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Rants and Raves: Rose no MVP
There seems to be an increasing consensus that Derrick Rose deserves to be named MVP. While one game doesn’t represent a season, Chicago’s 96-91 loss in Charlotte on Wednesday night fully demonstrated both Rose’s strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly how vitally important he is in the Bulls’ game plan.
Although his jumper has improved dramatically this season, Rose attempted only two from mid-range (2-2) and one from long-range (0-1). One jumper connected off a pull right, the other on a catch-and-shoot. His other 14 shots were either layups or flippers, and overall he tallied 17 points on 5 of 17 from the field.
Penetrating is still his primary weapon to either score or rack up drive-and-kick assists. Rose’s power and speed come together in his incredible ability to quickly change direction and then explode into the lane with absolutely no fear. Twice he zipped his way through a gang of defenders, first for a resounding dunk, and then a complicated layup-plus-one.
Rose’s stroke from the stripe (7 for 7) is both smooth and soft. He’s also relatively unselfish (7 assists) and sees the court fairly well.
On defense Rose shows great range and admirable toughness. Twice he was forced to switch on to Stephen Jackson, who immediately backed his way into the pivot. Rose refused to give ground, forcing Jackson to take a pair of difficult shots — one of which he badly missed, the other a successful turnaround and step-back jumper.
And when the game was on the line, Rose wanted the ball
At the other end of the court, D. J. Augustin repeatedly torched Rose in face-to-face confrontations, getting 14 of his 22 points, mostly on tricky drives to the rim. That’s because Rose relies mostly on his athleticism on defense. His posture is too upright and his intensity is definitely low-key.
Moreover, Rose was confounded by virtually every high screen that was placed in his way. He went under one such screen only to watch helplessly as Augustin dropped a three-ball. Otherwise, Rose either switched or simply crashed into the screener, thereby creating disadvantageous situations or absolutely taking himself out of the play.
On several sequences Rose lost his man while playing off-the-ball defense and literally had to turn in a full circle to find him.
The Bobcats’ defensive game plan was to double-team Rose as much as possible, on the wing and especially on screen-rolls. With the ball forced out of his hands, Rose never got comfortable on offense. Plus his passes out of double-teams were often fluttery and occasionally picked off.
Out of sheer frustration, Rose uncharacteristically tried to force his way to the rim. The result was a week’s worth of ill-advised flippers (0-3) and missed layups (six), three of which were swatted.
Unfortunately Rose still is making the same poor decisions with the ball in the paint as he did as a rookie. In the last minute of play he missed a layup, missed a floater, then had a misguided pass intercepted.
So, what to make of this young man’s MVP chances?
For sure, he’s carried the Bulls for the entire season, averaging 24.2 points and 8.0 assists while leading them to a more-than-respectable 25-13 record. But for all of Carlos Boozer’s numbers, Chicago misses Joakim Noah’s mobility on both offense and defense. Moreover, the Bulls also need another creative scorer to take the pressure off of Rose.
Despite playing perhaps his worst game of the season, there’s no doubt that Rose is extremely talented. However, he’s still 22 and learning what he can and cannot do at this level.
His value to the Bulls is easily determined — when he plays poorly they usually lose, when he plays well they invariably win. There’s no question that Rose is Chicago’s MVP.
But until Rose develops more consistency on defense and can differentiate between good and bad shots, the NBA MVP should go to somebody else — like Dwyane Wade.
Talent aside, there are essentially two kinds of players in the NBA: losers and winners. Losers offer too many nonsensical opinions, don’t always play hard and rarely deliver in clutch situations. Winners are clutch guys who truly understand the game and never take a play off, regardless of how the game or season is unfolding.
Here are the leaders in each category:
Carmelo Anthony — Too often a no-show.
Carlos Boozer — At his worst in close games vs. elite teams.
Vince Carter — One of the most inefficient clutch players.
Omri Casspi — Leads the league in missed layups.
Baron Davis — An incredible waste of incredible talent.
T. J. Ford — Shoots too much and at inopportune times.
Al Harrington — Spends his solo gym time serenading the basket by singing “I Only Have Eyes For You.”
Spencer Hawes — Mr. Softee.
Josh Howard — Even when he’s healthy, tends to disappear in the clutch.
Antawn Jamison — Like the Klingons, has mastered the art of invisibility.
Kenyon Martin — Comes up small in big games.
Dirk Nowitzki — Has yet to take over at the end of a closely contested game deep into the playoffs.
Jermaine O’Neal — Specializes in missing critical shots.
Josh Smith — Gets the least out of the most.
Jason Terry — Comes up short-handed when victories in important playoff games are within reach.
Mo Williams — A 36-minute threat.
Ray Allen — A clutch shooter, as long as he doesn’t have to exhaust himself trying to guard Kobe.
Chauncey Billups — Even though he’s losing his edge, is still dangerous whenever a game is on the line.
DeJuan Blair — Nobody plays harder.
Kobe Bryant — Still tends to go off on selfish sprees, yet remains the game’s most reliable clutch scorer and the best player in the universe.
Glen Davis — Plays his best in must-win situations.
Tim Duncan —Still dependable in the clutch.
Derek Fisher — The new/old Mr. Big Shot.
Manu Ginobili — Go left, young man … and leave defenders in the dust.
Kirk Hinrich — A closer.
David Lee — A perpetually hustling rebound-machine.
Steve Nash — Never gives less than his all.
Paul Pierce — The go-to scorer on a team of clutch players.
Dwyane Wade — Provides the most essential heat in Miami.