Yesterday, I posted where Jimmy Butler, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, and Joakim Noah ranked in Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 Players of 2014 series. Obviously, a fifth Chicago Bulls player, a certain Derrick Rose feller, ranks on that list, higher than those four. Today, we look at where Rose came in on the list.
As in the previous post, I’ll show you what the tag team of Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney said about Rose, and then afterwards, I’ll offer my thoughts. And as I said earlier, please check out their post, it’s a fantastic in-depth read to get the juices flowing for the NBA season.
12. Derrick Rose
“Even Rose’s staunchest supporters should understand — without explanation — why the point guard slipped out of the top 10 on this year’s list. He hasn’t played an NBA game in 16 months. He’s coming off of a serious knee injury. The other superstars at his position — Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook — all had banner years. Paul led the Clippers to their best season in franchise history; Parker led the Spurs to within 5.2 seconds of a title; and Westbrook enjoyed a career year, helping lead a 60-win Thunder team whose 9.21 average margin of victory was the best since the 2007-08 Celtics.
So where exactly was Rose when we last saw him? In the lockout-shorted 2011-12 season, Rose played just 39 games because of injury, making the All-Star team but missing out on All-NBA honors. The 2011 MVP finished 10th in the 2012 MVP race, drawing just one third-place vote, but his PER ranked No. 2 at his position, behind Paul. His middling outside shooting numbers held him back a bit, but his explosiveness, quickness and power off the dribble, along with his overall playmaking instincts, were enough to keep him in the discussion among the NBA’s very best talents. More importantly, perhaps, the Bulls were 32-9 (.821) when he played in 2011-12. That’s a 67-win pace in a normal 82-game season. Combining the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, Chicago has gone 94-28 (.770) when Rose has suited up. The 2011 Eastern Conference finals aside, all Rose does is win, win, win, no matter what, what, what.
Photo Credit: Matt Slocum/AP Photo
It’s worth noting that Rose is unique among the names in this 11-to-20 group because he’s established enough to have performed at a top-five overall level (only Dirk Nowitzki fits that bill) while still being young enough to do it again (sorry, Dirk). Will Rose be able to reclaim that lofty standing in his first year back on the court? Will his knee injury — a fairly common one by NBA standards — lower his individual ceiling enough to allow other young point guards (Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving) a window to move past him? Will the injury lead to stylistic changes in his game that reshape his reputation? It’s burning questions like these that prompted the NBA to schedule Bulls-Heat on opening night. Who can wait any longer to start finding out the answers?”
Me. I can’t. I’m so excited.
After reading their analysis, I decided that putting Rose outside the top-ten is absolutely, positively, utterly….reasonable. That’s part of the beauty of the piece, it’s all objective analysis and reasonable arguments.
I’m trying to think of ways to argue his ranking, and I really can’t. Rose is still in the cream of the crop of the league, we mustn’t forget that he won the MVP and captained a 60-win team and a 50-win team (in a lockout shortened 66 games). So of course, it would be ludicrous to drop Rose out of the top-15.
But, as pointed out, Rose has to be dropped for the simple uncertainty of who he will be. We have to presume he will be a little worse than his main counterpart, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul.
More interesting than this list, though, will be the list at the end of this season. Will the young guys, like Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving, surpass Rose? Will Rose stay in the 12 range, or will he reestablish himself as a top-10 player in the league? Will he be ahead of Westbrook?
These are some of the fascinating stories to watch in an increasingly point guard-driven league. I can’t wait.