Fading Rose a key concern as Bulls enter playoffs

If Derrick Rose continues to play like he has over the past month-and-a-half, the Chicago Bulls have little to no chance of barging into the NBA Finals

Screenshot from YouTube, 'Derrick Rose's Top 10 Plays of the 2011 Season' by NBA

MANILA, Philippines – Let’s get this straight: If Derrick Rose continues to play like he has over the past month-and-a-half, the Chicago Bulls have little to no chance of barging into the NBA Finals.

The reigning league Most Valuable Player has been hobbling all season, missing 27 games due to a variation of injuries — ankle, groin, back, you name it — after only being out for 5 in his first 3 seasons.
 
Feeding off adrenaline, the rest of the Bulls rose to the challenge and were still able to clinch the league’s best record at 50-16, in a tie with the streaking San Antonio Spurs.
 
Second-year coach Tom Thibodeau has masterfully orchestrated this team into going 20-7 without their prized point guard.
 
And with Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and even Kyle Korver and John Lucas stepping up at different points, Chicago enters the playoffs with homecourt advantage all throughout the postseason.
 
Numbers down
 
Thibodeau’s wizardry has probably earned him a rare second straight Coach of the Year while the Bulls’ overall efficiency even without Rose has cast doubts on whether the 23-year-old was actually the most valuable player in the NBA last season.
 
Aside from a miniscule spike in assists (+0.3), Rose’s numbers have gone down across the board.
 
He’s shooting the worst field goal percentage (43.5%) of his career even as Chicago continued its ascent to the Everest of the regular season.
 
Rose has played in only 5 of the Bulls’ past 22 games, averaging 15.2 points, 7.2 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 4.0 turnovers (including stinkers of seven and eight turnovers against Detroit and New York, respectively) in 33 minutes. He has shot an anemic 32.1%, even going 1-of-13 in a win over archrival Miami.
 
Despite their playmaker’s struggles, the Bulls went 4-1 in that stretch, only dropping a 100-99 decision to the Knicks after a signature clutch performance by Carmelo Anthony, who scored the last five points in overtime and finished with 43 markers.
 
‘Not worried’
 
Rose downplays his roller-coaster season and just said that all that matters to him is to be prepared for the postseason grind.
 
“I’m not worried about my stats,” Rose shared after triumphing over the Heat in April 12. “I’m just trying to get my rhythm to get ready for the playoffs, get my timing back. Tonight, my shots were not falling, but my teammates had my back and we got a win.”
 
Yes, Chicago has thrived in adversity this season. They have shown that they can still be winners even with Rose sidelined and in street clothes. And they have a heck of a coach and a solid roster of cagers who can make things possible.
 
But if the Bulls are to make a significant push in the playoffs, they need Rose to be healthy and aggressive to go beyond the second round and spoil the Heat’s bid for the Larry O’ Brien trophy come June.
 
For now, though, that seems too much to be asked of the young superstar. – Rappler.com

Josiah Israel Albelda is a 23 year-old teacher, sports journalist, graphic designer and entrepreneur. He works his tail off 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, loves the thrill of taking on challenges and plans to retire at the age of 30. The opinions expressed in this article are his own.