Rose takes step towards perennial spot among the elite
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Scottie Pippen are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the team or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors.
In only his third season, Derrick Rose has been voted on as a starter in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game. Along with Miami’s Dwyane Wade, he’ll start in the backcourt for the Eastern Conference in Los Angeles on Feb. 20. It’s another great accomplishment for one of Chicago’s own; but more importantly, it shows that Derrick continues to steadily improve as a player.
As a second year player, Derrick was named as a reserve last season and that more or less was the breaking of the ice for him. It was an opportunity for him to make the team and get a feel for what it’s like to be an All-Star. This season, he’s taken another huge step forward, proving he’s one of the elite guards in the game and a part of the NBA MVP discussion. It says a lot about the type of work he has put in developing his game.
While Derrick has tremendous talent and a personal drive second to none, I keep going back to the experience he gained with USA Basketball last summer as a significant part of why he’s enjoyed so much success. To be able to compete internationally with some of the other top young talent in the NBA helped him grow a great deal. As a result, his game has come full circle and he’s a much better all-around player, even on defense. You can see that he has a different swagger about himself and his abilities. It’s one of those intangibles that superstars have got to have.
Derrick isn’t the only player from last summer’s Team USA that won gold at the FIBA World Championship to elevate his game. Kevin Durant is once again leading the NBA in scoring and has been voted on as a starting forward for the Western Conference. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love are having career years and both make a strong case to be named as All-Star reserves. Eric Gordon and Rudy Gay have also taken steps forward with great seasons so far.
The key about playing internationally is the confidence that you gain. Not only do you train with some of the best players in the NBA, but you compete against some of the best players in the world. It allows young players like Derrick to measure up against some high level competition and expand their games on a global stage. For guys who are in their young 20s playing at such a high level in the offseason is great to see—not only is it good for the player, but it’s good for his team and the NBA. Derrick is now as confident as ever as a player. He’s also better positioned to lead and run his team.
In 1994, Scottie Pippen affirmed his place among the league's elite when his 29 points, 11 rebounds, and four steals led the East to victory at the 44th annual NBA All-Star Game in Minneapolis.
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
Being named as an NBA All-Star started just adds fuel to the fire. It’s another accolade for Derrick that shows he’s on the same level as players like Kobe, LeBron, Durant and Wade. That being said, I think Derrick understands his position and where he is headed within the game of basketball. But this does reinforce to him that he’s on the right track to achieve some of his goals and dream of becoming the very best player in the game.
He’s already shown dramatic growth from last season and amazing things almost every time he takes to the court. We don’t know what else a player like Derrick has in store for us in the future. But between what he’s accomplished at a young age in winning a gold medal and now having a very successful team in which the Bulls had a great first half, it’s a blessing for him as a player. It’s what he’s worked hard for and a lot of players don’t reach those heights, let alone at an early age. Not everyone in the league gets to travel upon such an enjoyable journey to arrive at pinnacles like that or become an elite player in the game. That’s why it’s so fulfilling to watch Derrick night in and night out. At the end of the day, he’s still just a young player with a great future ahead of him.
As a young player, achieving All-Star status isn’t as easy as you might think. Naturally, you measure yourself up against the competition. You strive to be the best and expect nothing less than. But other factors come in to play, whether you are voted as a starter or selected by the coaches as a reserve. Either way, it never gets easy to get back to being an All-Star. With the fans voting, you hope that they always pick the right players, but sometimes that doesn’t happen, regardless of how well you’ve played.
My point is that becoming an elite player who is considered to be a perennial All-Star can’t be taken for granted. The fans determine who gets those starting positions, so there are only ten players in the entire league—five from each conference—who have the honor of being selected. For me, it was a bit of a relief once I was able to achieve that, because as a player, you know that you belong there.
To a degree, it’s about paying your dues as a young player in the NBA. But it’s also about the other great players who are ahead of you and have made their mark on the game. So when you think about Derrick being named as a reserve last year, maybe it wasn’t his time yet to be a starter. But it’s here now. He’s having the best season of his young career and letting everyone know he’s the best point guard in the game, someone who could be an Eastern Conference starter for many years to come.