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Derrick Rose is good, but still a ways from great

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Mike Nadel

Storyteller, wise guy, observer, analyst, husband, dad. One-stop shopping, baby!

The Bald Truth

I'm glad Derrick Rose is hurting.

Not because I'm a sadist or because I hate the Bulls or because I believe no other Chicago baller should ever again don the No. 1 jersey so proudly worn by Randy Livingston.

No, I'm glad Rose's ankle is bothering him because that explains a lot.

Were he healthy, the Bulls would have some serious concerns.

It was telling that early in Thursday's game against the Lakers, TNT announcers Marv Albert and Doug Collins made a point of saying the Bulls would be off to their best start in 13 years if they were to win and improve to 7-4.

More telling: Even after losing decisively, the Bulls, at 6-5, have equaled their best 11-game start since Michael bolted and took all Chicago basketball dignity with him.

When 6-5 or 7-4 is the standard of excellence, well, let's just say the Bulls need Rose to be every bit as good as he is perceived to be - and much better than he actually has been.

The List

The NBA's best point guards:

1. Chris Paul.

2. Steve Nash.

3. Deron Williams.

4. Chauncey Billups.

5. Rajon Rondo.

6. Devin Harris.

7. Gilbert Arenas.

8. Jason Kidd.

9. Russell Westbrook.

10. Jose Calderon.

The List II

Best young point guards:

1. Chris Paul.

2. Deron Williams.

3. Rajon Rondo.

4. Russell Westbrook.

5. Brandon Jennings.

The List III

Point guards I'd want to have the ball with the game on the line:

1. Steve Nash.

2. Chauncey Billups.

3. Deron Williams.

4. Chris Paul.

5. Gilbert Arenas.

The Balder Truth

I'm insane, right? Derrick Rose isn't better than at least half of those guys?

Well, statistically no. One could make a case for him over Calderon - though maybe not if one has more than a knee-jerk reaction and takes the time to check out the efficiency with which the Toronto guard plays. Westbrook? He and Rose are about even, right? Perhaps. Then again, Baron Davis and Jameer Nelson could claim to be as good as or better than Rose. Lists and ratings are always subjective.

Frankly, one guy isn't even on those lists but should be No. 1: LeBron James. He supposedly is a forward even though he has the ball in his hands practically every possession and he ranks sixth in assists. Still, for this argument, we'll leave him out. Ditto Dwyane Wade, who is labeled a 2, not a point.

Is gunner Arenas really a point guard? He is 10th in assists and is Washington's primary ballhandler, so I'll say yes. Should Harris be on the list? He's hurt and not playing. Again, yes, because he won't be out forever and he's a stud.

But what about Derrick? Everybody loves him!

OK, let's look at a few numbers:

Among NBA players with enough games and minutes to qualify, Rose ranks 16th in assists (5.5), 25th in assists-per-48-minutes (8.0) and 45th in assist/turnover ratio (1.97).

Among NBA guards, he is tied with teammate John Salmons for 14th in scoring (14.0) and is 33rd in field-goal percentage (.439). He hasn't made a 3-pointer.

Rose is tied for 69th in steals, and everybody who watched Rondo go past him at will in the playoffs last spring knows Derrick has a much longer way to go defensively than he does offensively.

And in a stat the NBA calls "efficiency," which brings a bundle of categories together, Rose ranks 120th, right behind Clippers great Beno Udrih.

Oh, and In "efficiency-per-48-minutes," Rose ranks 233rd!

If you think I'm being overly critical of the Bulls' savior, please read the following quote and you'll see I'm nowhere near his harshest critic.

The Quote

"There has to be something I'm doing wrong. I know the injury was something, but it's taking too long to get back. ... I'm playing terrible. I'm not going to the hole like I used to. It seems to me that I'm not that aggressive." - Derrick Rose, talking to reporters earlier this week.


THE BALDEST TRUTH


When Rose is at his best, few players are more fun to watch. More than that, the Bulls desperately need Rose at his aggressive, explosive, take-it-to-the-hole best.

They need him to get healthy. Then they need him to get better at every phase of the game so he can make his teammates better. That's what an All-Star point guard does.

Once upon a time in Bullyland, a 6-5 start was considered disappointing. For that kind of thought process to return, Derrick Rose must be the one leading the way.

And he knows that being the NBA's 233rd most efficient player won't get it done.

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