Derrick Rose’s return is key for Bulls championship run



For those who don’t follow professional basketball, the National Basketball Association and Chicago Bulls’ fans everywhere have been witnesses to one of the most controversial and captivating players: Derrick Rose. Students and staff throughout the school have debated Rose’s performance this season.

Many students feel Rose’s season has been mediocre and his conservative approach to his body won’t help the Bulls’ chances. “If he didn’t sit out the majority of the games because of small injuries, then he could see progression on the court. For now, Rose can’t stop, sit, and worry about his career after basketball because he isn’t putting together a string of good years that define a career,” junior Jake Aske said.

Many students still believe that Rose has the talent to lead the Bulls to a NBA title but his timid play has become a detriment to the team. “He needs the mindset that he had during his MVP season three years ago. If he doesn’t have that aggressive mindset like he did before, then it isn’t likely the Bulls will maximize their potential,” junior Lucas Rhamy said.

At the young age of 25 and entering his sixth season in the league, I believe Rose has the talent and physical ability to lead the Bulls to a championship; he is a former rookie of the year, three time all-star, two time gold medalist, and youngest league MVP in the history of the NBA.

The talent, skill, and athleticism is undeniable; However,the problem many fans and analysts in Chicago have with Rose is his questionable longevity and tendency to sustain injury. His play, or lack thereof, begs the question: Can Derrick Rose be a focal point in a Chicago Bulls’ championship run this season?

The answer isn’t as simple as yes or no, although I, along with many fans at Metea and in Chicago, wish it was. In the last three seasons, Rose had played 49 out of 243 games due to reconstructive surgery in both knees. This season, as of Dec. 2, Rose has missed 8 out of 17 games due to ankle and hamstring injuries.

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Over the last four seasons, lower body injuries have ravaged Rose’s body and it is clear that Rose has not returned to MVP form. In the games Rose has played, he is averaging 16.1 points, 4,6 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game, a major dropoff from his 2010-2011 MVP season in which he averaged 25 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds per game.

Although Rose’s numbers have fallen, fans at Metea, and in Chicago, see two positives about the Bulls as a team despite his absence. First, Rose has had very limited in-game experience this season and thus, he is merely experiencing the “rust” many players face after recovering from a major injury. Rose, like any other player recovering from a major injury, isn’t expected to have the same performances he had before his injury. Secondly, the Bulls are widely considered to have one of the best supporting casts in the NBA. Despite his lack of play, the Bulls remain one of the top teams in the league.

“The Bulls can still make a deep playoff run without Rose at full strength. Gasol, Noah, Gibson, Aaron Brooks, and McDermott are good players and even without Rose, the Bulls still have the talent and defense to at least make the Eastern Conference finals,” junior Lucas Rhamy said.

In the frontcourt, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Nikola Mirotic combine to average 47.6 points and 31.8 rebounds per game while also providing a formidable defensive presence unmatched by many teams. The Bulls have also relied on the emergence of Jimmy Butler, who is posting his highest season averages of his career, and bench support from sharpshooter Doug McDermott, Aaron Brooks, Kirk Hinrich, and Tony Snell, led by Coach Tom Thibodeau.

The Bulls have a strong defense, multi-dimensional offense, and fantastic coaching that covers Rose’s empty spot. However, come playoff time, the Bulls won’t achieve their goals of winning a championship without Rose’s game-changing performances. His ability to take control of close games late in the fourth quarter is tremendously valuable and a necessity for a team whose eyes are locked on winning it all.

In my opinion, Rose isn’t ready…now. Clearly, he hasn’t shaken off the trauma and adversity that he has faced in the last couple years and that has resulted in his low season averages. Injuries happen to all professional athletes; even though his injuries were substantial, in order for the Bulls to achieve their championship aspirations, Rose needs to be Rose again.

Rose needs to be the leader that the Bulls need. He cannot play with the same reckless abandon he did when he won MVP; at the same time, his overly-conservative approach hinders his credibility as a leader and only slows his path to former glory. I am not asking Rose to play every minute of every game in the season. I am only asking that Rose has a restriction of 28-35 minutes per game in order to lighten the load on his body but improve his consistency and explosiveness in his play.

Rose’s situation mirrors that of Michael Jordan during the early part of his career. Jordan struggled physically and mentally to overcome the Detroit Pistons after experiencing a season-ending lower body injury. Jordan changed his game and acquired a different mentality to attack the Pistons’ menacing defense. Rose should do the same and make adjustments to his game.

Rose also needs to make subtle changes in his game in order to give the Bulls the best chance in the postseason because his health is instrumental to their postseason success. Rose can minimize the wear and tear on his body by utilizing his floater and mid-range jumper more instead of constantly attacking the basket. Floaters are safer than attacking the basket because there is minimal contact between the offensive player and defensive player.

As well, Rose can become more of a passer, especially since Butler and Gasol are posting career averages in almost every category. I enjoy watching an offense that is more pass-oriented like the World Champion San Antonio Spurs rather than a isolation-oriented, stagnant offense like the New York Knicks.

Fear not Bulls fans. Rose has the majority of the season left to get his legs under him and return to the Derrick Rose Chicagoans have loved and adored since he was drafted number one overall. Yet, will it be enough time for Rose to regain form and bring a championship back to Chicago this season?

After careful consideration, I believe a healthy Derrick Rose can lead the Bulls to a championship this season if he can manage his health and improve his game mentally and strategically. I believe in Derrick Rose. He is the underdog and his resurgence this season would silence his critics.

By Nirmal Mulaikal