This past season was supposed to be all about #TheReturn and how Derrick Rose was finally making his way back on the hardwood after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament April 28, 2011. The Chicago Bulls were supposed to be valid contenders for the NBA Finals with their MVP leading the way. The Eastern Conference wasn’t expected to be a two-team race between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat. But, just like that, an all too familiar feeling overcame Chicago just 11 games into the regular season.
It was in the evening of Nov. 22 that the Bulls were facing the Portland Trail Blazers on their annual circus trip, and it was a close game. At about the 3:30 mark of the third quarter, Chicago’s world (unofficially) came tumbling down, as Rose was seen limping down the court trying to get back on defense after Nicolas Batum stole a pass from Joakim Noah.
Three days later, it was official: Rose was out for the season, again. Unlike last season however, Bulls fans weren’t left pondering on whether or not Rose would be on the bench in a suit or in warm-ups like his other teammates, but that didn’t make it any more difficult.
Rose’s season was defined by this injury, and, unfortunately, some people have even gone as far as to have these past two knee injuries to define his career. That’s not to say they’re wrong, but who’s to say they’re right? Either way, it was still clear that Rose was the star of the team, even in only 11 games (10 of which he played in) and even with those games being his first ones in over a year.
Behind Carlos Boozer’s 16.2 points per game, Rose’s 15.9 points per game was the second most for the team prior to his injury, and, it’s difficult to forget his game winner in Chicago’s home opener, its second game of the season, against New York to take the 82-81 victory on Halloween.
Rose also averaged 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 31.1 minutes of play. His 3.4 turnover average is pretty high, and his shooting percentages of 35.4 from the field and 34.0 on threes could have used some work, but it’s important to consider how Rose was still readjusting back to the feel and pace of competitive NBA basketball. It’s because of that, as well as another season-ending injury, it seems somewhat unfair to even grade him, as he wasn’t quite himself yet nor was he entirely reacquainted with it all, but Rose still showed he could compete in quality minutes.
So while Rose wasn’t quite the dominant player he had previously been (not yet anyway), he was still able to do pretty well considering all he had been through. The only significant problems were turnovers. In his first five games, he committed as little as four turnovers and as many as eight; however, from then on, he had two turnover-less games and, at the most, committed four turnovers.
It’s obvious Rose still needed more time to readjust, but in 10 games, he was still able to prove that this was his team. It’s just unfortunate that the progress had to come to a halt and everyone had to revert back to a Rose-less Bulls team.
Final Grade: B+