In only one NBA season, Derrick Rose accomplished something rare.
As a rookie point guard, Rose led the Chicago Bulls to the playoffs and emerged as his team’s most important player, which he will remain for the foreseeable future.
At only 20-years old, Rose was one of the main performers in a post-season drama that concluded as the best first round series in NBA history. The Bulls and Boston Celtics went toe-to-toe, seven games and seven overtimes deep before the Celtics won Game 7 by 109-99.
The humble, soft-spoken native of Chicago impressively elevated his game in the post-season after a regular season campaign that earned him Rookie-of-the-Year honors.
Rose’s points per game average went up from 16.8 to 19.7. His assists remained almost identical (6.3 before the playoffs and 6.4 during). But his rebounds escalated from 3.9 to 6.3.
And at six-foot three and 195 pounds, Rose’s size, strength and athleticism enabled him to make several spectacular plays on the defensive end.
Not surprisingly, facing a Celtics defense that even without Kevin Garnett was physical and intense, Rose’s turnovers doubled from 2.49 to 5.0 per game. Many of them were due more to his long stretches of tentativeness than Boston’s pressure.
Rose often over-passed instead of trusting his jumper, which is good but will get much better going into next season. He shot 47.5% from the field in the regular season and 49.2 % in the playoffs, excellent numbers for a point guard and exceptional for a first-year player learning the toughest position in basketball.
The crop of gifted young point guards in the Association is eye-opening. At the top are Chris Paul and Tony Parker, with Deron Williams, Devin Harris , Rose, Jameer Nelson, Rajon Rondo and Mo Williams nipping at their heels. Throw Rose’s fellow rookie Russell Westbrook in there if you want to and you’ll get no arguement here.
Spain’s 18-year-old soon to be lottery pick Ricky Rubio, the University of North Carolina’s Ty Lawson and college freshman to be John Wall from Raleigh, North Carolina, who unquestionably would be a top five pick in this June’s draft if high schooler’s were still allowed to make the jump straight to the NBA, are all candidates to join the club someday.
But Rose, the No.1 overall selection in last June’s draft, has already bloomed in Chicago.