Tom Thibodeau: Derrick Rose Is 'One of the Best' in NBA When Healthy

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2018

Minnesota Timberwolves' Derrick Rose plays against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau remains Derrick Rose's biggest fan.

"As long as he's healthy, he'll be one of the best players in the league," Thibs said Monday, per Jace Frederick of the Pioneer Press.

Rose, 30, has been serving as Jeff Teague's backup at point guard in Minnesota this season and has given the team strong minutes, averaging 16 points and five assists per game off the bench. He's been rewarded with 28.7 minutes per game, pulling him nearly even with Teague (32.3 MPG).

Teague himself has played well to start the season, averaging 19.7 PPG and 6.7 APG. More importantly, he offers the Wolves more floor spacing, shooting 50 percent from three, while Rose is hitting on just 25 percent of his attempts from deep after three games. 

Nonetheless, Rose's solid play means the Wolves always have a reliable point guard on the floor and can even pair him with Teague in the backcourt. In 43 minutes with Rose and Teague in the lineup together, the Wolves have an offensive rating of 129.8 and a defensive rating of 130.2, per NBA.com. Both numbers are significantly higher than the team's average offensive (119.8) and defensive (119.4) ratings. 

Meanwhile, Rose has embraced his role as the leader of the second unit.

"Our job is to come in and play with a lot of energy," he said, per Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. "My job coming in is whenever I get it, attack and look for open guys. Make sure that intensity is there. I think this is most shooters I've ever played with on a second unit. Everybody's a shooter, and I've got the whole lane to figure things out and take my time."

He's also shown flashes of the form that made him an MVP in the 2010-11 season. On Sunday, he blitzed the Dallas Mavericks for 28 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block in a 140-136 loss. And as Thibodeau has verbalized, that means Rose still has the ability to produce at the highest level, and certainly has value to the Wolves.

"I think people underestimate him at times," he told Zgoda. "He's a real humble guy. He's very unique. There were a lot of nights when he was the MVP, he had a lot of points but he was always happiest when we won and when his teammates did well."