Derrick Rose has not come out aggressively to start the first two games of the season. As a result, the Bulls have got off to slow starts, scoring 22 points in the first quarter in both games. While the assist numbers for Rose are slightly down (13 in two games), so are his free-throw attempts (four). Not what you'd expect from the reigning MVP, but for now it must continue.
The NBA is not necessarily a marathon this season. It is a gauntlet.
There will be 66 games played in 120 days and that doesn't include the playoffs. Teams will have to play three games on consecutive days at least once this season. There is going to be some tired players in their respective uniforms. Translation for Bulls fans, Derrick Rose must pace himself.
It is too early for Rose to have one of the performances that we have grown accustomed to. We should not expect it or demand it as it may come with a price.
Rose can go on and score 35 points in his next game and lose any and all energy for the next two or three games. This is not the typical basketball season. Rose having the game of his life is too much of a risky proposition with 115 days left. It may become the difference between winning the title and bowing out in the first round.
The plan should be for Rose to continue to facilitate while being aggressive enough to work himself into the rhythm of the game. Hand out a few assists and take no more than five shots early on. Get players such as Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah to have confidence from the start of the game. It is proven that once either one gets it going, the Bulls are tough to beat. For years Michael Jordan used this strategy and it worked for the likes of John Paxson and Jud Bucheler. Those players had less talent than Boozer and Noah, yet they could always be counted on to make big shots. It is a must for Rose to help them maximize their potential.
The Bulls are currently built around Rose, though, without him, they would still contend for a playoff spot, with Luol Deng so far appearing to have made another leap towards becoming a star player. For the Bulls to win this year, they must not become comfortable with the idea that Derrick Rose can bail them out. The have to follow Deng's lead and take matters in their own hands.
Rose doesn't have to be aggressive in every game if Boozer has the confidence to play to the potential of his skill set. The same goes for Noah and Richard Hamilton.
Bottom line is this—basketball is a team sport and it will require a team to go out and win it all this year. Let Rose continue to play the way that he has in the first two games. He's just pacing himself.
All veteran players pace themselves in the regular season, then reconfirm their legendary status once it matters most.