So far, this season has been an incredible comeback year for Derrick Rose. The former MVP has had a rough couple of years after suffering multiple lower body injuries. But, it appears that Rose has returned to his former self. Well, maybe not MVP level, but at the very least he is a major contributor for a good team. He has already scored a career-high 50 points in a game to go along with a 31 and 28 point game this season. Now the question is the Derrick Rose comeback a real thing or is it just a flash in the plan. I believe it’s legitimate for a few reasons.
Why Rose is Once Again an Elite Scorer
Before this season the best Rose ever shot from three was 34%. Now he’s shooting 46% from three. He has had multiple great games from three including a Timberwolves’ franchise record 7 threes in one game. This newfound success from behind the arc is extremely promising. His shot looks really good and he’s not being forced to create too many of these looks. Currently, Rose’s teammates have assisted 67% of his 3 point shots. This means he’s not taking too many off the dribble threes, which are hard to make consistently. It is very possible Rose continues to shoot north of 40% from three and increases his value as an offensive player.
His improved shooting has also made him a more efficient player. His effective field goal percent is currently a career-high 51.5%, a full 2% higher than his previous career high of 49.5% in 2009-10. This efficiency is reflected in his points per game per 36 minutes. In fact, his PPG per 36 is the second highest of his career right behind his MVP season. This year Rose is averaging 23.4 points per game per 36 minutes. He’s already playing 28 minutes per game, but a slight bump in playing time would likely increase his scoring output as well.
Since many people frown upon per 36 stats, let’s look at his stats with games under 5 minutes played removed. So far, in games, he has played more than 5 minutes he is averaging 20.2 points. He is currently the second highest scorer on the Timberwolves behind only Jimmy Butler, and when he is inevitably traded Rose could be the top scorer. The two young players expected to step up, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, have looked uncomfortable in the spotlight. If Rose continues to shoot the ball at a high rate there is no question he’s the best scorer on the team.
Derrick Rose Season Stats: 18.6 PPG (46/46/80), 3.5 RPG, 4.6 APG
Looking past averages Rose has also had incredible individual performances. Last night against the Lakers he had 31 points and 7 threes. This game was incredible to watch, but there was another game that topped it. His 50-point outburst against the Jazz. Not only was this a career-high for Rose, but it was against the team that waived him last year. He embarrassed the reigning DPOY, Rudy Gobert, with a variety of finishes at the basket. He looked confident in his shot while he hit clutch bucket after clutch bucket. The fact that Derrick Rose can still have performances prove he can still be a number one option. The flashy passes and explosiveness seem to have returned, but he no longer relies on them.
Rose has become a much better player than when he was young. The only problem is he no longer has the same athleticism that made him an MVP candidate. Now he is a smarter player and is enjoying the lowest turnover percentage and turnovers per 100 possessions of his career. Also, even though he is still explosive, Rose’s improved shooting makes him less reliant on athleticism. He is able to hit step-back jumpers, hit midrange shots if the big man plays back on a screen, and knock down threes with consistency.
The whole world wishes Rose never suffered any of his major injuries, but he has found a way to succeed in spite of them. He seems to be a smarter player who knows his limits and has been able to improve his shot immensely. Although the Wolves probably want to further develop Towns and Wiggins as scorers Rose has been way better than them this season. Maybe he won’t win another MVP, but there is no doubt that Rose is on the path for an incredible comeback story.