For the second summer, ESPN has released a ranking of all the players in the NBA 500 through 1. Last year, Derrick Rose was rated the 8th best player in the league, and this year, he has improved his rating to number 5.
At first, 5 seemed a bit high to me. Coming off a down season for Derrick Rose standards, 22 and 8 are certainly not bad stats, but don’t compare to those of his MVP season of 2011. I was surprised to see that ESPN moved him up their list considering all of the injuries and lack of scoring last season. Even still, D Rose is a top 10 player in the league, but initially 5 seemed a bit lofty for me.
Then you look at what he did in the games he did play last season. Game winner against the Lakers in the opener. Step back fade-away to beat the Bucks. Dominating against great teams and making the players around him better. His value became almost more apparent in his absence. Yes, the Bulls had success without Rose, and I think you can attribute a lot of that to Coach Thibodeau, but considering his impact maybe five is just right for the former MVP.
As soon as Derrick went down in game one of the Bulls, 76ers playoff series, the Bulls looked clueless. There was no spacing, no fluidity, no sense of urgency. A team that was predicted to challenge the Heat now loses to the number 8 seed in the first round of the playoffs. A team that very well had a shot to win the championship now loses everything. When a team has one player that has that type of effect on the game, you know that losing him will be insurmountable.
Critics have been quick to count Derrick out because of this injury. “He will lose his explosiveness”, “he wont be able to play the way he did before”, but there is no reason why he can’t come back the same, or even better than he was in 2011. You look at Robert Griffin III who tore his ACL, then he came back to win the Heisman Trophy and get drafted number 2 overall in the NFL. Stephen Strasburg had Tommy John surgery and came back to go 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA, and I think a pitcher having Tommy John compares a lot to a basketball player tearing an ACL.
Considering the minor injuries Derrick dealt with all of last season, this time off will allow him to heal entirely. He missed 27 games last year before he tore his ACL and with over a year (if he misses the entire 2012-2013 season) he has all the potential to come back injury free and stronger than ever.
We all know about his dedication and will to succeed. And I think that is the reason he was ranked number 5. Not only because he is the most exciting player in the league. Not only because he makes his team a contender. Not only because he is one of the best scorers in the league but also draws the best from his teammates every game. Derrick Rose steps up to every challenge he faces, and when he sets goals for himself, he achieves them. His famous, “why can’t I be the MVP” speech should prove it. He will come back, and continue to play MVP caliber basketball and prove his worth as a top five player in the NBA.