Rose Feels Good, Shakes Off Struggles
It’s great to see Derrick Rose back on the court playing for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. However, Rose hasn’t looked like himself in the early stages of the tournament.
He has had his moments and some rust is certainly expected after missing nearly two full seasons due to injuries, but some Chicago Bulls fans are understandably concerned. Rose, who is coming off of the bench behind Kyrie Irving, has averaged just 5.4 points while shooting 25 percent from the field.
Even though the 25-year-old doesn’t look his former MVP self, he believes he has played well and is comfortable with his performance through five wins.
“I’m loving the way that I’m playing,” Rose told reporters, according to Bulls.com’s Sam Smith. “Of course, missing shots, that’s part of the game. But just conditioning wise and how I’ve been playing defense and low turnovers the last couple games, I’m loving the way that I’m playing.”
“I exceeded my expectations,” Rose added. “I’m not sore. My knees are good. I know a lot of people are concerned about that, but I think I’m playing well. Pushing the ball, missing layups, little rusty stuff that normally comes with not playing for two years. But as a team and as a unit, we’re really smothering teams with our defense. Not at the beginning of games, which we should be doing right away. But we always find our way, getting on the same page and clicking at some point in the game. It was more like an AAU-type of schedule (this past week). I’m just happy to be playing basketball, competing at a high level. And I’m really happy with my conditioning right now. I feel like me picking up full court, really getting into people, running the team (helps) me knock this rust off along the way for the regular season.”
Rose has gotten used to being asked about his health and understands that the inquiries aren’t going to end anytime soon given what he’s been through over the last two years.
“It’s going to be the whole year,” Rose said of health questions. “It will probably be until I retire. So I can’t get sick and tired of it. I just have to be immune to it and just know that question is always going to be in the air and don’t worry about it.”
He acknowledged that he’s expending most of his energy on defense, which is tiring him out and affecting his shot. But he also pointed out that many players have been struggling with their shooting because they aren’t playing with the NBA ball that they’re used to. He makes a valid point, as Team USA has shot just 34 percent from beyond the arc despite having sharpshooters like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on the roster.
“This is a new ball,” Rose said. “This is not the NBA ball. I could see if I was missing these shots and it was the NBA, it would be something totally different. I think everybody is having a little struggle with shooting these balls because one little twitch in your finger or whatever, it’s going a whole other direction. It’s lighter, slippery.”
For what it’s worth, head coach Mike Krzyzewski isn’t worried about Rose’s performance at all. He believes that Rose has been a key contributor for the team, and it seems he’s getting tired of the questions about the point guard’s health.
“Great, he’s great,” Krzyzewski said. “I think at some time everyone should stop asking about him physically and just say, ‘How’s your game? You think we’re going to win? How’d you like that pass?’ Although it’s nice when people say, ‘How do you feel?’ – when that’s the only thing they say, then you say, ‘C’mon, man, let’s have a more in depth conversation.’ I think he’s ready for that.
“He looks great. Why don’t you ask him, ‘Boy I saw you in the shooting drill and you looked happy. How’s your crossover going? You’re getting up on your jump shot. Is Coach K calling enough plays for you? Do you have a rift with Coach K? Why is he limiting your minutes? Is it because he’s from the South Side and I’m from the North Side? Those are all more questions that will stimulate his mind and will help him.”
Krzyzewski isn’t the only member of the coaching staff who has praised Rose. Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is one of Coach K’s assistants, and he has been very impressed with Rose’s play considering the circumstances.
“Mentally, he’s strong,” Thibodeau said. “I thought his defense was terrific. He’s not making shots right now, but each day he’s gotten more and more comfortable. Doing a good job running the team and we just want him to continue to concentrate on his improvement. But physically he feels great. … He hasn’t played in a long time. That (erratic shooting) was to be expected. The more he plays, the more his timing will come around. Right now he’s missed some layups that are usually automatics. That will come, I think, as he finds the rhythm of the game; it will get better and better for him. He’s not playing a lot of minutes, so it’s a different role for him. Physically, he’s good. He says he feels great. We’re watching the way he’s moving. He’s been great in practice, great in the games.
“It’s the ideal setting for him to come back in. His level of competition, the depth of the team is strong. And he doesn’t have to play extended minutes. It’s been good for him. When you miss two and a half years of playing, there’s rust you have to shake off. Right now his shot is not falling, but that will come. He’s more of a scorer than he is a pure shooter. We know he’s a great driver and a great finisher. So right now his drives have been explosive and great. The ball just hasn’t gone in for him.”
As Thibodeau mentioned, coming off of the bench is new for Rose. People forget that most NBA players have no idea what it’s like to not be part of a starting lineup because they’ve been the best player on the court for most of their life. Rose admitted that he has had to adjust his reserve role.
“Coming off the bench, this is the first time in my life doing this,” Rose said. “That’s what makes our team so unique and so deep. With me in the second unit, I believe there is no second unit that can stick me when I’m on the floor. And it’s vice versa with Kyrie [Irving] if he were to come off the bench. It would be no one that would stick him. As far as a whole, we just have to do better with executing our plays, run the floor and get used to each other. This is our first time ever competing in something like this with a new team where you had so many other players drop out like [Kevin] Durant, [Kevin] Love, [Russell] Westbrook, Eric Gordon, everybody that was on the 2010 team. We just have to get adjusted to the new players that made this team and keep it going. Usually when we get into people, we change the game. That’s the only thing we have to worry about is defense. Offensively, I think we shouldn’t have anything to worry about because we have so many threats on this team. But getting into people, turning people, putting pressure on them the entire game, we have to wear on people.
“Of course, if you’re a fan of basketball and us being in the NBA, you hear about the Dream Team and the legend. Us coming here, we’re so far away from that team, there’s no point in trying to compare or even put us up next to that team. Our job is to come here, win as many games as possible so we can get to Madrid and hopefully win a gold medal.”
Rose is saying all of the right things and it’s excellent to hear that he feels fine physically and hasn’t experienced any soreness. Hopefully, this experience will allow him to shake the rust off and rebuild his confidence so he’s ready to return to elite form during the 2014-15 NBA season for the Bulls.
Pacers Announce Four Signings
The Indiana Pacers announced Friday the signing of free agents C.J. Fair, Arinze Onuaku, Chris Singleton and Adonis Thomas.
According to reports, these players have been signed to non-guaranteed contracts and will be competing for roster spots in training camp.
Fair is a 6’8 rookie forward out of Syracuse who played on the 2014 Dallas Mavericks summer league team.
Onuaku is a 6’9 second-year forward, also out of Syracuse, who played for both the New Orleans Pelicans and the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2013-14 season. He has also spent time with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and Canton Charge of the NBA Development League.
Singleton is a fourth-year, 6’9 forward out of Florida State. He played all three seasons of his NBA career with the Washington Wizards, with career averages of 4.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
Thomas is a 6’7 forward that played collegiately at Memphis. He is in his second year in the NBA, having played for both Orlando and Philadelphia in the 2013-14 season.
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