Bulls

20 in 20: Is Rose ready to become a superstar?

20 in 20: Is Rose ready to become a superstar?

Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010
10:13 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

A historic summer for the NBA has passed and for the Bulls, while they didn't acquire quite the star power many expected andor hoped for, optimism runs high, both within the organization and throughout the team's fan base. With the offseason coming to an end, the time to fully delve into the upcoming NBA season is here. Instead of a traditional season preview, issues both throughout the league and in Chicago will be probed daily here on CSNChicago.com up until the squad officially convenes for training camp toward the end of September.

5. Will Derrick Rose make the leap to NBA superstar this season?

Behind tournament MVP Kevin Durant's 28-point game -- a day after his USA Basketball-record 38 points against Lithuania on Sept. 11 -- the U.S. defeated host nation Turkey, 81-64, on Sunday to win the gold medal at the FIBA World Championships, clinching an automatic bid to the 2012 Olympics in London. Bulls point guard Rose added eight points and six assists in the win, while 2008 second-round draft pick and Turkish starting center Omer Asik contributed five points and four rebounds in a losing effort.

Rose, the championship team's starting point guard, had an up-and-down event, averaging 7.2 points, a team-leading 3.2 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals through the USA national team's nine victories. Rose was the MVP of the team's final exhibition game and much was expected of him heading into the tournament, but he struggled with his outside shot -- shooting 45.8 percent from the field, but just 27.8 percent from behind the three-point arc (not to mention an uncharacteristic 50 percent from the free-throw stripe) -- and was benched in favor of reserve spark plug Russell Westbrook, Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder teammate.

That said, this summer's experience has been invaluable for Rose and should transfer over to the upcoming season with the Bulls. Playing alongside respected veteran and former NBA champion Chauncey Billups in the USA backcourt, Rose was able to see firsthand how a game could be affected with one's basketball I.Q. as opposed to physical tools. Playing in the team's defensive scheme, in which sound, pressure defense was the catalyst for the squad, he received an introduction to what he'll experience back in Chicago under noted defensive strategist and new Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. And while his outside jumper eventually went cold, he did experience some success from behind the arc (particularly in the early going for Team USA) and at the very least, he had the freedom to launch shots from deep after spending the early part of his summer working on expanding his range and consistency. On top of that, Rose was encouraged to progress as a vocal leader, something that doesn't come naturally to him.

But some of the necessary components for Rose to make the leap from promising young star to an elite player were already evident at the end of last season. While Rose demonstrated the ability to take over games, he did it by simply making plays and not always controlling the action, thus leaving himself and the Bulls vulnerable on nights when he wasn't in his groove. Obviously being able to keep defenders honest from the outside is a major part of that process, but with Rose's unique talents -- his explosiveness is regarded as being in a category of its own by many NBA observers, while his playmaking ability and strength and athleticism for his position aren't far behind -- there are other ways he can impact a game besides scoring.

With the presence of Joakim Noah and now Carlos Boozer, Rose doesn't have to turn into an elite rebounder, but he had moments for USA Basketball where he helped out enough on the glass that it's clear he could contribute more in that area for the Bulls. Rose's defensive shortcomings are often overlooked, but he showed a commitment to that end of the floor for the national team and under Thibodeau's tutelage, his progress as a defender should continue, even if he doesn't turn into a master of havoc, a la Rajon Rondo, Thibodeau's former pupil.

His summer teammates should also aid his development as a distributor. While the Bulls aren't an All-Star team, Rose certainly has more options to pass the ball to and the quicker he gauges the strengths and weaknesses of his new teammates, the better for everybody. With so many stars for Team USA, Rose had to blend his natural attacking style with a pass-first mentality, and while it's unlikely that his scoring takes a big dip, playing with the likes of automatic 20-and-10 guy Boozer, knockdown three-point shooter Kyle Korver and athletic slasher Ronnie Brewer -- not to mention an ever-improving Noah and underrated Luol Deng -- will take some of the scoring load off his shoulders and necessitate an occasional shift to pure set-up man.

At the same time, Rose must not lose the takeover mentality he flashed more and more often as the 2009-10 campaign progressed. Although he had a stellar debut season, he started off in a bit of a sophomore slump -- a lingering ankle injury had something to do with that -- and only gained confidence as a true go-to guy after the calendar year changed. This season, with an increased focus on him after his inaugural All-Star berth, outstanding playoff performance and summer exploits, the South Side Chicago native will need to start the season with intensity, yet balance it with an effort to blend in with his new teammates, develop an overall team chemistry and take more of the leadership reigns -- but not just by example.

That's the last part of the puzzle. Rose has consistently expressed a desire to become more of a vocal leader and while it's generally acknowledged that Noah holds that unofficial title on the Bulls (Boozer's veteran tenure and playoff experience should give him some of that responsibility in time, as well), as the point guard, face of the franchise and team's best player, he will need to impact the team more in that aspect.

With those types of expectations put forth by the media, fans and organization itself, it's easy to forget Rose is only 21 years old. His quiet demeanor and humility suggest he may just want to blend in, but while he may consider himself a regular Joe off the court, it belies his supreme confidence in himself and competitive fire. Perhaps the one thing most ignored by observers is how Rose time and again stepped up in the clutch to make big shots and how he wanted the ball in his hands when games mattered the most, a trait that doesn't much lend for anything but complementary players (read: not Carmelo Anthony or others of that similarly dominant ilk), at least not until Rose proves he's not in that category.

Some have inferred that Rose didn't do enough to recruit free agents like LeBron James over the summer. Maybe it's because he knows he's ready to take over Chicago's superstar mantle.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Why the Bulls should take Charles Bassey with the No. 38 pick

Why the Bulls should take Charles Bassey with the No. 38 pick

This is the first entry in our "8 for 38" series, where will be looking at eight different under-the-radar NBA prospects that the Bulls could snag with their No. 38 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Charles Bassey/ 6’11’’/ 275 lbs./ Freshman/ Western Kentucky  

Bassey is a a well-regarded five-star recruit from Nigeria, who played his college ball at Western Kentucky University. He is a physical force on the court but definitely is a raw prospect at this stage of his development.

Bassey came into the season as an assumed first round talent, however, his stock has dropped after his impressive freshman season still revealed holes in his game that will definitely be exploited at the NBA level. All that being said, he was quite the prospect at WKU.

Strengths:

In his lone season at WKU, Bassey averaged 14.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game on 62.7 percent shooting from the field. His impressive double double average was built on his insane dominance inside the paint.

He shot an astounding 77.4 percent on shots at the rim and that number is even higher on non-post up shots around the basket. Bassey has a rudimentary hook shot that he can hit over his left shoulder but his postgame isn’t the hub of his offense. He generates most of his points by finishing on pick-and-rolls and using his faceup game.

Bassey’s physicality leads to him setting hard screens, and when he doesn’t set a hard screen, he slips to the basket quickly where he takes advantage with his soft touch when looking to score. It is tough for help defenders to knock Bassey off his path when he is rolling to the rim, as his immense lower body strength allows him to displace smaller players.

When Bassey faces up from 15-feet and in, he uses the aforementioned soft touch to convert on 40.8 percent of his 2-PT jump shots per Hoop-Math.com. On top of that, he generally has the speed to blow by most big men.

Bassey’s biggest strength from day one in the NBA will be his motor. He clearly gets fired up for big matchups, as he showcased when he dominated Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, who ended up winning the 2019 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given by the Basketball Hall of Fame to the country’s best center. In their late December matchup, Bassey helped hold Happ to a very inefficient 20 points on 23 shots.

In that same game Bassey finished with 19 points (7/8 FG, 5/5 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocks. He has arguably had better games, but the all-around versatility showcased in the stat line above is outstanding.

Bassey has flashed the ability to make nice passes before:

Since Bassey’s NBA offense will be centered around pick-and-roll plays, further developing his decision making on the short-roll will be a boon to whatever team drafts him.

On defense, Bassey already shows the ability to be an asset in the right system. When he is allowed to play in a traditional defensive system that has the center dropping back in pick-and-roll coverage, he swallows up shots with his 7-foot-3 wingspan.

Weaknesses:

The gigantic weakness Bassey showcased this season was an inability to function as a switch defender. He was great when it comes to protecting the rim--he averaged 2.4 blocks per game-- but he was consistently beat off the dribble by guards.

Of course it is rare to find any center--let alone a young one--that has the legitimate ability to function at a high-level when it comes to switching on to smaller, faster players. But that is precisely what makes Bassey the exact type of center you can find easily.

This is why a player of his talent level can slip into the second round.

Another big issue for Bassey is hands, or more specifically, the inability to hold on to passes when diving to the rim. As mentioned above, pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop basketball is how Bassey will carve out a niche in the league. But he occasionally struggled to hold on to the ball on throws that many would not even consider to be “tough passes”.

In the above strengths section it is mentioned how Bassey has some untapped potential as a passer, but he will never cash in on that potential if simply possessing the ball is a difficulty for him. He isn’t as explosive as usual if there are multiple defenders crowding him and raking at the ball, which happens often.

Over 1,067 minutes Basey amassed 24 assists as compared to a whopping 97 turnovers.

Long term outlook:

I believe Bassey will have a long NBA career due to his finishing in the paint and ability to block shots.

Bassey ran roughshod over his mostly Conference USA opposition on the season.

His 62.7 percent shooting from the field and 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes were a few of the many things that showed that Bassey is at least ready for the physicality of the NBA.

But to become much more than a solid journeyman center, Bassey will have to hone his perimeter jump shot to the point that he can become a solid 3-point threat. He shot 45 percent on a very limited 20 attempts from 3-point range and converted on 76.9 percent of his free throws, an enticing set of numbers that show the type of player he could be in the future.

Whether or not Robin Lopez stays, the Bulls will be short on center depth next season.  After Wendell Carter Jr. went down for the remainder of the 2018-19 season, we saw the Bulls play ultra-small lineups that got beat up on the glass often as Jim Boylen was still reluctant to play Felicio more than 15 minutes per game.

Adding a high-upside prospect like Bassey helps Boylen and co. avoid over-using lineups with Lauri Markkanen at center, which helps keep Markkanen fresh and theoretically improves the overall team defense. 

From one GOAT to another: "Greatest comeback I've ever seen"

michaeljordan_1920_woods.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

From one GOAT to another: "Greatest comeback I've ever seen"

 

Michael Jordan is no stranger to amazing comebacks.

The man widely agreed upon to be the greatest player of all time, won six NBA Championships, with three of them coming after a full season sabbatical in which he played minor league baseball with the White Sox affiliate. And of course, MJ had his even later comeback with the Washington Wizards from 2001 to 2003, in which the year 40-year old Jordan averaged 21.2 PPG over two seasons to close out his career.

That is why Jordan’s effusive praise of Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters victory should not be taken lightly in the greater context of sports history.

In an article written by The Athletic’s David Aldridge, Jordan talks about how he holds Woods’ 2019 Masters win in extremely high regard, calling it “the greatest comeback I've ever seen."

Jordan, a famously avid golfer himself and a friend of Woods, stated, “I’ve been a fan for I don’t know how long.....I never thought he’d get back physically.....He didn’t think he’d get back physically.”

Major success had escaped Woods--who only had one victory in 2018--due to a litany of back injuries and subsequent surgeries.

With Woods having a major victory under his belt for the 2019 season, he certainly has momentum rolling in his favor. That momentum could carry Woods to another major run of PGA Tour success, and MJ agreed that Woods’ belief in himself was perhaps the biggest factor in his 2019 Masters win.

“No one expected him to be back the way he is now. He's probably the only person who believed he could get back.”