April 28, 2012 marked a day in which the Chicago Bulls fans lost their franchise player. Derrick Rose went down like a lead balloon, grabbed at his knee and has missed every game since, recovering from a torn ACL (via 76ers" target="_blank">ESPN Chicago).
The question is, will D-Rose take his MVP game to a new level after his return from injury? Or have we seen the premature end to what could have been an incredible career?
CSN Bay Area transcribed a live chat with Ric Bucher of ESPN. During the conversation, Bucher answered a question about whether Rose could mirror the phenomenal comeback made by NFL running back Adrian Peterson.
Peterson suffered a torn ACL and MCL in December of 2011 and is now in the conversation for league MVP (via Yahoo! Sports).
Question: Is Adrian Peterson's return from his ACL injury a sign that D-Rose can also come back even better or is football movements that much different from basketball?
Ric Bucher: Derrick [Rose]'s people certainly think so. They've told me that he's doing weight training and taking care of his body in a way he never did before—and considering he was a league MVP without all that, it does suggest he could come back better than ever.
It's certainly encouraging to see signs of optimism coming out of D-Rose's camp.
Although his work ethic is unquestionable, one cannot help but imagine there will be an uphill battle once he's returned to the hardwood. Not only will Rose be nearly a year removed from his last taste of NBA action, but he could face a steep decline in terms of athletic ability.
Which is where we begin.
Same Level of Athleticism?
Could Derrick Rose remain elite without his world class athleticism?
When a player suffers an injury as physically destructive as a torn ACL, there is a chance that player will never return to the previous level of strength. Considering Derrick Rose's greatest attribute was his athleticism, this could present a serious problem.
If D-Rose is no longer in possession of the same physical gifts, will he be anything more than a shell of his old self?
Many will cite his improved jump shot and killer crossover as signs that he will be okay. Others will cite Adrian Peterson as a symbol for recovery, thus enabling optimism to present itself in the case of D-Rose.
The fact of the matter is, Rose would lose the most important aspect of his presently developed game with his athleticism capped off.
Rose thrives on getting to the lane and converting highlight reel finishes. Whether that means he's throwing down a dunk or maintaining unreal hangtime to hit his signature floater, Rose relies heavily upon his explosive athleticism.
In 2011-'12, Rose attempted 50.2 percent of his shots in the paint or restricted area.
Can Rose Survive as a Jump Shooter?
Should Derrick Rose lose his athletic burst, his offensive game would inevitably become limited. Although he would still find his way into the paint, he'd be forced to rely much more heavily on his jump shot.
An area of his game which is no better than average.
Diehard fans will claim Rose's jump shot has reached an elite level, but that's simply not true.
Rose hit 40.3 percent of his mid-range jump shots and 33.2 percent of his three-point attempts in 2010-'11. Those numbers sat at 39.3 percent from mid-range and 31.2 percent from three during an injury-plagued 2011-12.
He made just 36.7 percent of his long two-pointers in 2011-'12.
With that being said, Rose's jump shot has improved by virtue of two factors. Not only has he worked his tail off to become more consistent, but his ball handling and explosive athleticism keep defenders on their toes.
If defenders begin to press up on Rose, he may not have the same athleticism to blow by anyone. Instead, he'll be forced into contested jump shots and find himself with a much lower conversion rate.
A la Kobe Bryant.
Focusing on the Weak Points
The most beneficial aspect of Derrick Rose's recovery process is that it gives him time to focus on his weakest areas. This includes improving his jump shot, solidifying his base on defense and overall court vision.
So why not express optimism for his future?
This is not to suggest that Rose is not already improving, but instead to suggest he will increase his focus in said areas. With the doubt that is placed in Rose's knee, he will be more likely to do the following:
Turn the ball over, risk re-injury or adapt and capitalize on one's fundamentals.
If Rose opts to do the latter, he will be able to create space between he and potential defenders. This will lead to his utilizing his improving jump shot, call for high screens or dominate with his left-to-right crossover.
Perhaps an injury was the best thing that ever happened to D-Rose. Only time will tell.