Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Derrick Rose was an avid fan of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. Jordan, a five-time MVP and six-time NBA Finals champion, is considered by many as the best player to ever play the game and, naturally, is the best player to ever sport the red, white, and black uniform.
Rose takes these statements as motivation, and I believe he thinks he can have a distinguished career that could be paralleled to Jordan's (yes, I did just say that).
Shocking as it might be, the 22-year old Rose should be your MVP for the 2010-11 season, NBA fans, and I'm going to tell you why.
In Rose's first two seasons (2008-10) the club had 41 wins each year to achieve an 82-82 record. This year they have an 18-9 record and are in first place in the Central Division, an honor they have held on to at season's end just twice since the Michael Jordan era came to a sudden halt in 1998.
A lot of the improvement of the Bulls has much to do with how Rose is protecting the ball. The 6'3" point guard is averaging 8.4 assists per game, a gigantic step over the six flat he averaged just one year removed.
He has also made more three-pointers this year as of Christmas Eve (45) than he had combined in his first two years (32). His percentage has dramatically increased from .222 his rookie season to .268 as a sophomore, to .398 in his "MVP" season.
Because he has taken more three-pointers than usual, his total field goal percentage has dipped a little, but amazingly only from .489 to .461. This is crazy good when you consider how many threes he has taken thus far (113, or 22 percent of his field goals).
With playmakers like Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer, defensive specialists like Joakim Noah, and sharpshooters like Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer, the Chicago Bulls are a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference this year, and Rose is the main threat of the squad.
In my book, Rose seems like a clear shot over fellow point guards like Deron Williams, who doesn't average as much or shoot as well as Rose; and Russell Westbrook, who isn't the best player on his team and therefore is much lower on the list of candidates than Rose.
It seems like the Bulls are always lost whenever Rose is off the court (for 10 or so minutes a game on average), and it isn't a mystery that his leadership makes this team better.
His leadership can be perfectly explained in a December 4th contest at the friendly confines of the United Center in Chicago. Rose and the Bulls pulled out an overtime victory, 119-116 over the Rockets, but it was D-Rose's leadership that stood above all.
The man was possessed, scoring 30, snatching seven rebounds and five loose balls, and assisting on 11 field goals.
However, the thing that impressed me the most was that he (of course) sealed the deal with the last two Bulls field goals, both in the final minute. It propelled the Bulls to a three-point victory.
With leadership and improvement out of the way, why else does he deserve the award?
Rose seems at this point like a clear-cut case of the "best-player-on-a-legit-contender", thus making him high on the list for the award and first in my book.
Critics have long been all over Rose for his apparent poor defense, and under first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau his defense has clearly taken a turn for the best.
He has increased his blocked shots per game from .3 to .7.
He is averaging a steal per contest after averaging .7 per in the 2009-10 season.
He attacks better on the boards, improving a paltry 3.7 average from last year and turning it into a solid 4.4 rebounds per game this year.
He has been more aggressive on D, averaging more personal fouls than ever before at 2.1.
In summary, his critics have noticed that his game has vastly improved.
But that doesn't mean controversy has been totally absent from him.
There were reports in early 2008 that claimed Rose cheated on the SAT, and some sources even went as far as saying that he didn't even take the required standardized test. However no evidence was found and the investigation was delayed.
In the summer of 2009 it was proved that Rose didn't take his SAT, and consequently the 2007-08 Memphis team that lost in the national title game had to vacate its' 38 victories on the season due to Rose.
College fans argued that he tainted a season; NBA fans say he shouldn't have been forced into that dreadful year at Memphis in the first place.
Whatever the actual reasoning, Derrick Rose has lived up to being selected first in the NBA Draft and all the expectations that come with it, including his fierce determination and leadership.
In his first year he won Rookie of the Year.
In his second he was an All-Star.
Finally, in his third, he will win the MVP.
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