Derrick Rose: Resurrection of a Superstar

When he has a huge night, Derrick Rose might be the only player in the league who makes basketball fans from the around the world happy no matter what team they cheer on. The youngest MVP in history is finally at his full health and doing his thing back on the floor. Given his work ethic and obsession with basketball, the results might be nowhere near surreal for him, though, it must still feel like truly a blessing.

As we are witnessing Rose have one of his best seasons so far, we wanted to delve into what makes this season his most enjoyable one to watch so far and be hopeful for what’s about to come next:

The 50-point Performance Against the Utah Jazz

After scoring a career-high of 50 points in a fierce overtime victory against the Jazz that came in just two weeks after 2018-19 season began, Derrick Rose was emotional during the post-game interview that capped off his historic night. When asked about what the victory and the performance meant for him, a teary-eyed Rose said: “(It means) everything. I work my ass off.”

Finishing the game with 19 of 31 shooting, he shot 4-of-7 from the 3-point range. Rose also scored 6 of his team’s last 7 points and blocked Dante Exum’s 3-point shot that could potentially tie the game at the buzzer.

He is putting up the best numbers since the MVP season

While this may remain perhaps the most memorable performance from him during the season thus far, it’s certainly not the only night when Rose came up big for his team. Averaging 18.2 points, 4.8 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in 28.5 minutes per game, Rose is having what is arguably his best season since the 2010-11 MVP season.

During his healthiest season yet (knock on wood), Rose has been able to find significant playing time as a member of the Timberwolves and even got a chance to start a few games when the starting point-guard Jeff Teague was out with injuries. In most of these games, Rose put up not only impressive numbers but also delivered gutsy performances down the stretch in several close games. The game-winner that he hit a month ago over Suns’ defender Mikal Bridges to finish the night with 31 points is a case in point.

After seeing Rose do this for several nights, it definitely has started to feel a lot less like we are watching flashbacks of a bygone great player, and more like we are witnessing him slowly become that great player once again. Although nobody expects him to be the MVP, Rose has already proven many people wrong with his return from several injuries and continues to do so by playing at such a high level. As long as he manages to stay healthy, it wouldn’t be shocking to see his next season be even better than this current season.

He’s Finally Healthy and Timberwolves are a Great Home for Him

Timberwolves might be where things are finally coming together for Rose. He’s been healthy and supported by his former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

Before he ended up in Minnesota, Rose led an indeterminate period, during which he bounced off between different teams in the midst of knee injuries that constantly plagued him. His first injury was a torn ACL in his left knee that took place in the first round of the 2012 playoffs with the Bulls facing the 76ers. The injury caused him to miss the remainder of the playoffs and the entire 2012-13 season. Although he returned to play for 2013-14, his season was cut short by a right meniscus injury at that time. Rose eventually got traded to the Knicks, and from there to the Cavaliers, but knee injuries still continued to bother him. He decided to leave the Cavaliers to re-evaluate his future in the NBA, which many people speculated to be his retirement.

He’s Mentally in a Good Space for Basketball

In an interview with Marc Spears of the Undefeated, Rose said: “Everyone has their own troubles. Everyone does things in their own time. I just had to understand who I am and what I stand for. I prioritized things.”

It’s an important reality in a professional athlete’s life to come to a point where they need to ask themselves if they still have the same passion for the game. But the question gets tricky and more difficult to answer when you’re a player who’s dealt with many injuries that placed your body at the risk of never being the same again. It would be an understatement to say that players go through a mix of emotions in those decisions.

There is no doubt that players from around the league who dealt with similar situations now feel inspired by Rose’s comeback. After Rose set a new career high for points, former Knicks guard Jeremy Lin tweeted: “Have a night DRose!! Inspiring for anyone who went through injuries (and more)!”

It’s an intense challenge to come back from an injury and play like your old self. For Rose, the process has been six to seven years of patience, training, and rehabilitation during the off-season.

His Jump Shot Has Shown Marked Improvement

One thing that is critical to his success and probably noticed by most fans is that his jump shot has significantly changed. Rose is now shooting the ball with a noticeably higher arch and balanced his explosive drives to the basket with an effective perimeter game. This season, he’s been making above 40-percent of his three-pointers. Rose’s new style of playing has significantly allowed him to contribute to his team’s success in a league that’s relying on the 3-point shot more than ever.

Although aggressive attacks to the rim are still the strongest part of his game, one would think that he’s now more cautious to avoid burdening his knees and ankles with too much pressure. It’s important to note that many of his injuries were a result of awkward lands from explosive lay-ups.

But regardless, Rose displays a fearless style of basketball and continues to inspire players and fans from around the world with his continued dedication for the game. With his new-found group and the organization, he’s having a good and healthy season. He looks to be in the perfect spot with all the opportunity he needs to give a serious shot for success in the playoffs.

  
Cem is a contributing sports writer from Istanbul, Turkey. He is interested in covering stories and themes related to the NBA and its players. This is also his mental refuge from Econ p-sets.