Is Derrick Rose Ready to Lead the Bulls?

bulls_rose_300

By Paul M. Banks

The Chicago Bulls announced Monday that the team picked up the 2010-11 season options for both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. By exercising the respective player options, both will be under contract for 2010-11. This transaction occurred on the same day Rose practiced for the first time in….a long while. Aside from the opener, Rose missed every game this preseason, and concerns in Chicago arose. There were concerns about Rose being ready for the opener vs San Antonio Thursday night. Perhaps those fears have subsided a bit now that he’s working out again, but there are some new questions lingering as the season commences.

How effective will Rose be in the early weeks and how much of his development was stunted by the time he missed? This is a franchise that hasn’t had an All-Star since what seems like forever, and they’ve also gone without a true star/franchise player since Michael Jordan. In the words of Bulls team Captain Kirk Hinrich, “We don’t have an All-Star or anything like that, we have to do it as a group and it takes a specific type of effort to do that.” However, Rose is the only player on the roster with the potential to be that missing All-Star/franchise player- and possibly soon.

Rose, appeared in 81 games (80 starts) last year en route to being selected last year’s NBA Rookie of the Year.  On the season, he averaged 16.8 ppg, a team-high 6.3 apg and 3.9 rpg in 37.0 mpg. The Chicago native shot .475 from the field and .788 from the free throw line.deron_williams

I spoke with Rose at the Berto Center about what he’s working on to bring his game, and his team, to the next level. “My mental part of the game, my approach to it, my offensive game, and approach to it. Defensively- watching players more, their strengths and weaknesses,” he responded. Rose finished the 2008-09 campaign in the top three in several categories all-time among Bulls rookies, including total points (third with 1,361), scoring average (third) and assists (third with 512).  Rose was the first overall selection in the 08 NBA Draft.

This being the golden age of NBA point guards, Rose doesn’t have to look very far to find inspirational role models for achieving that eliteness. I asked him who he looks at specifically.

“Deron Williams a lot, he’s a bigger guard, so I watch him, and watched him all through Illinois, so we have that kind of a connection,” the Chicago native said about one of the biggest stars in University of Illinois history. D. Will has become a huge star for the Utah Jazz, and (due to his Fighting Illini heroics in 2004-05) is extremely popular in Chicago. D. Rose has rightfully set his sites high. And realistically high.

Vinny Del Negro’s Chicago Bulls Preseason Assessments

bullscourt

By Paul M. Banks

Last season, the Chicago Bulls experienced a dramatically positive growth spurt. A team that actually lost at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the early part of the season grew together and gelled enough to qualify for the postseason. And in those playoffs, they gave the defending World Champion Boston Celtics all they could handle in a physical seven-game series that featured more overtime sessions than any other series in NBA history. It was probably the most exciting playoff series that the professional hardwood has ever seen, but a first round exit is still a first round exit, so 2008-09 was not exactly the most memorable season in Bulls history. But after building some positive momentum last season, what will the Bulls do with it now? Can they at least win the Central Division?

Their sophomore Head Coach Vinny Del Negro is as good a clue as any. Here are some of the highlights of what he’s told the media this preseason

About taking it to the next level…

“The 2nd half of last year I think we started to come into our own a little bit, kind of me feeling the guys out, them feeling me out how we’re gonna play. Now there’s a familiarity…now we just have to improve, you have to put the work in on the practice court and hopefully execute in games.”

On how little you can read into the Bulls 5-2 preseason record…

“Every time you’re keeping score, you always want to win, but sometimes there’s a lot of young players out there and that usually dictates some mistakes and the flow of the game can get changed a little bit when you’re trying to conserve some guys’ minutes, so the rotations aren’t down and that throws guys into different positions sometimes.”bulls2

On Tyrus Thomas, and his convalescence…

“He needs to get back in shape, he’s been out a little bit, and get the flow back offensively, defensively, be our shot blocker back there, and make open 15 footers. If he runs the court with his athleticism and gets after it defensively, it’ll give us a big boost. He knows what he needs to do, he just needs to go out and do it consistently.”

On improving the team’s much maligned defense…

“We have to find a way to get stops at key times, but also we need to rebound better defensively. Some times we’re getting key stops, but not getting that basketball, hopefully with a little more size the rebounding numbers will get better.”

The subject on everyone’s mind, the health of Derrick Rose…

“He needs to get back. It is a day-to-day thing. He’s been doing some running and he’s been on the bike. We may have him in shooting drills, but not full-contact drills…It is possible he will not be ready for the opener against San Antonio. I hope he practices tomorrow but it is really day-to-day.

Season tips off October 29th.