If Derrick Rose is on a basketball court, the odds are that he is making a play to help his team win the game. The consummate team player, Rose is just as skilled handling the rock and finding the open man as he is driving to the lane to show off acrobatic moves to ensure the ball finds the center of the rim. Rose is the Association’s version of Slam Poetry, swift and violent, graceful but satiated with carnage. When Rose runs the court, he plays with a form of controlled chaos that bewilders opponents and fans, meanwhile Rose is searching and analyzing his teammates positions to determine whether to drive and dish or take control of the scoring responsibilities. Rose forever solidifies the distinction between basketball IQ and conventional intellect.
Growing up in Chicago, Rose matured while rooting and watching for the Jordan-led Bulls. Idolizing the way Jordan played, as many children born under the Jordan Era, Rose would develop and tailor his game to the way Jordan played the game. Growing up, Rose would be forced to compete with fellow future pro guard Eric Gordon. Gordon, a native of Indiana, would play on some of the same teams as Rose during their high school years, and nearly the same team in college. Rose’s hometown team, Illinois, attempted to stage a recruiting coup, nabbing both Rose and Gordon to form one of the most competent backcourts in college hoops history.
Unfortunately for Illini fans, neither player would attend the University. Gordon would stick with the home team Indiana Hoosiers, while Rose would spurn his home team and instead head down to Memphis to run John Callipari’s offense. Rose would be a perfect fit operating the high-wire act down in the heart of Tennessee. The Tigers were a fun team to watch, loaded with young athletes and a coach with a plan; they would fight for the top ranking in the nation. Rose’s prolific performances on the court would earn him consideration for national player of the year along with UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough, familiar foe Eric Gordon, and fellow freshman phenom Michael Beasley down in Kansas State.
Continually growing and meshing as a team throughout the season, the Memphis Tigers earned the overall #1 seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Struggling with opponents and national doubts, the Tigers would steadily blowout their foes with relative ease. Rose would lead Memphis to the title game where the Tigers would face the Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas, finally realizing their potential, battled Memphis throughout the game, struggling for the right to be called the greatest in the country. A last second shot by a Jayhawk player would essentially seal the fate of the game. The Tigers would lose the game and would lose key players to the upcoming NBA draft.
Rose was the most significant loss dealt to the Memphis squad. Entering the NBA draft after his freshman season, Rose was immediately considered a top 5 pick. When the Bulls landed the 1st pick in the draft, speculation ensued that Chicago would pick the hometown kid who grew up rooting for the Bulls during the dynasty years. However, many scouts had doubts that he would be the better pick with Michael Beasley also available. A nationwide debate ensued, like that of a year earlier between Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. Beasley was thought to be a tremendous offensive talent who could play either the 3 or 4 position on the court. Rose was the very talented point guard who had a suspect jump shot.
The Miami Heat, after a terrible season where Dwyane Wade struggled to stay uninjured, held the second pick and were eager to snatch whoever fell into their lap. Draft day came and without much further ado Chicago made Derrick Rose the first pick of the 2008 NBA draft. Rose joined a team that was coming off a horribly disappointing season after previously drafting Joakim Noah. Still chockablock full of young talent, the Bulls were loaded with talent and were hoping that Rose could steady the ship and lead the Bulls back to the playoffs.
At 6’3” and 190 lbs., Rose was already equipped with the proper body to survive in the Association. Derrick is like a miniature version of LeBron James. He drives to the basket with a focused fury and has inexplicable court vision to find the open man. Rose was virtually guaranteed to win the starting point guard position for rookie head coach Vinny Del Negro. He would be teamed up with former Duke Blue Devil Luol Deng, infamous ball-chucker Ben Gordon, the aforementioned Joakim Noah, fellow guard Kirk Heinrich, and potential latent Tyrus Thomas. The Bulls were hoping that they were building a dynasty that would secure many playoffs victories in the seasons to come.
Wherever Rose has played basketball, his team has always been victorious. Whether in high school, college, or now in the NBA, Rose has willed his team to victory and success. He would begin his professional career out strong, averaging 18.9 PPG in 15 contests in November. His scoring acumen throughout his rookie season would be on display as Derrick averaged 16.8 PPG in 81 contests. With the help of Rose’s scoring the Bulls would steadily improve and become a more cohesive unit.
As the season progressed Rose would become more comfortable with the offensive system and adjust to the style of play in the NBA. His turnovers would drop from nearly 3 every game to hovering just above 2 in each contest. His assists would pick up from 5 per game to 7.5 at the end of the season. A very competent rebounder given his stunted stature, Rose averaged nearly 4 rebounds throughout the entire season. His defensive mindset would also develop as the season advanced, taking less plays off on the defensive end and boosting his steal average at the end of the season to nearly one a game after being well beneath one for the majority of the season.
His excellent play vaulted him into the stratum of stellar young point guards headed by Chris Paul and Deron Williams. He would be considered to be on the rise with other young studs like Devin Harris and Rajon Rondo. His play in the regular season would earn Rose the Rookie of the Year honors, beating out familiar foe Eric Gordon, late bloomer Greg Oden, and Michael Beasley. He would also lead the Bulls into the playoffs as the #7 seed. Rose was the first rookie to be the first pick and lead his team to the playoffs in the same year.
The Bulls would have to battle the defending champion Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. During the regular season, Rose had his problems against Boston, averaging only 14.3 PPG and 4.7 APG. The Celtics young point guard Rajon Rondo countered his raw athleticism. Having to up his defense against Rondo, Rose had to pull double duty. The playoffs would be a launching point for Rose and his until-then unearthed talents. The Bulls were very much the underdog and somewhat of an afterthought for the injured Celtics.
The Celtics were forced to bear the brunt of a team finally finding cohesion and hitting their stride. The series was jam-packed with back and forth clutch shots, buzzer beating shots, trash talk, defensive stops, and lead changes. One of the greatest playoffs series of recent years, Rose was a critical cog to the machine for the Bulls’ success against Boston. Forced to guard either Rondo who had become a man possessed, or Ray Allen who dropped over 50 in one game in the series, Rose was immediately put to the test. On the other end, offense appeared to come easy for the talented Bulls. Ben Gordon was trading knock out worthy punches with Ray Allen, trading last minute 3-pointers and running jump shots. Rose would carry some of the weight, displaying a better than previously believed jumper with good range. The Celtics were unable to stop Rose’s penetration into the teeth of their defense, only able to breathe easy when he needed to take a seat on the bench or if he fouled out of the game.
Unfortunately for Rose and Chicago, the Celtics, who went on to be eliminated by the Orlando Magic, eliminated the Bulls. However, the lessons learned from that experience would not likely be lost on Derrick and his teammates. The offseason has brought significant change to the Bulls’ roster, with leading scorer Ben Gordon leaving in free agency to go to the rival Detroit Pistons. Gordon’s departure has many yet unknown effects on Derrick Rose’s future. The proverbial sky is indeed the limit for this superb young talent, but with Gordon’s early exit, more responsibility is being thrust onto the shoulders of the young point guard. He will be asked to expand his game and carry more of the scoring load and be more proficient in the assist category, as well as bolster his individual defense. With Rose’s continual improvement, the Bulls are a legitimate playoff contender and will be so for many years to come.