Derrick Rose has come a long way since his 2012 ACL tear. He’s currently having his best season since at least 2016, if not 2011, and is coming off of a career-high 50-point night last night against the Utah Jazz.
He’s recently made public his goal to win the Sixth Man of the Year award, but with him averaging almost 20 points now off the bench for the Timberwolves, what’s keeping him from becoming a starter in Minnesota?
Rose vs. Teague
Jeff Teague–who usually takes the floor initially with Rose as a backup–is averaging not-quite 13 points per game on the season and 5 assists per game. He’s a good point guard, but Rose averages more points and just as many assists when he comes in off the bench.
The two guards are the same age but the obvious concern with Rose taking the helm is his more-fragile health. A sidelining injury would be as emotionally debilitating as it would be logistically, and in some ways placing Rose in the starting lineup or giving him too many minutes would be asking for trouble.
If he can stay healthy though–and he may, he’s learned his lesson about over-exertion–Rose could be a productive starter and effective leader on the floor for the Timberwolves.
Proving His Worth
Rose has proven his worth so far this season, playing better and more like himself than he has in years.
He’s putting up numbers akin to his MVP season, but besides the numbers, he just looks better. The past few years have had him walking on eggshells but so far this season he’s playing aggressively and comfortably. He doesn’t look so afraid of getting hurt. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t yet. His value is indisputable when he plays at this level.
Besides his obvious skill and experience, his tough emotional journey has given him a maturity and perspective that was missing in his younger days. He’s much more composed now–if a bit less explosive, though that’s probably a good thing–and if a 50-point night after being put in the starting lineup isn’t a good case for becoming a starter, I don’t know what is.
Jimmy Butler May Open Up the Spot
If nothing else, it’s very possible that with the departure of Jimmy Butler will open up a spot for Rose in the starting lineup, with him either taking on the role of point guard or staying at the 2 as a shooting guard.
Rose has certainly made a case for that, since as noted above it was Butler’s absence last night that allowed him the starting position and subsequent 50-point game.
All of this makes the Timberwolves an even more intriguing team to watch this season. Once Butler finally goes, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Rose in Minnesota.
Source: Heavy Sports