Derrick Rose is the most valuable player for the Chicago Bulls if they want to win a NBA championship this year.
Yep, I said it all right.
Now before everyone jumps on me and criticizes that statement, let me explain my thought process.
There’s no denying that Jimmy Butler is the best player on the Bulls right now, and rightfully so. So far this season, Butler is averaging 22 points per game along with four rebounds and five assists. Just last Sunday, Butler exploded for 42 points, 40 of which came in the second half, as the Bulls rallied to beat the Toronto Raptors 115-113. These past few weeks have been tremendous for Butler, and he’s playing himself into the MVP conversation (at least the top five of MVP voting. We all know Steph Curry is winning it at this point).
But here’s the thing about the NBA: one guy cannot carry you to a championship. In the NFL, usually the team with the best quarterback is going to lead their team to the championship. Only a few men (Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, etc.) have won Super Bowls without being a top quarterback in the league.
The NBA, however, is different. You need two or three top stars to win the title every year. The only exception to the rule in the past 15 years is the 2004 Detroit Pistons, who won with a lot of good, but not great, players. Every other team, though, has had at least one Hall of Fame level player, if not more.
You know what you’re getting with Jimmy Butler. He plays great defense, will get about 20-25 point a game, and is going to be the guy who takes most of the big shots down the stretch. But, if you’re a Bulls fan, you have to know that one player cannot take down the beast known as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Take a look back at the 2010-11 season. The Bulls were the number one seed, Derrick Rose was lighting up the league en route to the MVP, and they cruised their way into an Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the Miami Heat. In game one of that series, the Bulls won by 31. They were dominant, and it looked as if they were on their way to a Finals appearance. Four games later, they were out of the playoffs completely. Why? Because they were a one-player team.
The other starters that year for the Bulls were Keith Bogans, Luol Deng, Carols Boozer, and Joakim Noah. While Deng and Noah have been All-Stars, they were not at the elite level that was needed to take down the Heat at that point. Even with the great bench the Bulls had that year, they had no chance of winning once LeBron would guard Rose in the fourth quarter of each game.
That is why Derrick Rose is vital for this season for the Bulls. Over the past couple of weeks, we have been seeing the Derrick Rose of old. Since cutting his hair and taking off that hideous mask, he’s been attacking the rim more instead of shooting jump shots, which was what won Rose the MVP back in 2010-11. Earlier in the year, he was showing flashes of his old self. Now, however, he’s being more consistent of it.
Him attacking the rim has also opened up for floor for guys like Butler, Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic, and even Pau Gasol to knock down their jump shots. Rose has become a dynamic enough of a player where opposing teams have to respect his driving ability, and this leaves those guys wide open to hit their shots. It’s no surprise Gasol’s numbers have been getting better at the same time Rose’s have.
Also, I think the fans of Chicago need to lower the expectations of Rose. Simply put, he’s never going to play at that MVP level again. He has suffered way too many injuries to ever be that player ever again. Instead, you have to look at him for what he is now: he’s averaging 15 points and five assists per game. The last time he scored in single digits was December 21, and he’s averaged 19.6 points in the last five games he’s played. If your second player scored nearly 20 points per game the rest of the season, you’d take that.
The key with Rose, as always, is his health. He did miss three games recently, so the Bulls are going to have to take extra care of their point guard so that way he can be ready to go for the postseason. He’s averaging just under 33 minutes per game, which is a good pace to have him at. They should also have certain pre-set rest days for him so that way he can take care of his body before the playoffs start in April.
Simply put, the Bulls need Derrick Rose more than people realize, and he is just as important to the Bulls winning a title as Jimmy Butler. If both Rose and Butler are playing at elite levels in the playoffs, then the Bulls have a chance to finally conquer the one person they haven’t been able to conquer: LeBron James.
Thanks for reading. Make sure to check out the other blogs I’ve posted, and stay tuned as I go more in-depth on all the things going on in the sports world. This is Game of Sports.