Derrick Rose will make yet another comeback with the Chicago Bulls next season. In order for the team to make a serious title run, it will need a lot from the former MVP point guard and current face of the franchise.
It would be wonderful if Rose could stay healthy, something he hasn’t been able to do for quite some time.
A torn meniscus forced him to miss all but 10 games last season, and he sat out the entire 2012-13 campaign while recovering from ACL surgery.
In Rose’s absence, however, the Bulls didn’t roll over and turn into a lousy team. They won at least 45 games and reached the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, despite failing to make it past the second round.
Rose has looked impressive this summer, working on his game and attempting to become the megastar he once was.
According to Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago, Bulls forward Taj Gibson believes his teammate will dominate in 2014-15:
Derrick's been having a great summer. He's sacrificed, stayed in Chicago all summer to work on his game. He wants to let his game speak for itself. He's staying away from all the negative stuff, just working on his game. Every day I go in the gym he's there and moving forward. He's going to come back dominant.
Rose is now surrounded by possibly the best supporting cast he's ever had. Although Carmelo Anthony decided against leaving the New York Knicks for the Windy City, Bulls management was still able to net a boatload of talented pieces.
Doug McDermott, one of college basketball’s greatest scorers of all time, and the energetic Cameron Bairstow were acquired via the draft. Two-time NBA champ Pau Gasol and Aaron Brooks, who will replace the departed D.J. Augustin, signed as free agents.
Plus, sweet-shooting forward Nikola Mirotic finally made his way to the United States.
With those pickups joining holdovers like Rose, Gibson, Joakim Noah, and Jimmy Butler, expectations are sky-high for the new-look Chicago squad. This may be the deepest basketball team on the planet.
So just what do the Bulls need from Rose, other than to stay off the dreaded injured list?
Under coach Tom Thibodeau’s guidance, the Bulls were the Association's top defensive team last season. However, they weren't so great when it came to scoring, producing a league-worst 93.7 points per game.
While a healthy Rose brings quite a bit to the lineup, putting the ball in the hoop is clearly what he does best. He averaged a career-high 25 points per game during his memorable MVP season of 2010-11.
It isn’t imperative, though, that Rose repeat those numbers for the Bulls to make a deep playoff run. Offensive weapons like Gasol, McDermott and Mirotic should take scoring pressure off Rose, so perhaps about 18 points a night will suffice.
Rose contributed a career-low 15.9 points per contest during his 10-game stint a season ago. Rust from being off the court for over a year obviously played a major role in those uncharacteristic numbers.
If the meniscus injury hadn't occurred, Rose likely would’ve shaken off the rust, found his rhythm and eventually raised his scoring average. He was starting to turn the corner before going down on Nov. 22, as he had put up at least 19 points in three of his final four games of the year.
At full strength, the Chicago native can get to the basket effortlessly due to his speed, quickness and sick crossover. He can also destroy defenses at times with his outside shooting.
Although the Bulls will be much better offensively than they were last season, they’ll still need a decent dose of scoring punch from Mr. Rose.
Rose is no Magic Johnson or John Stockton. He’ll never go down as one of the greatest assist men in league history.
However, he can dish the rock and knows how to run an NBA offense.
While McDermott obviously hasn’t played a real game with Rose yet, he told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune he's well aware of his passing skills:
Derrick (Rose) was on my (practice) team pretty much every day so that was really cool playing off him. He looks really good. He's finding a lot of us on passes we never knew could be done. We've never played with point guards who can throw the passes he throws. So it's pretty cool.
With an outstanding supporting cast next season, Rose should have a ton of opportunities to rack up assists. He has plenty of “mouths to feed,” so to speak.
Expect to see him often drive the lane and then kick it out to open shooters like McDermott, Mirotic, Mike Dunleavy and second-year swingman Tony Snell, who had a terrific summer league.
Bleacher Report’s John Wilmes wrote about Rose getting the ball the Gasol:
And Rose is sure to land many dimes into Gasol’s hands directly, too. A strong mid-range shooter and exceedingly clever roll man, he’ll be a great pick-and-pop partner. Rose will also be able to spot him on mismatches near the rim—be they either through height or IQ.
Noah—whom the Bulls offense went through last year—and Gasol easily form the league’s top passing big-man duo. It just might the best since the Sacramento Kings’ combo of Vlade Divac and Chris Webber back in the early 2000s.
Both Noah and Gasol will make life much easier for open shooters as well as cutters. It won’t hurt, though, for Rose to serve as another playmaker, only helping the team’s offense become more dangerous.
Whether it’s providing scoring or making his teammates better, a healthy D-Rose is exactly what will put the Bulls over the hump in 2014-15.
All stats are from Basketball-Reference.com.