Is Derrick Rose Of The Bulls The NBA"s Best Player Or On The Way To It?
The Chicago Bulls face the Miami Heat tomorrow in a match-up of two of the best teams in the East, and a showdown of possibly the three best players in the NBA, assuming LeBron James is able to play.
But who's really the best player in the league, "The Chosen One," Dwayne Wade, or D-Rose?
Seeing as I was the first one to start singing the praises of Derrick Rose before everybody else jumped on the bandwagon, it's time to take it up a notch.
The question used to be who was the best point guard in the NBA, and Rose would always be in the background. You would hear Rajon Rondo of the Celtics, Deron Williams of Utah and Chris Paul of the Hornets.
It's time to end that charade.
That's not the discussion that should involve Rose any longer. The question now: Is there anybody in the NBA as good as Derrick Rose, and as valuable to his team?
Rose was Rookie of the Year in 2009, last year made the All-Star team and this year is one of the early favorites for Most Valuable Player.
He challenged himself with that question before the season started: "Why can't I be the MVP?"
That's why Rose is as good as he is. He is never satisfied with his performance. He is always looking to get better, and putting in the work to accomplish that.
In his rookie season, they said he had no outside shot, so he worked on that and became a dangerous mid-range shooter.
Coming into this season, they said he couldn't shoot the three, so you know how he spent his summer.
He already surpassed his three-point total for his first two seasons several games ago, and is shooting at about a 38 percent clip.
He has also become a much more well-rounded player with Tom Thibodeau as his coach. His game has evolved, and not only has he become a much better offensive player this year, but he's no longer the liability on the defensive end of the court that he was before.
That's because he now has a real NBA coach. Playing under Vinny Del Negro the past two seasons hindered his growth. It's amazing he played as well as he did, leading the team to the playoffs his first two years with so little coaching.
I know I'm going to be called out for this, but Derrick Rose reminds me of Michael Jordan. There are similarities.
They both exceeded expectations.
Michael Jordan was the third pick in the draft, and became the greatest player in the history of the league. While people thought he would be very good, nobody predicted what he became.
The saying was the only one who ever stopped Michael Jordan was his college coach, Dean Smith.
Who thought Rose would become as good as he has become at such a young age? He's already the second-best player in the history of the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen be damned.
They both came into the league as slashers with suspect jump shots, and worked to improve their weakness and make it a strength.
There is another similarity that is perhaps the most important of all. They both really hate to lose.
Michael Jordan used to cheat playing board games against his college roommate's mom because he hated losing so much.
I can't say if Rose has ever gone that far, but like MJ, Rose has that burning desire to win that can't be taught. You have to be born with it.
His game is also more than just highlight-film dunks, (another similarity to Jordan) but can you remember a player his size that regularly ended up on SportsCenter's Top 10 plays?
There is no other point guard in the league that can match him physically, whether it is speed or strength.
In fact, you could say that he's a mini-LeBron. He's unstoppable going to the basket, and pound for pound is probably stronger than LeBron, who outweighs him by close to a hundred pounds, which brings me to the basis of this article.
Is there anybody in the league you would rather have right now than Derrick Rose? We all know the contenders.
You have LeBron, Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade, Kobe and Dwight Howard.
Kobe is getting old. He's still good, but you wouldn't take him over Rose when you look to the future.
Howard is a physical beast, but he's nowhere near as talented as Rose as a basketball player. I also like a guy who has control of the ball, rather than somebody who needs the ball fed to him.
That leaves Durant and the twins from Miami.
Durant is a terrific player, and while he can handle the ball well for his size, he doesn't have the ball-handling skills of a Rose. He's also having a bit of a down year despite leading the league in scoring.
That's crazy to say, but he seemed like he was more dominant last year and this summer during the basketball championships. He was the alpha dog on that team over Rose, but Rose seems to have overtaken him since the season started.
Dwayne Wade is playing very well after a bit of a slow start, but like I wrote last summer, he's taken a beating in his career, and is not going to stay at this level for much longer.
That leaves LeBron James. In high school, he was probably a better physical specimen than just about anyone in the league. He's a freak that comes around once every 20 or 30 years, but because of that, he hasn't worked as hard on his game as he should have.
He can go to the basket anytime he wants, and he can shoot the three, but he has never developed a mid-range or post-up game. He has his flaws, and it seems like he doesn't want to put in the effort to make himself better.
That's why he took his "talents to South Beach," and joined Wade and Chris Bosh. He didn't want the pressure of being the one who had to lead his team to a championship. He tried and he failed in Cleveland. He wanted a couple of shoulders to lean on and take the burden off of him.
That shows me he's not the assassin that Rose is. Rose could have tried to recruit LeBron during the summer, but didn't. When asked about it, he said, "He could have called me."
Rose didn't call because he wants to be the "man," and he believes he is good enough to lead the Bulls to a championship. Whether that will happen or not is for the future to determine, but he has carried this team on his shoulders this year without both Carlos Boozer and now Joakim Noah for long stretches of time, and they still have one of the best records in the East.
Rose has improved his three-point shot and free-throw shooting. He also plays much better defense, and is finally starting to get to the line, with 45 attempts in his last four games.
And if there is anything still lacking, he'll work harder than anybody to fix it.
The players I mentioned are all great players, but there can only be one No. 1.
As color analyst Stacy King likes to say on the Chicago Bull broadcasts when Rose makes a great play: "He's too big, too fast, too strong, too good."
Who am I to argue? Though you can if you like.
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