This upcoming season (assuming their is one) might be Derrick Rose's best chance to win a back to back Most Valuable Player award while still playing in an era of 'in their prime' LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. When they are both gone (Wade won't last into his mid-30s in my opinion and who knows how long LeRod will want to put up with the constant scrutiny) who knows how easy (or difficult) it will be for Derrick considering the mystery behind what the talent will be like when he is 27 or 28 years old. For now here is why I think Derrick has a great shot to repeat right now.
- The Potentially Shortened Season.
One thing about Rose being the youngest MVP ever is that he had to carry a team with lacking offense and often injured key players. Because of this perhaps no one in the league worked harder for victories game after game than Rose. As a result, it was obvious when his legs were tired and when they were not. Using his 3-point shot as an example, the Bulls played 11 Tuesday games this regular season and 8 of those were when their last game was on a Saturday. Derrick was a poor 3 point shooter 5 days of the week, but on Saturdays he shot 37% from 3 and on Tuesdays he was a whopping 48% on his 3 point shot. Clearly having fresh legs meant everything. I would talk about his 41% from 3 on three+ days rest, but that is a very small sample size (not to mention his overall FG% was the same O.o.) It is only natural that a player plays better rested and I am sure that one of the things he will work on this off season is his conditioning. The dead legs he had throughout the Eastern Conference Finals had to have bothered him. Partner that with, say a 50 game season and we could see a rested and full-throttle DRose.
- Sizing Up the Competition.
Going through our usual suspects first, LeBron James will likely never win the award again unless everyone else falls off, his numbers truly approach the triple-double average and the Heat win the top spot in their conference. Is this fair? Not at all, but voters are humans; many of which who feel the same way about James as the rest of us. His 4th quarter disappearing acts in the Finals did not help his case either even though it has nothing to do with the regular season. Don't think that voters will not take those kind of unrelated matters into consideration.
Kobe's knees are so bad that he could not even practice last year. While able to still play at an All-Star level, you could not convince me in any capacity that Paul Gasol is not the most important player on that Lakers roster. Wade will never win it as long as he's stuck playing with James who most believe is the better player. Dirk Nowitzki is always in the picture and seeing as the Derrick Rose Story has already been used it will not be a weapon at Derrick's dispostal to fend off his likely challengers. Dwight Howard's team will not be good enough for people to vote him the MVP. Same for Blake Griffin (his defense won't help either.) This could be a two-man race between Rose and Kevin Durant. The Thunder could very well end up being the best team in the West next season and if that's the case I think he's Derrick's biggest threat. Fresh legs will benefit him as well those he does not get a lot of elevation on his jump shot anyway.
- Rose's Offseason Work
There are two things we know Derrick wants to work on; his conditioning and his post game. Some on BaB are convinced that the post game is the final piece to the offensive puzzle that will complete Rose's game (aside from the things that only experience can teach.) I would personally rather have him call up John Stockton and have him give the same kind of pointers he gave to Deron Williams after his rookie year that transformed him into one of the top assist men in the league. I would also prefer he spend the summer with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer working on 101 Pick and Roll plays. Still, I cannot complain about him wanting to get a post game. He has heard the myriad complaints about LeRod's unwillingness to add that aspect of his offense and make him unstoppable on that end. And being a Chicago boy, even if he was too young to enjoy Michael Jordan at his finest, he had to have seen enough video to know that above all else Jordan was absolutely dominant in the post (Kobe has been pretty darn good too.) He already has magnificent touch around the rim and a size and strength advantage over the average point guard. Adding this type of offense will lead to more easy scores and open up the team offense in a new way. Can you trap a guard who is positioned in the post instead of at the top of the key? How quickly can you rotate when/if he kicks it out to Korver on the wing or Deng in the corner? What if Jo, Deng, Brewer or Butler cuts to the basket while you send help? In a way, Derrick's passing game will improve as well.
- The ECF Failure Left a Bitter Taste In His Mouth
I do not believe that we had anything to worry about in regards to Rose losing motivation after winning an MVP. Has he given us any reason to believe that he would be satisfied so easily? Still, the 5 game defeat against Miami not long ago had to have hurt. The Baron Davis-like shooting percentages in the post season could not have left him feeling good. Seeing as his team is now a championship contender and not just lucky to get into the playoffs, I cannot imagine Derrick Rose having ever been more motivated in his life to work hard and win a championship. He will not have to deal with FIBA (the experience did help, but he never got a proper off season rest.) He can concentrate solely on improving his game while staying home.
The MVP is up for grabs every year because their is no Michael Jordan in this era. One guys is too old, another too scared and everyone else is as young as our guy (aside from Dirk. Curse you, Dirk.) However, the right off-season signing (new shooting guard) and the right off-season workouts could make Rose an MVP once again. Of course, I would rather have him be the Finals MVP and that remains a possibility as well.