Butler $10-14 mil? Butler is a nice 2-way player, although not a legit 3 pt shooter, he does attack the lane and gets to the line. He in a dominant game-changing wing defender. He is tough, a real team-first player.

    So, let's not over-rate Rose when Thibs can get any old PG to come in here and have a career year...

  • Don't look now, but Sacramento doesn't stink anymore.
    Bulls could possibly get Sac's pick this season AND swap their own 1st rounder with Cleveland. LONG WAY to go of course... Just sayin, the Deng trade will pan out, this year or soon after.

  • In reply to Edward:

    It's early but I noticed that too, was debating whether to comment on it yet. As I said when we got the pick, the odds are very strong(almost certain) that they cannot remain one of the worst 10 teams for 3 more years. It is our best future asset, and we definitely shouldn't give it away in trade as many people were proposing this past offseason. Hopefully when they take that jump it isn't too big like Charlotte last season. Here's hoping for 11.

    The Cleveland swap looks to have little value as the Bulls and Cavs will be close in the overall league standings.

  • Hopefully, the Bulls will have the 30th pick next draft - which they can then swap with Cleveland!

    Or, Denver could get the 30th pick from the Bulls in a trade that brings Afflalo and the title to Chicago.

    While I am dreaming, how about Snell turns into Afflalo the second half of the season! Then the Bulls draft a future Allstar with the 30th pick.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    How about we trade Snell to Philly for that guy I've been after for over 2 years(since the Marquis Teague draft) now Tony Wroten, who went for 27 & 8 last night and is averaging 21 & 7(PER over 21) so far starting in place of MCW. Unfortunately, that ship likely sailed last summer when Wroten was available for nothing after not getting any time in Memphis.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Philly might just trade him for Snell and picks, they seem to collect picks like Boozer collected negative blog posts.

    However, would you rather have Wroten or Afflalo for the playoffs? Or a different SG?

  • In reply to rustyw:

    It just seems to me that Denver would not have reacquired Afflalo if they were going to turn around and trade him away again before the allstar break. I see Wroten as a guy that the Bulls could keep long term to take over the Hangdog role on the team. A point guard, who can play the 2 defensively next to Rose. He is taller, longer much younger and way more athletic than Hangdog, but like Hangdog can't really shoot yet.

    I would certainly trade Snell for him straight up, the 20th pick for the 25th pick in their respective drafts.

  • I guess we are still going to ignore the elephant in the room(certainly not the mouse in the house) that we got killed on the boards again last night 18-7 in offensive rebounds. Both Taj and Gasol got double doubles again proving how misleading that stat can be. Taj was dogging it on the defensive boards any number of times last night, like the start of the second half when Gasol grabbed a board and 3 Bucks mugged him shaking the ball lose, Gibson was standing flat footed 6 feet away and never made a move toward the basket, Larry Sanders picked up the ball after Gasol lost it and dunked. On another possession Henson got 3 rebounds(tipbacks) on one possession giving the Bucks 4 shot attempts, of which they finally made one.

    In general the Bulls were not active pursuing the boards, they were constantly standing around flat footed watching the ball hit the floor, waiting for rebounds to come to them rather than moving their feet and going after the ball. Maybe we are just starting to play like an older team, so far in every game besides the Knicks the other team has looked way quicker to all the loose balls.

  • Finally, did anyone see that the Cav's only had 6 assists total in their loss last night, with Irving contributing none of them. Both of those stats are hard to believe, 6 total team assists seems like it would be some sort of record, at least in the shot clock era.

  • I think LeBron is physically fine. I just think he's annoyed with the environment like he was five years ago when he left the Cavs in the first place. When the Bulls played the Cavs and Irving was in foul trouble, LeBron looked like he could do whatever the heck he wanted.

    Btw, this is my first comment Doug after listening to your podcasts for years. Keep up the great work!

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