Forget about all the MVP talk surrounding Derrick Rose; in two or three years, he will be the best player in the NBA. This may sound crazy, but it is just a matter of time. Kobe is getting old, and LeBron squandered his top dog status by fleeing to Miami.
Thunder fans are probably pulling their hair out right now, but Kevin Durant is less dimensional and athletic than Derrick Rose. In fact, Durant will be the second best player on the Thunder in a few years. Russell Westbrook is the only rising star who poses a legitimate threat to Rose becoming the best player in the NBA, and he is lagging way behind Rose’s emerging perimeter game.
Derrick Rose’s contributions cannot be measured by stats alone, however impressive they may be. Derrick Rose is a field general who can lead the Bulls to a 130-128 overtime victory one night, and allow the Bulls to squeak by in a low scoring game the next. The only real knock on Rose is his lack of defense; however, if his perimeter shooting continues to improve, he could go for 35 points per game. That's right, Derrick Rose could flirt with statistics only Kobe and Michael have achieved recently.
Rose has the potential to play defense as well as anybody. Up until this point, he has never needed to. On the defensive end, Derrick sometimes looks like he is out of position, but when he does get burned, he tends to burn several defenders on the next play. Rose just needs to recognize that he cannot take plays off on defense if he wants to be recognized as the NBA’s top player.
Rose’s potential was never more visible than in a loss to the Lakers at the Staples Center. After a game in which Rose was unstoppable, an upset Rose was taken aside by Kobe Bryant. Bryant whispered something into Derrick Rose’s ear, and one can only speculate that he was saying, “Derrick, don’t worry. In two years, this is your league.” Of course, it's still Kobe, and he probably added, “But for now it’s still my league.”
Even though Durant has been anointed the successor to Kobe and LeBron, there is no set line of succession to determine who the NBA’s best player is. Kevin Durant lacks the explosiveness that will be needed more and more in the coming years of the NBA. Derrick Rose is just as explosive as LeBron James, just in a smaller package. While James can lay out defenders on the way to the rim thanks to a six foot eight frame, Derrick Rose can maneuver between three players mid-air while taking the ball to the basket.
Durant relies too much on the line. His most explosive move is hooking his elbow under a defender’s outstretched arm and going up with the ball to draw a foul even though he has created no shot. That is the key difference between Durant and Rose—Durant cannot create shots like Rose. His deadly aim creates shots thanks to the dynamic qualities of Westbrook, but Rose currently averages higher field goal percentages from the floor, and the three point line, than Durant this year. If Durant wants any hope of being as good as Rose, he will need to get strong like Rose. Once Rose starts getting superstar calls, his lack of “talent” at drawing fouls will be marginalized. Rose is so athletic that he completes drives that he is fouled on, while making it look like he has not been touched.
Based on the improvement Derrick Rose has shown in his game this year, it is safe to assume he is one of the hardest working players in the NBA. If he continues to uphold that work ethic, he will become the best player in the league. Derrick Rose is developing a dependable three, and opponents should be wary of the day he becomes deadly from beyond the arc. Once this happens, we will no longer judge him based on his peers, but instead by how many rings he has won.
Of course, Rose’s best characteristic has not even been mentioned yet. He is a born winner. He won two state championships in high school, and he was robbed of the NCAA Championship in his lone collegiate year by a coaching blunder that allowed Kansas to shoot a three, when they should have simply been fouled. In two NBA seasons, Rose has piloted a mediocre Bulls teams to the playoffs. Now they are good, and if Omer Asik can become a reliable member of the rotation in crunch time, the Bulls could win the NBA Finals this year. Crazier things have happened.