26 Feb Every Rose Has Its Thorn
“Every Rose Has its Thorn” was a classic power ballad of the 80’s band Poison. And just as Bret Michaels’ sang that song, we say the same thing for Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. For this Rose, that thorn is the injury bug. Over the past four seasons, Derrick Rose has suffered a strained back, sprained toe, groin injury, ankle injury, torn ACL, torn meniscus and hamstring injury. During the past four seasons, he’s played in just one thirds of the team’s total games and even missed the entire 2013 season. All of that happened after the magical 2011 season where he played in 99% of the Bulls’ games, led them to a 61 win season and won the NBA’s season MVP award.
Return to Title Picture
Rose’s 2015 season comeback was supposed to signal Chicago’s return to the NBA’s championship picture. The Bulls recruited Lakers’ big man Pau Gasol in the offseason, added blue chip rookie Nikola Mirotic and then got a solid back-up PG in Aaron Brooks. Tony Snell was coming off a strong summer league showing while Jimmy Butler emerged as a legitimate NBA All-star. Getting back D-Rose, the motor of their game, would have been the icing on the cake. Or at least they thought so.
Rose was in and out of the Bulls’ 2015 season, mostly for precautionary measures and at times due to minor injuries. Fans held their breath each time he got hit, each time he took a fall or seemed to hobble on the court. He looked spectacular at times but appeared brittle in many instances. Despite that, the Bulls did reach elite status this season. They are currently ranked #3 in the Eastern Conference with their 36-21 ( as of 2.24.15) record and are just one game shy of number two Toronto. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games and have won two straight games (as of 2.24.15). And then this, another serious knee injury. What happens to the Bulls next?
Producing But Not Effective
The Bulls are 7-4 (.636) without their MVP this season and are 29-17 (.630) with him on the floor, so there’s not much of a difference really. Statistically, the Bulls have an offensive efficiency of 105.7 points per 100 possessions when Rose is playing. They are 105.1 when they play without him. Same holds true for defense: Chicago holds down its opponents to 101.7 points with Derrick Rose but are a fraction better without him at 101.6. If you get the net effect of both efficiency readings, you’d get a +3.5 with him and +4.0 without him. Again, there is but a miniature difference in the Bulls’ output with or without D-Rose. So does this mean then that he wasn’t producing this season? The answer is no.
Although 2015’s been a career-low for him, Derrick Rose was averaging 18.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game before this latest injury. He was also making 3.1-3.8 (.814) free throws per game and nailing 1.6 three pointers per contest. However, he was struggling with his shots, making just .407 of his field goals and .287 of his three pointers. But that was expected, especially after the series of knee injuries he suffered and the number of games he’s missed in recent years. As also expected, his playing time dropped to a career low 31.0 minutes per game as the Bulls tried to break him in slowly. Despite those, Rose was still contributing a lot of stats. It was just that he wasn’t effective because he never really got into a continuity after going in and out of action. Rose was ranked just 33rd among NBA point guards in its RPM (real plus minus) stat which in the words of espn “estimates a player’s on-court impact on his team’s performance, taking into account teammates, opponents and additional factors”. In short, he was playing well c but was not effective enough to impact his team.
Jimmy Butler is the Bulls’ leading scorer at 20.3 PPG. When Rose sat out games, Butler scored 22.3 PPG. With Rose running the show, Jimmy’s been producing just 19.8 PPG. With Rose out for the rest of the season, Butler is expected to take up the cudgels once again and deliver.
Without Rose, Aaron Brooks is the likely starter for the Bulls. Brooks has been averaging 10.6 points and 2.7 assists this season backing up Rose. But if you look at his advanced stats, Brooks is averaging 19.2 points and 4.9assists per 36 minutes, meaning that if given Derrick Rose minutes, Brooks can produce just the same amount of output. And by the way, Brooks is shooting .434 from the field and .432 from the three point line. Aren’t those shooting numbers better than Rose’s? For the record, Rose had an offensive rating of 98 and a defensive rating of 108. Brooks is 105 and 107, respectively. So do the math there.
Lastly, Derrick Rose had a total of 1.4 win shares this season. Jimmy Butler (9.0), Pau Gasol (7.5), Taj Gibson (3.7), Joakim Noah (3.6), Nikola Mirotic (3.2), Mike Dunleavy (2.4), Aaron Brooks (2.2) and Tony Snell (1.7) had more. Again, this shows that the Bulls are more than just Derrick Rose this season. Coach Thibodeau has a deep line-up and rotation. All he has to do is play his cards right.
The Bulls will definitely miss Derrick Rose. But they should be fine playing without him the rest of the way.