Derrick Rose’s electric play is leading the Knicks back to relevance.
Following a rather unceremonious exit from the Chicago Bulls, former MVP Derrick Rose is attempting to revive his career with the New York Knicks.
As the New York Knicks (15-13) return from a ten-day, five-game road trip, they should feel the sting of missed opportunities. On their longest road stint of the season, the Knicks finished 2-3, with an overtime loss to the lowly Phoenix Suns and two blowout losses at the hands of the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets.
After snapping the losing streak with a 118-111 comeback win against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, the Knicks welcomed back starting point guard Derrick Rose after he missed time with nagging back spasms. Against Indiana, the Knicks’ ‘Big Three’ of Carmelo-Porzingis-Rose combined for 80 of their 118 points. During the five-game stretch, Rose missed the majority of the trip, only playing a complete game in a win against the Los Angeles Lakers and 9:54 minutes against the Suns.
Analyzing the early returns of the blockbuster trade that sent Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant to the Bulls in exchange for Rose and Justin Holiday, it appears to be a win-win for both teams. Lopez has been consistent and Grant has started four games for the Bulls, while Justin Holiday is a rotation player for the Knicks. The centerpiece of the deal, however, was 28-year old star Derrick Rose, and he has lived up to New York’s expectations thus far.
Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Coming off an up-and-down 2015-16 season with the Bulls, Rose has come to Madison Square Garden energized, and shows that he is thriving as a third option for the team. After playing in the first 20 games of the 2016-17 season for the first time since 2009, Rose is filling a much-needed hole that the Knicks haven’t filled in a long time: a competent starting point guard. Although a small sample size, it is telling that the Knicks are 14-10 with Rose in the lineup, and 1-3 without him.
After watching 34-year old Jose Calderon walk the ball up the court last season, perhaps it is too easy to speak effusively about Rose’s solid play so far this season…as well as too early. However, compared to Calderon’s 7.6 points, 4.2 assists per game and 3.2 boards, Rose has put up stellar numbers. In his 23 games this season, Rose has put up 16.4 points, 4.4 assists, along with 4.0 rebounds per game.
Photo: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
As any Knicks fan can remind you, Jose Calderon was far from a defensive stopper during his tenure in New York. While not a defensive dynamo in his own right, Rose has at least posted 0.2 defensive win shares and chipped in 0.7 steals per game. This season, Rose is currently holding his on-ball opponents to 33.3% shooting, via the defensive field goal percentage stat. By comparison, last season’s starter surrendered 57.0% shooting. In terms of Player Efficiency Rating, Rose is posting a 16.3, compared to Calderon’s 12.3 (the league average in 15.0).
Perhaps most importantly, Rose is breaking down interior defenses regularly this season, averaging 9.4 drives per game (good for the 14th best mark in the NBA) compared to Calderon’s 2.2 last season. These drives either create clean looks at the rim for Rose or whatever center is on the court at the time, or open perimeter jumpers for a sharpshooter like Courtney Lee (Lee is currently ranked second in the NBA in 3-point percentage, shooting 46.9%). The hustle of Rose and Jennings can certainly be seen in the Knicks’ significantly faster and more efficient offense the year.
Photo: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The Knicks have also benefited from the play of Rose and Brandon Jennings on the offensive end, running the floor faster and more efficiently than in 2015-16. Last season, New York ranked 24th in Pace (95.8) and 26th in Offensive Efficiency (102.0). So far in 2016-17, the team has made great strides, currently sitting at 12 in Pace (99.3) and 14 in Offensive Efficiency (104.4). The quickness of the Knicks’ guards is tangibly resulting in more offensive possessions for New York. It is important to acknowledge that these numbers can also be attributed to the guidance of new head coach Jeff Hornacek.
NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 21, 2016
While the MVP days of Derrick Rose are gone, it is unwise to write him off just yet. “Vintage” Rose is never coming back, but the flashes he is showing the Knicks have fans optimistic in New York. A strong starting guard has facilitated the offense, and it appears that Rose is thriving on the squad as the third scoring option behind Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Although only 28 games through the season, Derrick Rose is guiding the Knicks to their best start since the 2012-13 season.
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