Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010
By Mark Schanowski
Remember when Derrick Rose posed the question Why cant I be the best player in the league? when I asked him about his individual goals for the season at Bulls Media Day? Well, winning MVP honors might not be within the 3rd year guards reach THIS season, but theres no reason why he couldnt make the jump to join the ranks of the top 10-12 players in the NBA.
Where would you rank Rose among the NBAs top players? Please post your comments in the section below.
Certainly hes in the top 25 after making his first All-Star team last season. And, coming off his gold medal winning performance as the starting point guard for Team USA at the World Championship in Turkey, hes getting more national recognition than ever before. Dont be surprised if Rose is voted in as a starting guard for the Eastern Conference at this seasons All-Star game in L.A. Hes becoming more comfortable in front of the television cameras during interviews, and hes added a number of national endorsements to his resume.
But when you get right down to it, what matters most is what Rose and the Bulls can accomplish on the court this season. And, if you watched Rose race through the Toronto defense Tuesday night, you got a small sampling of what he intends to do to opposing teams this season. Rose worked on improving his shooting range all summer, and he says he now has complete confidence in his ability to knock down 3-pointers. His mid-range jumper looks better than ever, and we know there isnt a defender in the league who can stay in front of him when hes got the ball in an open court situation.
You can figure Derrick will get off to a fast start this season while Carlos Boozer continues his rehab from a broken hand. Rose will be counted on to provide 18 to 24 points a night, and take the shots in clutch situations. New coach Tom Thibodeau wants his team to push the ball whenever possible, and theres not a faster guard in the league than Rose when it comes to speed off the dribble. Thibodeau is experimenting with playing 7-footers Joakim Noah and Omer Asik together, and the idea behind that is to dominate the defensive boards and create more blocked shots, sending Rose into the open court to attack outnumbered defenders on the fast break.
Right now, my list of the top 6 players in the league would be LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. After that, theres a larger group of star players that would include Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Pau Gasol, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Steve Nash. In my opinion, Rose is already part of that second group, and going into the 2011-12 season, he just might be ready to crack the top half dozen.
Watching Rose with the ball in the open court is the biggest treat for Bulls fans since the days of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. And, dont forget, Derrick just turned 22, so his best days are still ahead. It will be a lot of fun watching Rose and the Bulls continue to grow in the years ahead.
NOAH SHOWING HIS VERSATILITY
Another player poised to make a jump this season is 4th year center Joakim Noah. He almost put up a triple double in the pre-season win over Toronto, with 16 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assists. Noah is more confident and determined than ever after signing that long term contract extension with the Bulls. Forget about losing the desire to play hard once you receive the big money. Joakim is player harder than ever, running down loose balls and battling for every rebound on both ends of the floor.
Noah put in a lot time this summer with Thibodeau working on his offensive skills, and the work has obviously paid off. Noah showed a nice touch last season shooting jump hooks with either hand, and he became a lot more consistent knocking down the open 15 foot jump shot. This season, look for Noah to be used even more as a facilitator in the offense, both on the block and at the high post. He has tremendous passing skills for a big man, as evidenced by his beautiful backdoor feed to a cutting Rose for a twisting reverse lay-up against Toronto.
When Thibodeau goes with his big line-up playing Noah and Asik together, Joakims ability to run the floor and crash the offensive glass will become even more valuable. Noah probably wont boost his scoring average much, especially when Boozer returns to action in late November, but his all-around game should draw attention from Eastern Conference coaches when its time to pick All-Star reserves in February.
So, what do you think? Will the Bulls have two All-Stars this season? Will Rose be voted in by the fans as an All-Star starter? And, where do you think Rose ranks among the NBAs elite players?
Please post your comments in the section below. Only two weeks until opening night in Oklahoma City, so enjoy the rest of the pre-season.
Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNite, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10.