Rose's All-Star status vital to Bulls' future
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The Bulls just became a big time player in the 2010 free agency sweepstakes.
Perhaps they were before with likely enough salary cap room to pay a maximum contract once they make another deal, one of the nation’s three largest markets—which appeals to advertisers and shoe companies—and a franchise with six championships and the legacy of Michael Jordan as tradition.
But now Chicago is likely to seem more appealing because the Bulls have an official star.
Derrick Rose Thursday was selected by the Eastern Conference coaches to fill out the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the big weekend and game in Dallas Feb. 14.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Derrick.
Chicago loves you.
Now the Eastern coaches do, and soon the entire NBA world will too.
Don’t minimize this. Rose’s selection is a significant moment in the history of the Bulls franchise.
There only have been 12 All-Stars in the history of the franchise: Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Guy Rodgers, Jerry Sloan, Bob Boozer, Chet Walker, Bob Love, Norm Van Lier, Artis Gilmore, Reggie Theus, B.J. Armstrong and Horace Grant.
Rose is the youngest Bull ever to be an All-Star.
And in some respects, Rose will be the one of the most seen players of All-Star weekend with a triple play of participation playing in the rookie/sophomore game, defending his title in the skills challenge and playing in the Sunday special.
What’s been extraordinary about Rose’s accomplishment is that it is coming in his second season in the NBA, and having just turned 21 years old, Rose is becoming the team’s scoring leader by necessity and carrying the team down the stretch in games, like on this Western Conference road trip.
Rose had 26 points and seven assists in Wednesday’s impressive win in Oklahoma City, punctuating the game with a two handed tomahawk slam dunk that had Thunder players on the court standing and watching. Rose is taking over games at a time defenses are doing all they can to stop him, and making spectacular finishes, like that blast off, elevating dunk against the Suns to start the Bulls current four-game road winning streak.
Rose is averaging 19.8 points and 5.9 assists on the season. But how about this run during the trip:
Suns: 32 points, five assists and one turnover
Rockets: 20 points, four assists and four turnovers
Spurs: 27 points, six assists and zero turnovers
Thunder: 26 points, seven assists and two turnovers
In the last 20 games since before Christmas, Rose is averaging 23.8 points and 6.4 assists. The Bulls have won 12 of the last 17, and it’s impressive for a point guard, and one so young, to also take on the responsibility of being the team’s leading scorer.
I won’t say who since he’s got to play against those point guards, but I was talking to a coach during this trip and he said, “Rose is going to be the best point guard in the league. If he’s not already.”
Now, that’s strong stuff with the likes of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Steve Nash and Tony Parker. But that’s how much Rose is impressing coaches all over the NBA.
And why it’s so vital to the team’s future, particularly with free agency.
Now you can say to a free agent like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh that you don’t have to worry about the pressure so much if you come to Chicago because there’s another legitimate star there.
It will be a major step when Rose shows up in Dallas with LeBron and Kobe and Carmelo and Dirk and KG and Bosh and Howard and Paul and he’s one of them.
That also helps put Rose in line for serious consideration for the USA Basketball team, which goes to Turkey this summer for the World Championships.
It’s the most exclusive club in the world, the elite of NBA stars, and Rose will be a member.
And those guys look to play with one another.
Because they know when there’s a star with them they have a better chance to succeed. And it may be even more special to have a star who plays point guard. It’s probably best to join a star who is a center, like a young Shaq. But there aren’t those kinds of big men in the NBA anymore, perhaps with the exception of Howard. And he’s no Shaq.
But not only can Rose carry a team for a time, but he’ll make plays for other players. At heart, Rose is a point guard and will happily share the ball. He scores because he has to because that’s what’s best for the team and what the team needs.
It’s one thing to say your team has a point guard who’ll pass and find the open man. It’s a whole different neighborhood to say you will be with a point guard, but one who can take over and be the scoring star if he has to. What a one/two punch that could be.
It’s wonderful for Rose to reach that elite level so quickly and burnish his credentials as an NBA star. But it’s a major step as well for a franchise trying to reestablish itself after more than a decade as capable of competing with the league’s best.
It’s been tough to get one star, as the Bulls know. When you have one, it seems easier to get another. The Bulls officially have one again. It’s been a long wait. But perhaps it’s just the beginning.
Follow Sam Smith on Twitter at SamSmithHoops.