Derrick Rose led the Timberwolves to a win today posting 25 points on 11-17 from the floor and 2-2 from three. Before today, he was averaging 19 ppg 4.7 apg 3.8 rpg on 47/45.9/84.8 shooting splits. He has been a blessing for Minnesota after the entire Jimmy Butler debacle to start the season. He’s looked as athletic as we’ve seen him in quite some time and a new found ability to knock down threes at an efficient clip has helped in making him one of the best stories to start this season. Highlighted thus far, by his 50 spot he hung on the Jazz on Halloween, en route to a 3-point victory. So the question basically is: Is D-Rose actually good again? My answer, barring injury, is yes. Rose has reinvented himself and there’s no reason to expect that it won’t continue. To remind you how good Rose was, here are highlights from his MVP campaign in the 2010-11 season.
Thibs has given Rose free reign and control of the ball on offense and it’s been paying dividends early. He leads the team in offensive rating (111.4) as he has been incredibly aggressive and every game we see flashes of his former MVP self. Look at these highlights from today’s win in Brooklyn. He looks explosive, flexible, and his shot making looks as good as it’s looked in his entire career.
He’s first in usage rate as well at 24.9% which is what I believe has been the most prominent factor in his revival. He’s a volume scorer, needs the ball in his hands, and he needs it a lot. That’s how he was when he was on top of the NBA and credit to Thibs for giving him this sort of leeway. It also helps that he’s coming off of the bench, so his style of play doesn’t hinder what the starters can do. Ever since his injury the thought was that Rose had to reinvent himself completely and that his prior style of play wasn’t feasible anymore granted his health. With a few improvements (specifically shooting) he’s proved he can mold his style to today’s NBA.
Another factor, which I mentioned earlier, is his three point stroke this year. He’s shooting 45.9% from downtown while he is a career 30.4% shooter and has never been higher than 34% in a season. While it doesn’t look as if he’s changed anything with his jump-shot (it’s still flat and looks more like a slingshot than a jump-shot) he’s been knocking them down. It’s opened up the lane for him, and given him the opportunity to drive since defenders have to close out on him. Since he isn’t the athletic freak he used to be, he had to find a way to make space for himself, and an improved three-point shot has done just that. It’s given him the ability to play the same style as he has played his whole career. This is something to monitor as the season goes on. If he can keep that stroke around 40% then the Timberwolves should worship the ground this man stands on. Their point guard depth is thin as Jeff Teague starts and Tyus Jones logs around 18 minutes off the bench. While Teague is a prototypical PG, the ability of Rose to handle it gives them a starter caliber point guard off of their bench. This helps, not only with depth, but nights where one doesn’t have it going, they can go with other.
For years, his syle of play didn’t work post-injuries. Rose and Jimmy Butler had a fallout, which led Rose to the Knicks and Cavaliers, before being bought out by the Jazz, (after being traded from Cleveland) and landing in Minnesota last year. This year, Thibs has let Rose go and he deserves credit for that. He’s been labeled as a has-been and damaged goods the past few years and it seemed like he was on his way out of the league. Through 17 games played he looks like the exact opposite. He looks like an asset to the Timberwolves and should prove to be an important piece as they move into the post-Jimmy Butler era.
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