Around the NBA: 12/27/10
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No one, except for Joe Piscopo on SNL and Lady Gaga were great, absolutely supreme, coming out of the gate. While the former didn't sustain greatness and we're still waiting to see if the latter is beamed directly up to Pluto, it's rare that an NBA player is drafted and sets the league afire shortly after posing with Commissioner Stern. Exceptions (LeBron) exist, but players take the natural progression of steps, on a variance of levels, going from horrible to mediocre, mediocre to decent, decent to good, good to great.
Derrick Rose's play in the first third of the NBA season could be described as valuable, as in one of the most valuable players in the league to his respective team. I'm not ready to put on the white gloves and hand the award to Rose, but the progress he's made from year two to year three has been monumentally dramatic.
Rose's first two seasons could best be described as shifty and explosive as an offensive player. While most believe Rose's first step was the quickest in the league (most people would be correct), it's his ability to shake defenders off the ball that makes him such an irritant for defenders poorly attempting to guard him. Rose had the explosiveness to get to the basket, had the muscle to force up shots amidst the bigs, but would he be able to develop a shot, good heavens a three point shot of any competence?
In short: yes.
Coming into the season Rose mentioned how he had worked tirelessly on his shot during the off-season, which in turn was not much of an off-season seeing the time he spent with Team USA, but that's another shard of glass in my Corn Flakes altogether. Would Rose fall madly in love with this new facet to his game like Wild Thing Vaughn did with his off-speed stuff and betray what buttered his bread? Would the shot rear its ugly head at inopportune times? Could developing a shot hurt his confidence of getting to the basket?
These were all fair questions for those with nothing else to worry about, but Rose has done a superb job of peppering in the shot as just another facet of his game. He hasn't been overly reliant on it, but he has the confidence in his shot when defenders are backing off of him.
Rose's offensive medley of sorts has played nicely with a consistent, yet improved ability to steal passes. Not blessed with the wingspan of a small forward, Rose jumps the passing lane by jumping up and picking off errant passes from unsuspecting forwards trying to outlet the ball down the court.
His maturation as a player has made the Bulls one of the extremely fun teams to watch this season and a wild card of sorts who could ruin the googly-eyed matchup most television executives yearn for in a Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference Finals.
The larger question that persists after all the good-will and basketball excitement Rose creates with his play is how many times can a team where it's best player, and more importantly, its best scorer play the point guard position and win in the NBA?
Not win on the level of, "See you in the conference semi-finals. It's been real fun and we'll bow out gracefully now," that Chris Paul and Deron Williams have done with their respective teams. We're talking big picture, win a Larry O'Brien or two, or even three if things work out accordingly.
If history is any indication, the answer is a mixed bag. Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Tim Duncan (Tony Parker won the Finals MVP Award, but Duncan was still the best player on his team) and Dwyane Wade were the best players on their respective teams that won the NBA Championship in the past five seasons. Wade is the only one who could be confused for a point guard because of how much ball handling he does, but the other players were scorers first and foremost. They didn't take on the additional duty of trying to get shots for others. If anything their ability to score the basket (thank you Hubie) forced additional defenders to sag off their guy and double the aforementioned future Hall-of-Famers.
Rose is a different monster though, which leads me to believe he can be both the best scorer and best player on a championship team. His ability to get to the basket and the mix of achy-breaky post moves makes him a headache to guard. The incorporation of a consistent jump shot into his game adds another layer to his complexities as a player. Those types of complexities can carry him and a more than competent supporting cast of very good players to great heights in the next few years.
Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.