When big news breaks in the NBA, Right Down Euclid’s Chris Manning and RDE editor Zak Kolesar have you covered. In this edition of “Countertop Conversation,” Chris and Zak sit down to discuss Derrick Rose and his ongoing recovery from ACL surgery.
With his team in the second round of playoffs against the Miami Heat, speculation is running wild concerning the health of Derrick Rose. The former MVP has been out for over a year, and it is not entirely sure when (or if) he is going to come back this season. There is also the worry that Rose may not come back the same player after so much time off.
Chris Manning: With Derrick Rose having been out of action upward of a year, his Chicago Bulls are about to be eliminated from the playoffs. I’ve said from the beginning that it’s good for Rose to sit out and heal. All the speculation about him coming back is a little absurd. Not every athlete is going to recover like Adrian Peterson did. Peterson’s recovery was a once-in-a-generation recovery and it’s wildly unfair to expect every athlete coming off ACL surgery to come back in the same way. When Rose comes back (and if he comes back the same player), he’s a top 10 player in the league – no question about it. And even if Rose came back this year, I don’t think the Bulls could have been expected to take down the Heat in the East.
Zak Kolesar: Some say that Rose may have been turned off from coming back due to the lack of trade movement before the deadline this season. I don’t think that this is the reason at all, and I also don’t think that Rose is being selfish. He’s taking the blunt of the heat even though Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng are nursing injuries and sicknesses (this shouldn’t be a reason to miss games in the playoffs). Like you said, coming back from an ACL injury is no walk in the park. It takes vigorous training and rehab to even get back on the court to practice. Coming back early from an injury like Rose sustained could be detrimental to a career, and the Bulls aren’t willing to risk the chance of having Rose reinjure himself in a series against a team that looks well on their way to win a championship.
CM: Hypothetically, if Rose comes back at full strength next season, I’d love the Bulls in a match up against the Heat. With Noah, Gibson and company on the inside, the Bulls could have a real shot at exploiting what I think is the Heat’s biggest weakness. And with a healthy Rose, you have a player who can destroy Mario Chalmers and penetrate the lane. However, that’s assuming Rose comes back the same aggressive offensive cannonball he has been thus far in his NBA career. If he dials back that aggression at all, he’s not the same player – period. He’s not a Kyrie Irving type guard with a steady jumper in the toolbox, and I’m worried about his mindset for that reason.
ZK: I’m on the same page regarding how his game will be affected because of the injury. Rose was one of my favorite players to watch in the paint before he went down, and I agree that he will have to dial back his thumping jump when going up with the ball in the lane. On the other hand, from watching the videos of Rose rehabbing, I’m confident that he will come back a physically stronger player. That doesn’t mean he will be making the same plays as he was during his MVP season, but we will still see the same explosiveness displayed in a different light. Whether that means Rose will become a better distributor or position his body differently to avoid bad falls or just stay the same, we don’t know yet.
CM: If Rose comes back shooting jumpers, I really believe that he won’t be the same player. For his career, he is a 46.1 percent shooter and shot 43.5 percent in his last full season. To break this down a little bit, Rose’s two most frequent shot areas by a wide margin are right by the rim, with both the left and right side having over 10 shots taken in the 2011-12 regular season. Only two other areas had more than 50 shots, and those were low percentage three pointers. This, more than anything, tells me that in order to be the same player, he needs to be mentally ready to attack the rim. If not, he better have improved his jumper and off the dribble step back. If not, he becomes incredibly predictable and easy to defend.
ZK: If Rose tries to adjust his game like you said and fails his next season back, it could be detrimental to the Bulls as a team. Deng will be a free agent in 2013, Carlos Boozer in 2014 and Joakim Nosh in 2015. With Rose sitting at 24-years old at the moment, Deng will be 29 when his contract ends, Boozer will be 33 and Noah will be 31. Even if they plan on resigning these guys, Chicago could be in some trouble if they can’t contend for a championship if Rose struggles next season. Again, it’s important that he doesn’t reinjure himself, but the more time he sits out the less confidence I have in him that he will come back the same or better than he once was.
CM: Let’s say LeBron leaves for Los Angeles in the summer of 2014. If he does that, the East suddenly becomes wide open and ripe for the picking. Looking ahead, Chicago is the one current contender that could have their core makeup intact, even if they have to blow the bank to do so. The x-factor here is Rose. If he comes back at full strength and is the same player, he’s undoubtedly the key to them being a legitimate title contender. If he’s not, the Bulls will be just another team that couldn’t quite make it to the top of the hill. And for Rose, he’ll be another “what if” player in a sport that has had countless players. It would be even a sadder decline considering that he was once MVP and, at the worst, the second best point guard in the entire NBA.
ZK: Will Rose even be a top 5 point guard once he returns? Stephen Curry has definitely climbed up the ladder, Russell Westbrook made it a point to improve on his duties as a distributor and Kyrie is becoming one of the NBA’s brightest stars. That’s already three floor generals who weren’t ahead of Rose on the point guard totem pole when he was playing but now may be because of the time Rose has missed. This injury may hinder him from staying where he once stood among the league’s best with point guards in the NBA on the rise.