I Put On For My City...

Jameel SawyerContributor IApril 13, 2009

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 17: Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls runs onto the court during player introductions before a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on December 17, 2008 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agreees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Derrick Rose was just one of many Chicago natives who was poised to be a star, but it may have been fate that sent Rose to play for his hometown team after the Chicago Bulls were miraculous granted first pick in the 2008 draft last June.

With the pressure of being the number one overall draft pick, Rose, was projected as one of the best draft prospects in his class, and instantly he had the responsibility of putting the Bulls back on the map weighing on his shoulders.

While many players would agree, the pressures of playing in your hometown can be overwhelming; failing to deliver can turn a happy homecoming into the stuff that nightmares are made of. (Take the Stephon Marbury’s returning to New York for example)

Rose, however, was an exception. With the challenge of a struggling franchise on his hands, Rose has carried the Bulls back to playoffs for the first time in two years. While fans aren’t yet saying “Michael Jordan who?”, onlookers are seeing Rose’s game blossom beautifully much like the flower that is his last name. Rose’s combination of height, strength, speed, and explosiveness make him a match-up nightmare for many guards and has opposing coaches shaking in their designer shoes.

Staying under the radar and averaging a quiet 16 points a game this season, the unassuming 20 year-old has managed to show glimpses of greatness by helping bring life back to the Bulls.

Last summer Bulls General Manager John Paxton decided to take an extended vacation so it seemed, as the Bulls made very few roster changes to improve on their dismal 33-49 record from the 2007/2008 season.  Thus, bringing back the same team from last year and adding Rose to the mix is a prime example of his impact on the team. To date, Rose has played all but one game this season, and with the loss of guard, Luol Deng mid-season, Rose, with the help of Ben Gordon, has helped the Bulls keep their heads above water in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Rose is currently second amongst rookies in scoring and leads his team as well as all rookies in assists. He has not only impressed the likes of fans, but in turn has impressed the Bulls first year head coach, Vinny Del Negro, who said that there’s not even a conversation as far as he’s concerned in regards to who should be Rookie of the Year.

“No one’s played at the level Derrick’s played from the start to this point. Not even close in my opinion.’’ Del Negro told the Chicago Sun-Times early on in the season.

While critics might be quick to point out Rose’s weaknesses—his shooting inconsistencies and his inability to consistently knock down shots outside of 18 feet—the young player still has a lot of room to grow. So far, Rose has shot a respectable 47 percent from the field this season and his mid to long-range game will only improve in years to come.


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