Written by: John Bray (@44ShadesOfBray)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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On Wednesday night, the professional sports gods looked down upon the great city of Chicago and delivered a jaw-jarring sucker punch by inflicting serious injuries to Chi-Town’s two most prominent athletes, Patrick Kane and Derrick Rose. (Sorry Jon Lester, talk to me when you end the Curse of the Billy Goat.) Since I know next to nothing about hockey, I was much more intrigued by Rose’s injury.
After practice on Tuesday, Rose complained of pain in his right knee, the same knee that suffered a torn meniscus in the 2013-2014 season and forced Rose to sit out 71 regular season games. The results of his MRI came back last night, and just as Chicago’s staff had feared, Rose had re-torn the meniscus. This is the third knee injury for Rose in the last four years.
Basketball fans should remember Rose suffering a torn ACL during the first round of the 2012 Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers, which forced him to miss the entirety of the 2012-2013 season and 67% of the Bulls regular season games since then. You know, the injury that sparked Tweets and Memes such as “Dr. Dre will release Detox before Derrick Rose returns.” (Dr. Dre, if you’re reading this, we are still waiting.)
This is just the latest unfortunate turn of events for the former MVP who as a 22-year-old, momentarily, made Bulls fans forget the glory days of Michael Jordan and look forward to the bright future.
This recent injury poses the question - will we ever see Rose play at that MVP level again?
Simply put, NO.
It’s completely unfair for NBA fans and media members to ask this question. (I know I asked it, but I’m a rebel without a cause.) The current Derrick Rose is not and never will be able to play at the same level as the old MVP Derrick Rose.
Rose’s game used to be predicated on athleticism. He was an aggressive driver, who finished in the lane because of his quickness, strength, and jumping abilities. It seemed almost like everyday he was on SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays breaking ankles or throwing his body into a plethora of defenders and finishing a circus shot. And who could forget his posterizing slam over Goran Dragic on the fastbreak? Those plays are a thing of the past and we, as basketball fans, all need to come to terms with that sad fact.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the stats because numbers never lie.
As NBA personnel evaluate a player’s declining athleticism, they test for changes in a few per game statistics, one being free throws attempted. While not the end all be all, this is a fairly accurate representation since most athletically gifted players drive into the lane and draw fouls when they get there. In his MVP season, Rose shot a cool 6.9 free throws per game. The following season, where he remained healthy throughout the regular season, he averaged 6.1. So, it is safe to assume that Rose’s first option was attacking the rim. After his numerous knee injuries, Rose’s attempts per game has fallen to just 3.8. Another interesting drop between the MVP and current season are his number of dunks. As the MVP, Rose threw down 32 thunderous slams – equating to 2% of all his shots taken in that season. Up to this point in the current season, Rose looks hesitant to make highlight plays, evidenced by his meager 4 dunks – 0.5% of his shots attempted.
Despite the advances in modern medicine, Rose was never going to return to his MVP form because of the severity of his injuries and their damaging effects on his athleticism. However, the loss of athleticism shouldn’t be Rose’s biggest concern if he wants to return to playing at an All-Star level. It’s his mentality. This is where Derrick Rose has suffered the most.
Rose has been very open about his fear of what these knee injuries could mean for his future and was quoted as saying, “When I sit out it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball. Having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to, I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore. Or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. (I’m) just learning and being smart.”
(Sorry Bulls fans, I’m sure that was tough to read.)
Even more than his comments, Rose’s shot selection displays how Rose has changed his approach to the game.
Here’s his shot selection from the MVP season. Rose was not a great shooter from deep, but average from the wings. Only 24.1% of his shot attempts on the season were from beyond the arc, so he knew that he wasn’t a great shooter. But look at the size of the circles around the rim. Clearly this was his favorite spot to get to on the floor. In fact, 29.4% of his shot attempts were at the rim, the highest percentage for any location and he shot above the league average when he got there.
Now let’s compare that to this current season:
Just from looking at the chart, you can see an increase in the amount of circles near the 3-point line and midrange. Take a guess where the majority of Rose’s shots have come from. If you guessed the 3-point line then you are correct! Those shots have accounted for 32.3% of all his attempts. That’s an 8.2% increase from his MVP season. For those who don’t know, (maybe including D-Rose) he’s a CAREER 30.6% 3-POINT SHOOTER. WHY IS HE SHOOTING MORE?!?!?! The only logical explanation is that Rose fears contact, or at least thinks about it more when he plays. He attacks the rim less frequently and that’s shown by his shots at the rim falling to just 26.2% of his shots. Simply put, Rose is now a below average finisher.
It’s a harsh reality, but D-Rose will never be the same. If he can get healthy, he can still be a good guard in this guard-dominated league. Before this most recent injury, Rose was recording 18.4 points per game and 5.0 assists per game, and showed glimpses of the old D-Rose. The Bulls even looked like title contenders once again.
Please D-Rose, get healthy, and if you have to sit out the rest of the season, then so be it. You most likely will have to because of the surgery anyways. Get your mind right and come back with a little more of that D-Rose mentality that the basketball world fell in love with.