Word out of Chicago is that Derrick Rose is no stranger to saying things like he did the other day, which made headlines across the basketball world. In essence, Rose compared the Knicks to the Golden State Warriors in that he feels the Knicks have also built a "super team." In order for the Knicks to be "super" Rose, himself, has to be superlative, and judging from his confidence, he just may end up being healthy enough to be that good.
We've seen Rose's best, but can Rose return to the Russell Westbrook-esque athlete he was as a young player in the NBA? That remains to be seen, but if he does the league needs to watch out.
Young Derrick Rose, the player who won MVP in 2011, was one of the players you paid to see play. He was a highlight every night, and the thing that blew you away was the combination of athleticism and strength with the ball. We've talked about his impact off the drive, a category that the Knicks were ranked near-dead last in last year. Rose averaged 8.9 drives per game, per NBA Stats, which just started tracking drives in 2013-14. He was flat unguardable off the dribble in 2011.
Rose's drive ability in 2015-16 was similarly explosive, but his added pull-up game gives him an added arsenal off the bounce and this is key to saving wear and tear on his legs. Rose averaged 5.3 points per game off of 6.7 pull-up jumpers per contest, shooting 39 percent. Rose has lost more than a bit of athleticism impacting him at the rim.
In 2011 he had 32 dunks, while last year he had just one, which tells you last year he was conserving and trying to rebuild strength back into his legs. Another potentially negative sign is the fact he shot just 51 percent inside three feet, down 10 percent from 2011 when he shot 61 percent. This coincides with what we've said as it relates to the need to improve free throw attempts a few weeks back. If he can add the finish-to-the-drive ability in 2016-17, the Knicks will thrive and judging from highlights last year that ability is still in there.
Another element that needs to be considered is how Rose fits into the triangle. What the Knicks need from Rose is for the ball not to "stick," which could be a challenge, but judging from his usage numbers (27.3 percent) last year Rose spent more time without the ball in his hands than in previous years, according to basketball-reference.com.
Rose has a career 28.2 percent with a career high 32.2 percent in his MVP season of 2011. If Rose can learn to cut off of post entry passes, he will merge perfectly with Carmelo Anthony when Melo needs to be featured in the post. Both Melo and Kristaps Porzingis combined for five post touches per game and 9.5 pinch post touches, per NBA stats. Adding Joakim Noah to that mix will increase the chances for Rose to have plays like this next year.
Knicks fans would love to see Rose, 27, return to the athletic freak that dominated the NBA off the dribble after coming out of Memphis. What they are getting is a less athletic version, who has added a very solid mid-range and floater game that can be very effective in the triangle.
What they've also added is a player who, if he can simple cut when he doesn't have the ball, can find himself the benefactor of great passing from Noah, Porzingis and Anthony, who will be looking to add more easy baskets to a team that struggled mightily getting them this past season.