There are still two months remaining before the start of the 2013-2014 NBA season, but the Chicago Bulls and their fans are already buzzing about the return of their star point guard, Derrick Rose. As anyone who watches basketball knows at this point, Rose missed all of last season recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
At the end of last season leading into the playoffs, there were plenty of rumors that Rose could potentially return to action. Those rumors cited multiple people saying that Rose was looking fantastic in five-on-five practices, but that he was just trying to overcome the final mental hurdles.
It seems that Rose is finally past those mental road blocks, though, as he has said publicly that he expects to be back in action for the start of this season. With the promise of his return, that leaves many people wondering what Rose will look like and what kind of production he will put up when he takes the floor for the Bulls once again.
Though it may not be the most popular opinion, I expect Rose to be back to full form and possibly even be better than he was prior to the injury. In fact, I expect Rose to finish in the top two of the NBA MVP voting this season. I know I sound like a crazy person considering that LeBron James and Kevin Durant are still in the league, but hear me out.
In the last season that he was fully healthy, the 2010-2011 campaign with the Bulls, Rose won the MVP. In 81 games he averaged 25 points, 7.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds and one steal in 37.4 minutes per game while shooting a solid 44.5 percent from three. That season, Rose was money in isolation sets, ranking seventh in the NBA at 1.05 points per possession, and in the pick-and-roll, coming in at 47th in the league at 0.87 points per possession.
One of the things that’s overlooked about that season, though, is the fact that his supporting cast isn’t nearly as quality as it is this season. He still had Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer, but Joakim Noah wasn’t nearly as developed offensively as he is right now and he didn’t have another dynamic wing like Jimmy Butler either. He did have a shooter in Kyle Korver that season, but Mike Dunleavy should be able to fill that role well this year.
What having a stronger supporting cast will do for Rose is essentially make his life easier. Even though he was successful in isolation sets in his MVP season, he should be able to have more success this season because defenses won’t be able to put the same amount of focus on him. Being surrounded by more talent will also allow Rose to take on a larger role as a facilitator, which should help his assist numbers.
The obvious glaring issue with Rose being at the top of the MVP race is the fact that, as I mentioned, LeBron and Durant are still playing basketball. Though LeBron is the two-time reigning MVP, Durant seems like the bigger threat to win the MVP this season over Rose. Voters often shy away from giving players the award three times in a row, considering that only Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell are the only players in history to do so. Essentially, LeBron is going to have to do something crazy like join the 50-40-90 (field goal/three-point/free throw percentage) club if he’s going to win the award.
If the race does come down to Durant and Rose, it’s also going to be hard for voters to disregard the boost that Rose is going to give the Bulls both with his play and from an emotional standpoint, which works in the point guard’s favor.
It’s hard to predict outright that Rose will win his second MVP this season simply because of all of the talent that is in the league right now. However, if he can come out looking like his old self, which I fully expect to happen, I have complete faith that he can win the award and that, if he doesn’t, he’ll come close.