Every Rose has its thorn. But for Derrick Rose, it seems to be a gigantic spike known as “injury.” Rose missed his fifth game in a row last night with a pulled groin, an injury he sustained against the Knicks on March 12. It was the 15th game he’s missed this season after sitting out earlier in the year with a turf-toe injury and then back spasms. So even though nobody in Chicago wants to ask it, the question is rapidly gaining significance: How much durability can we expect from Derrick Rose?
This question might seem a bit hasty considering how good D-Rose always looks coming back from an injury. From a Chicago fan’s viewpoint, this guy is pretty much invincible. Some people are even under the impression that his injuries haven’t been that severe but because the Bulls can function without him, his return hasn’t been urgent. Tom Thibodeau denies this and talks about how much the Bulls want him on the court, but with backup point guards C.J. Watson and John Lucas playing so well, what’s the rush? Technically, Derrick Rose isn’t even a true point guard, which explains why the Bulls have been okay without him; Watson and Lucas can facilitate to Deng, Boozer and Joakim Noah while pitching in some buckets as well. This is much different from Rose’s guardplay, which is centered on scoring first and distributing second.
But let’s not get carried away here. The Bulls need D-Rose. Despite being 11-4 without Rose on the floor, no one in their right mind would argue that Chicago can top the Miami Heat in the East without the reigning MVP. Carlos Boozer won’t play at such a stellar level for the entire season. Luol Deng won’t keep hitting on all cylinders forever. And when the Chicago Bulls need a savior, someone to pick them up with a ridiculous crunch-time bucket, they will look to Derrick Rose to do so.
Unfortunately, that same aggressive, high-flying, “never back down” mentality is the exact reason why Rose has been injured so much. His playing style involves attacking the rim, maneuvering and twisting through the air, which usually leads to drawing a fair amount of contact. Because he’s so strong and quick in attacking the basket, Rose deals with that regular amount of contact from defenders, with a lot of it not being called by the referees. This constant wear-and-tear finally seems to be taking its toll. Every time Rose has been injured this season, Chicago has listed him as “day-to-day,” which is particularly frustrating for Bulls fans and fantasy owners who watch as he continues to miss games. A growing concern that no one really wants to acknowledge is whether or not Rose can stay healthy for the playoffs.
If his injuries really are “day-to-day,” fans of Chicago and good basketball in general should be excited to watch him play in the postseason again. If he can stay healthy, the Bulls should be favorites to take on the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. And although the Heat have had Chicago’s number in the past two years, Rose could be the piece that lifts them to a Finals appearance. However, if he can’t stay healthy, look for the Bulls to make a quick exit in the second round. Because although the Bulls are capable of winning games without their star point guard, a seven game series with teams like the Sixers, Pacers or Hawks just doesn’t seem favorable if Derrick Rose isn’t leading the way.