When Derrick Rose arrived in New York City it was the dawning of a new era for the Knicks and the final chapter in the book of D. Rose. D. Rose was one of the most athletic point guards we have ever seen. He used to levitate through the air, snatch ankles, and viciously attack the rim. He carried his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls on his back at the age of 19 and became the youngest player to win MVP in 2011 at 22 years old. There was no question D. Rose was a superstar. Sadly D. Rose died on the floor of the United Center April 28, 2012. D. Rose will never suit up for the Knicks and that’s okay–all they need is Derrick Rose.
It’s easy to get drunk on 2011 highlights and talk yourself into a D. Rose resurrection at Madison Square Garden. No longer carrying the burden of being the hometown hero, he has been able to fall in line behind Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis and find his new basketball self in the process. He is still Chicago to the core, symbolized by the number change to 25 (representing not only Rose’s high school number, but Chicago legend Benji Wilson’s) and still possess the talent that led to his meteoric rise. D. Rose was Rose’s superhero alter ego tasked with carrying his city back to the promised land.
In New York he does not have to carry anyone or anything. Porzingis is the anointed savior and Carmelo is the unquestioned leader. Rose’s job is to lead the supporting cast. He knows this even going as far to say it publicly.
“That vintage is gone, man. The question should be: ‘Can I hoop?’ I can hoop. It shouldn’t be like, ‘He’s playing like his old self. If I can hoop, I can hoop, no matter if I did that when I was younger or now. I can play the game of basketball.”
When the season started it was assumed Rose was a one year rental while his longtime teammate Joakim Noah was here for the next four years. Instead Noah has been the piece that doesn’t fit and Rose has been the one with a clear role. The past four games have been a blueprint of how to use him this year and possibly beyond. When Rose attempts more than 16 shots the Knicks are 0-6. That is not to say the Knicks are better without him, they just function better when he is not the focus of the offense.
Rose’s main job is to allocate whatever “vintage” D. Rose he has left and use it when necessary.
One of the more endearing traits of vintage D. Rose was his knack for clutch buckets. He may no longer take the lion’s share of the workload, but there will be plenty of moments this season where he needs to score the deciding bucket. Against the Trail Blazers the Knicks needed just that. After the Blazers cut off pick-and-roll attempts with both Carmelo and Porzingis, Rose had to revert back to his Bulls days and score an iso basket. He answered the call and sealed the win with a midrange jumper.
Against the Hornets he was asked to do a little more. In addition to scoring late in the game Rose was tasked with chasing Kemba Walker around. Kemba came in averaging an impressive 25 points per game. Rose was not only able to corral the Hornets’ top gun and hold him to 17 points, but he made the game-clinching block. There are different variations of clutch plays in basketball and Rose is an expert in all.
The message Rose should be hearing is that more is less. He currently leads the league in clutch baskets, shooting 7-for-10 in one possession games with less than five minutes left. While it might not be sustainable it shows that there is a place for Rose. Against two playoff teams Rose was able to aid the Knicks to victory playing within himself. D. Rose still lives within him, but Derrick Rose is the player the Knicks need right now.