Bernstein: Rose’s Ceiling Reconsidered

By Dan Bernstein–

I have never doubted that Derrick Rose would be an NBA star. Going back to the silly arguments about whether the Bulls would be better served selecting Rose or Michael Beasley with the top pick in 2008, I have always felt he was a sure bet.

In fact, I declared over the summer that his name would be written somewhere on NBA MVP ballots this season.

Where I have stopped short, though, is in my willingness to believe that he can be the best player on a champion – the kind of unstoppable force of nature that you know when you see. While his explosive, above-the-rim game and humble coachability were obvious, I still have had reservations about his defense, court vision, three-point shooting, durability, and, most importantly, his size.

The NBA is a big man’s league. The best player on almost every title-winner is always someone other than the point guard. Isiah Thomas could be argued as the lone exception, of course, and Magic Johnson played the position at 6’9”. Dwyane Wade is an off-guard in a point’s body, and he emerged as a champion when teamed up with the still-spry Shaq. Jerry Krause proved with the Bulls that a title could be won with a team built around a guard, but that guard had better be the best player of all time.

The closest a little dynamo has come to being the driving force of a recent champion was Allen Iverson in 2001, when he won the scoring title and MVP award, and dragged a bunch of Sixers bums to the NBA finals.

If a guy is 6’3” or less and is responsible for every important basket, the pounding adds up. High flyers fall hard, and often. There is more effort expended to score, as smaller engines can rev higher and run hotter. Career-effectiveness arcs are different for bigs, too; declines can be less precipitous and title windows can remain open longer for teams built around size.

So, to the point. I have been asked often of late, with each next performance from Rose that suggests he may be more special than once believed, whether or not he can be another exception to NBA history.

And my unsatisfying answer for you is…maybe. And if so, it needs to happen before heavy minutes in the years ahead erode his ridiculous athleticism and speed.

I love the kid. I love his innate competitiveness, love his demeanor, love his work ethic, love the new three-point shot and improved defensive footwork and awareness (now that he has an actual coach – amazing how that happens. Two years wasted with Vinny Del Negro was a crime).

Rose already is dealing with a chronic toe condition, and he says an inch or two has already been shaved off his astounding vertical leap since college. Some collisions with Dwight Howard have reminded us of obvious nightly dangers. He is settling into the real, painful life of an NBA vet as his numbers climb with him toward international stardom.

Rose may end up as the best player on a champion, but the Bulls can’t afford to wait patiently for his game to mature and grow, betting on the eventuality that they will win just because he’s here. His period of peak athleticism – the defining aspect of his game– is precious, and it cannot be taken for granted.

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    So Rose is a really good player.

    Thank you for that thought, Daniel.

  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    I do agree that it was a crying shame to waste two developmental years with Vinny Del Magician.

    I feel bad for Blake Griffin’s development.

  • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

    Funny how Dan always has to point out when he is right, but when you call him out he automaticlly gets all worked up.

    • JD

      How is this “worked up”? This is Dan admitting that he is reevaluating his opinion of Rose. He’s doing the exact opposite of what you’re claiming.

    • mckfish

      He is insufferable. The most annoying part is when someone challenges him and his voice rises to a high-pitched screech and he keeps screaming and drowning out the listener.

  • Orton For MVP

    It has been really disgusting how much Dan and Terry have talked about the Sox lately. Why so much discussion on a irrelevant team? Oh and the Patriots are going to destroy the Bears this Sunday.

    • Jon, Montgomery

      whatever orton, what are you… 2nd string QB on a sub .500 team? oh yeah. I’m sure that’s relevant to all of us. sox are going to rule the baseball town next season. and B&B have been talking about the bears, but they’re showing some sox love to the southside nation because Kenny Williams is busting his +ss right now making this team a contender. sit down BOY

  • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

    The Cubs are interested in Garza and Grienke.? WYC? The Cubs are going to be worse than last year!

  • Keenan Saulter

    Agree with your take-I think they need to accelerate the timeline-if Mello cannot be had what do you think about adding Areanas-is that possible?

  • Jon, Montgomery

    in case nobody noticed… Carl Crawford signed with the red sox late last night for 7years-142/Million, WOW.

    I believe I heard that it makes him the highest paid outfielder in MLB history, and I like Crawford and he’s a top notch player, but really? this big of a contract?? well, we know who Carl can thank for this monster money deal…. jayson werth.


    • Chet's Inflated Ego

      Thanks for the info Jon.
      Actually the first news I had of the Crawford signing was your post last night on yesterday’s blog.
      Wow, the Bah-sten Red Sawx have really spent the cash.
      They have one helluva line-up now.
      If Kenny can put together a strong bullpen, I see the Sox winning the AL Central and, after that, who knows????

      Someone on Booyah said that Crawford’s initial asking price was 10 years for 200M. I think he is worth it, but Werth is not werth it.

      • Jon, Montgomery

        I guess the sawx have alot more $$$ than we ever knew they had to spend. guess they want to start buying titles like the yankees. but IMO Boston still has some other holes to fill before I’m ready to make them my pick to win the AL east, that division as it stands now belongs to the Yankees.

  • bronzo

    Hey Orton some of us fint the White Sox very RELEVANT!! BEST BASEBALL TEAM IN TOWN!!! Yes it’s footbal season but the Sox have made some very big moves lately. It’s going to be a great summer on the southside.

  • bronzo

    padon the typo I meant to say find not fint

  • dave

    where do I find WSCR on my HD Radio tuner?

    • Jon, Montgomery

      I think 104.3

  • mad as hell fan....

    Rose is the best guard in the East and he really has no competition other than Wall for that for the foreseeable future. He has made even a bigger leap this year in terms of his overall game. I would take Rose over Wade right now without hesitation. The kid is a stud. Can he be the “best player on a champion”? Why the hell not?

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Rose over Rondo? That’s going to be the debate moving forward… as well as John Wall.

    I still think the Bulls need that wing scorer that can drop 30 on a random night, and there’s a guy being grossly miscast right now that may fit that bill.

    OJ Mayo is now in the sixth man on Memphis, and he’s struggling. Could the Bulls pry him away?

    • bigtime sucker

      he is reported as being unavailable

      • Chet's Inflated Ego

        So Memphis will hold the Mayo?

        bts, did you see the Sun-Times the other day used your theory about the Bulls upcoming schedule…only you gave that one to us a couple of months back.

  • mad as hell fan....

    anyone who watches and knows the game of basketball knows Rondo isn’t in Derrick’s league. IMO it is like comparing Noah to Howard


    On a night where the Bulls may have been caught looking ahead to a rematch with Kobe, Lamar and the NBA Champion Lakers tomorrow night at United Center, Derrick Rose showed why he continues to improve right before our eyes. He wouldn’t lose that game last night vs. a bad Cleveland team and a proven head coach in Byron Scott whose probably wondering why he left ESPN for a bill of goods.

  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    I like Chris’ idea about OJ Mayo…if the price is right.

  • Ghost of 'Thro

    Derrick Rose = MVP so far.

  • meesohawnee

    Too too much NBA Dan. There are other sports teams in town. In the nation. Give your pet a break on the blog for a bit.
    Shame the bulls being fun to watch gives dan the green light to be as one dimensional in his blog thoughts as ever.
    If i have to eat steak every day eventually i get sick of it. If im only given it once a month i look forward to it.
    You guys who are married.. well you can finish that ……………….
    Shame the media can never figure this out.

    • Jon, Montgomery

      i’ve been saying dan needs to spread out his blog a little more, cover more than one big thing each day. i suggest he give us little thoughts about all of the chicago teams, and sometimes a thought about a national story, but i really wish he’d spread it out. but i guess danny doesn’t care.

      • Chet's Inflated Ego

        I think that Jon is 100% correct.
        Can you imagine how boring the show would be if there were only one topic?
        Usually there are a couple of note-worthy topics for the blog, and I’d enjoy reading Bernsie’s slant on them.
        But we usually take it upon ourselves to talk about all the other topics anyway!

  • Muprh

    Did ya’ll hear my news? i shaved my hair and mustache! don’t say it boers!!!

  • Terry


  • Ghost of 'Thro

    Now Derrick CAN’T shoot the 3?

    Dan, when you heard this summer that he had developed a 3-point shot, which he has (even though now you PRESENTLY fail to acknowledge this, which is sick), your interest piqued up – you THEN said that it could be “a thing”, and that he could be a “killer”.

    Well, he is now shooting 37.2% from 3 – up from 26.7 and 22.2, respectively, the past two seasons. It is early, but the “:eye test” tells me he is now dangerous from 3 (and half court, if you look at how he closed the 3rd period vs. the Thunder the other day). Al he really needs to do now is to develop his mid-range jumper and stay out of foul trouble on defense – I have a feeling that the refs will respect him more as his dominance and gentlemanly manner continues to impress.

  • Beardy McWierdington

    Jon,Montgomery go away! The blog was nice on Monday+Tuesday without your boaring dribble.

    • Jon, Montgomery

      hey, when have you ever said anything thoughtful about chicago sports????

      aaah… not at all.

      so why don’t you just go lie down on the highway, okay? thanks!


    I realize that The SCORE doesn’t air “The Dan Patrick Show” anymore, but DP had Jenn Sterger’s agent Phil Reese on there today. Reese sounded very frustrated and annoyed that it appears as if the NFL will not suspend Vikings’ QB Brett Favre for his involvement in that sexting scandal with the former Jets’ hostess 2 years ago.

    The SCORE does have an interesting “Thursday Night Football” game tonight. The Colts/Titans’ game this eve in Nashville is a survival one. There’s a very real possibility both of these teams might be on the outside looking in come playoff time, especially Indianapolis and QB Peyton Manning. Since when has $18 struggled this badly with all those interceptions the last 3 weeks?


      I caught some of that Dan Patrick show today, Abshark. I think the prudent thing for Jen Stroeger to have done, was ignore the inboxes from a married man, who is, supposedly, her co-worker. The show suggested that Stroeger might’ve been threatened with her job if she leaked the news while Favre was a jet (and probably get the guy who gave Favre her number fired, too).

      I only picked the Colts for 13 confidence points. Manning is getting BEAT like our good ‘ol number 18, Peter Tom Wilis (YIKES!)

  • Likquid Swordz

    OJ Mayo is the 6th man in Memphis?

    WTH. Gar get on the phone and make a damn deal. A couple of picks and Keith Bogans for Mayo and a protected pick.

    An athletic backcourt is dangerous these days in the NBA, and with a real coach in Chicago this could be big if it were to happen.

  • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

    Love the Larry Horse talk

    • Chet's Inflated Ego

      Yeah, Uncle Terry was really on a roll with the Larry Horse talk.

      • Jon, Montgomery

        d+mn i missed whatever larry horse stuff terry was talking about, podcast here i come!

        but i did catch WYC, it was pretty good.

  • Chet's Inflated Ego

    listen to the 4:30-5 half-hour just before WYC.

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