You're sucked in. Admit it.
Last night, Derrick 'The Drug' Rose poured in 29 points on 12 of 25 shooting to lead the Bulls to a 104-98 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. One of the Western Conference's pre-season contenders couldn't keep up with the fleet-footed Rose, who looked like his 2010 self while slashing around the court.
Tales of Derrick's resounding performance are already leading die-hard Bulls fans to visions of a prolonged playoff run.
If it were only that easy.
Yes, the success of the 2015-2016 Chicago Bulls' sits in the lap of Derrick Rose's health.
The second factor isn't his health, but how he handles his role as point guard for the team. Derrick will need to understand that his role on the 2015-2016 squad will be that of facilitator, not scorer. Gone are the days of 25 points per game, and shutting games down single-handedly. Rose has a team now. This isn't the 2011 squad that he could take on his back for 80 plus games. The players are here for Derrick to return to his role as a pure point guard, and not to chuck up 25 shots a night.
The stats since Derrick's first return in 2013 are staggering. If you combine his 67 games started since then, Derrick has shot 39.4% from the field, and an anemic 28% from behind the 3-point arc. Derrick spent most of his time on the IR 'working on his shot'. It hasn't seemed to work.
In fact, it's gotten worse.
Prior to his first big injury, Rose shot 46% from the field and shot 31% from behind the arc. How could somebody seemingly lose their shooting percentage after spending three years purely focusing on it? Obviously, getting used to how your body feels post-injury has a lot to do with it. But still, the shot hasn't returned.
Knowing these facts, the last thing you want as a fan is Derrick chucking up shots at a record pace. Derrick's success in 2016 will come from how he distributes. After sitting out the 12-13 season, after a renewed focus on his 'shot', Rose's distribution game took a hit. When are the only two seasons that Rose has fallen behind a 2 to 1 assist to turnover ratio? You guessed it...each of the past two seasons...post injury.
Rose will need to know who is around him. Paul Gasol averaged 18.5 ppg last year. Jimmy Butler is an all-star scorer who can a lead a team at certain times. Nikola Mirotic turned into a star during the second-half of last season's campaign. Mirotic went from a 7.1 ppg player in the first half to 16 ppg in the second half. Not that plus/minus statistics have the same value as they do in hockey, but Mirotic jumped from +3.5 to +7.1 in the second half. With McDermott in the wings as a shooter, and Mike Dunleavy's imminent return, Rose will need to understand that he is no longer the 'end-all/be-all' of the Bulls' championship aspirations.
And it's more than just the teammates and the stats...Rose has a personal issue to deal with, as well. He's going to need to ask himself 'What type of player am I?' Every player has to adapt at some point of their career to focus on winning a championship. Sometimes, it means a lesser role. Other times, it mean re-developing other aspects of your game (see: Michael Jordan improving his post-repertoire post '95).
What defines the greatest players in NBA History isn't how brightly their stars shined, but how well they adapted to Father Time. What will Rose do to adapt his current play to make sure it lasts longer? That's a decision for him to make.
In the meantime, I will err on caution. Hopefully, Derrick sees his new role and helps this team develop into a championship contender.
However, I refuse to get sucked in by last night...for now.
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