Derrick Rose and FIBA: 3 questions.

Ever since Derrick Rose burst onto the national consciousness as an ultra athletic lead guard for the Memphis Tigers he has been an oddly derisive figure.

As a potential number one overall pick there were those who thought the Bulls should draft the more “NBA ready” Michael Beasley.

As the rookie of the year who tied a playoff record set by Kareem Abdul Jabbar he was criticized as  being a score first point guard who couldn’t defend.

As the youngest ever league MVP  even otherwise smart people thought he was only the 3rd best player at his position.

So when Rose was both invited to the Team USA camp and selected as a member of the final 12 man roster after not playing at a high level since 2012 it sparked some debate.

His often times underwhelming play(he shot 25% from the field in the tournament) certainly didn’t do anything to lessen this.

In much the same way as his knee injuries generated questions I attempted to answer, so did his FIBA play.

I will address the 3 most common questions.

1.) Should Derrick Rose have made the team?
This question makes you wonder how much coaches can really project from watching practice. Some people have said it was favoritism that landed Derrick Rose a spot on the 12 man roster.

I have a far less nefarious theory. In practices he likely showed that he could run the team, defend, and play with athleticism the other guards didn’t have. He certainly showed he could do all these things over the course of the tournament.

Had the coaches known he would shoot 25% from the field there is a good chance he wouldn’t have made the team, but there is no real way of projecting FG% from practices.

John Wall could have given them many of the same things Rose did without the built in handicap of having the shake off rust, but chances are he didn’t impress in practice as much as Rose did. Damian Lillard was the other point guard sent home, he however would duplicate many of the same skills Kyrie Irving possesses. So in short, without the benefit of hindsight, yes he should have made the team.

2.) Was Derrick Rose’s less than stellar  performance a  harbinger for the season?

Absolutely not.  Going into World Cup play everyone was primarily concerned (overly so in my opinion) with how Rose would look physically and by the Finland game he put those concern to rest for 99% of the basketball watching community.

It wasn’t always vintage MVP Rose-type plays, but he displayed his trademark quickness enough to let everybody know it was still there and ready to use at a moment’s notice.

His struggles in this limited sample mirrored what they were in last year’s 10 game sample; he couldn’t hit shots. This shouldn’t be a major cause for concern as it is perfectly normal for players coming back from a long layoff to struggle with their shot.

A study done by Kevin Pelton on players recovering from ACL injuries back this up. Below is an excerpt from the article in which this study is cited:

“The numbers show that players coming back from ACL injuries are at their worst in their first handful of games on the court before quickly improving back to near normal. This shows up most dramatically in terms of shooting percentage, which was Rose’s biggest issue. During his first four seasons, Rose made 48.9 percent of his 2-point attempts. In the 10 games he played last season, he shot just 35.9 percent on 2s.”-Kevin Pelton

What’s important to remember and what some forget is that we only have a tiny sample size by which to judge Rose these past few seasons.

If you combine his World Cup tourney games and his NBA regular season games last year, he still has played less than a quarter of an 82 game season.

Even in the 10 games last year the rust that had eroded his skill set was shedding pretty rapidly immediately before the injury.

If you are betting against Derrick Rose at this point you are doing so one or more of 3 reasons.

  1.  You are the 1% of the basketball community who didn’t think he looked “right” during the tourney.
  2.  You are in the business of predicting injuries for perfectly healthy basketball players.
  3. You think Derrick Rose has permanently lost the ability to hit shots.

 3. Okay but it has to be pretty concerning that he was outplayed by Kyrie Irving right?

Not really. Kyrie Irving was the MVP of the tournament and he showed the skill set that led to the most impressive rookie season by a point guard since Chris Paul’s.

He is an exceptional shot maker and ball handler.  During World Cup play he shot 30 percentage points higher from the field than Rose. He generally scored with ease that was enviable and worrying to me as a Bulls fan.

However, Irving is a player with sizable warts as well and these were also on display. Namely his weak defense  and ball stopping play on offense.

Against Serbia these weaknesses don’t really matter in the context of the game. He has Anthony Davis behind him and Team USA has so much talent that they will overcome lapses and less than cohesive play.

But they are still what has stopped him from emerging as truly elite player.

Meanwhile Derrick Rose, when he wasn’t missing 75% of his shots,  was initiating the offense and making clever passes in half court sets. It was really encouraging to see him leverage his athleticism into passes for corner 3′s and drop off passes for big men.

On defense he played dogged ball pressure defense on opposing guards and when they ran him through screens he skillfully fought his way through them.

His willingness and skill as a passer (long unappreciated) makes him a more dynamic offensive threat than Irving, and when you combine that with his typically stellar defense I feel confident in saying (once these shots start falling that is) we will see that Rose is a cut above Irving as a player.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in Rose’s overall play. Once the reports from camp came in, I expected him to grab the starting job with ease and definitely expected him to shoot above 25% from the field.

Given this performance critics were correct to question his place on the team, but are incorrect to write him off based on this.

From a big picture perspective he looked healthy and he stayed healthy. That is really all that matters. The rest, with time, will take care of itself.

Stats courtesy of www.fiba.com

 

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