If the anticipation for Derrick Rose making his comeback in an official NBA game for the Chicago Bulls wasn’t high enough, the former MVP decided to raise the stakes by declaring he’s the best player in the league, even though in truth, the Chicago Bulls don’t need him to be that good in order to be back where they were before his injury.
Less you forget, the Bulls finished with or tied for the best record in the league two consecutive years before Rose tore his ACL. He won the MVP in 2010-2011 after averaging 25 points and 7.7 assists per game, ending all debate about who the best point guard in the league is. It used to be Deron Williams or Chris Paul, with Rajon Rondo also getting a mention after the 2010 Finals. But Rose came out of nowhere.
In truth, he won that award because the LeBron James-bias in the media at the time. James was just as good as he has been previously for the Cavs and later for the Heat, but it was just about being lovable and likable; James wasn’t at the time, while the Bulls and Rose combined being the New kids on the Blocks with some nostalgia for those reminiscing on the 90’s Bulls’ superpower teams.
The next season was about struggling with injuries, but with or without him, the Bulls seemed good enough to challenge for the NBA title again. Rose himself dropping in scoring, but it seemed he was trying to become a more efficient point guard and actually focusing on making his teammates better, knowing that taking the game on himself all the time wasn’t the right equation to win the NBA title.
Every NBA superstar, and Rose is exactly that, even without one year of basketball to fall back on (until proven otherwise), should think he is the best in the league. While James is the actual best, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook are quite convinced that they are that good. Rose is no different, with the MVP award to prove it.
But the Bulls don’t need Rose at an MVP level to become the number 2 team in the East once again. Just having the presence of a point guard who generates a lot of attention from opposing defenses becomes a huge difference from last season. Nate Robinson had his moment when it came to scoring, but his weaknesses on defenses and inability to actually be a reliable play-caller hurt his chances of remaining with the team, and hurt the Bulls against more quality opponents.
Rose needs to be on the path he began in 2011-2012. Becoming the best point guard in the league, instead of the best player. There’s a difference, even though there doesn’t seem to be. The biggest problem for the Bulls against the Heat in 2011 was their offense completely shutting down, and Rose trying to do it all by himself, while James, Wade and Chalmers wore him down. For the Bulls to overcome that, they need to develop less dependency on Rose to score.
Last season was the beginning – playing without him. This year? It’ll be about keeping that same course, while Rose gets back on track and gets used to NBA life once again, he’ll also be focused on creating for others than actually proving he’s the best player in the league.