I still remember the day when I was voted Social Chair of my fraternity. I won by inspiring 75 other degenerates around the possibilities of more girls, booze, and parties and when it was all over, I was thrilled…… except for the fact that I ran against nobody. Yep, I won by default. So should I have really felt good about that one?
I’m confused. Despite being a life-long Chicago Bulls fans, the thought of Derrick Rose for MVP is still somewhat unsettling. Is anyone else running? Does anyone else really care? While Rose has had a fantastic season, he has yet to convince the masses that he is worthy of the recognition. Since coming into the league, Rose has become the NBA’s equivalent of America’s Sweetheart (who evidentially is now either Snookie or Natalie Portman), while being beloved by fans and fellow players alike, and always saying and doing the right thing. He has led the Bulls to 34-13, third best in the Eastern Conference, and done so with both Boozer and Noah out for at least a month. Moreover, after spending the entire summer working on his game, Rose has developed an efficient 3-point shot while reaching new statistical heights as a point guard by averaging 25 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. He is now arguably the best point guard in the NBA, and possesses a unique combination of speed and strength that the league has never seen.
So why the confusion? I don’t know – Is Derrick Rose really a Top 5 Player? Is he in the league of a Kobe, Lebron, or Wade? Part of me can’t help but think that with Wade and Lebron splitting possessions in Miami, and Kobe on cruise control until the playoffs, Rose is the default selection. Don’t get me wrong, as a Bulls fan, I am pulling for him, but I can’t help but question his candidacy? Aside from the aforementioned “Big 3”, Dwight Howard is struggling with a mediocre supporting cast, Nowitzki has been injured for a large part of the season, and Durant has actually been overshadowed by Russell Westbrook for most of the first half. The only other candidate is Chris Paul, but even the Hornets have had their ups and downs.
Additionally, there are still some glaring weaknesses in Rose’s overall game. For one, he averages few FT attempts for a guy who attacks the basket as often as he does, partly attributed to his lack of respect by the officials, but also because of his propensity to contort his body and avoid contact at all costs. Second, despite significant improvement, Rose still remains somewhat of a mediocre defender. He often gets burned by quicker point guards and is nowhere close to being named 1st or 2nd team defense anytime soon. So is he really convincing as MVP?
The flip side is that should the Bulls win 55 games, capture at least the #2 seed, and Rose maintains his statistical pace, he will make a very strong case. The Bulls do not have a true #2 player – a guy who can alleviate offensive pressure during key moments throughout the game. While Boozer has shown scoring proficiency, he has the inability to create his own shot, and has historically struggled against big forwards, something that he is bound to face should the Bulls meet with the Celtics, Hawks, or Magic in the playoffs. All of the other role players on the Bulls rely heavily upon Rose’s penetration to create shots for them. So consider the fact that Rose is competing with a lack of a true #2 sidekick, injuries to the Bulls 2nd and 3rd best players, and a potential two or three seed? The argument becomes much more compelling.
Should Rose win the MVP, he will become only the 3rd player under 6’3 to do so (Steve Nash and Allen Iverson being the others). He still has an opportunity to put his stamp on the award. Stay tuned.