Paul Shirley — former NBA player and author of “Can I Keep My Jersey?” — commented on Derrick Rose for El Pais. Paul’s comment, though, is in Spanish. What follows is the same article in English. One should note that that was written before it was announced that Jimmy Butler is hurt. Butler’s injury is likely to make the loss of Rose appear to matter quite a bit. Of course, as Paul notes below, there is a difference between perception and reality when it come to Rose.
You can be forgiven if it feels like you’ve seen that sentence before. The Chicago Bulls’ point guard has been hurt for most of the past four seasons. Last season, he played 10 games. The year before, zero. This season, he managed 46 games before succumbing to a meniscus tear. All this misfortune makes for an interesting argument: should we feel sorry for Derrick Rose? On the one hand, Rose has had a dreadful run of corporeal luck. On the other, he will get paid $19 million this year, $20 million next year, and $21 million in 2016-17. I suspect that there are several people in this world who would be willing to endure the odd medical procedure in return for $60 million.
What is inarguable is this: the Chicago Bulls chances of winning an NBA title have changed since Rose’s injury. But not in the direction you might assume.
This year, Derrick Rose has been statistically disastrous for the Bulls. He’s shot 28.7% from behind the three-point line, which wouldn’t be so bad except that three-pointers make up a third of the shots he takes. He gives the ball to the other team more often than a point guard should (3.2 turnovers per game) and he’s only good for a relatively paltry five assists per game. These condemnations of Derrick Rose’s game are aggregated inthe Wins Produced statistic: the best representation I’ve found for a player’s value to his team. According to Wins Produced,Pau Gasol has been responsible for 10 Bulls wins this year. Joakim Noah, for five. Jimmy Butler, a whopping 12. Derrick Rose: -0.5. Contrary to popular belief, putting this year’s version of Derrick Rose on the court made the Bulls lose.
Then there’s the subjective side. After watching many Chicago Bulls games this year, I’ve decided that Derrick Rose’s best basketball days are long gone. Rose isespecially bad on defense, where he has looked far more like a toreador than a Bull. (Feel free to groan here.)
Does this mean the Bulls, who were already good, will now challenge for an NBA title? Not so fast. The Bulls have one last obstacle to overcome: their own brains. In spite of plenty of evidence to the contrary, it cannot be denied that Derrick Rose isstill perceived by most humans to be a good basketball player, and it is perceived that his absence will be bad for his team. The problem, for the Bulls, is that they are humans, too—susceptible to both flawed cartilage and flawed perception.
In other words, the Chicago Bulls’ problem is not the loss of Derrick Rose, but their own perception of that loss. If they can overlook Derrick Rose’s perceived value, the proverbial sky is the proverbial limit. But if they cannot, another boring, repetitive headline awaits: “Bulls lose in second round of playoffs!”