Here’s my MVP ballot for this season:
Here’s my MVP ballot for 2015:
The talk coming into this Bulls/Cleveland Cavaliers series, which resumes 2:30 p.m. Sunday with the Cavs ahead 2-1, was all about LeBron James.
James hasn’t disappointed, averaging 34.3 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three blocks.
But now, it’s about James and Derrick Rose.
“He’s a really good talent,” James said after Cavs practice Saturday. “We’ve got to find a way to contain him.”
Rose, like he did last year in opening the playoffs tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s playoff debut scoring record, is drawing praise and homage for his impressive play.
The subject of discussion at Cavs practice, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, was what to do about Rose.
Rose missed Bulls practice once last week because of the death of a close relative and has been leaving early to be with family.
Still, he has been remarkable in the three games in averaging 27.3 points and 8.3 assists. After seven turnovers in Game 1, Rose has had just one in the last two games while averaging almost 43 minutes and attempting 50 shots. With just about every Cav wing player, including James the last four and a half minutes of Game 3, taking turns defending Rose.
“We all need to take a crack at him,” James said. “Just to show him a different person in front of him. A different length, a different speed to keep him a little contained.”
All of this, for a 21-year-old in his second NBA season, has even left veteran Bulls players trying to figure out where Rose will fit in NBA history.
This is a special player whom you will be talking about for years to come if he remains healthy and about whom you’ll be able to say you saw him at the beginning.
“Me, (Jannero) Pargo and Hakim (Warrick) were talking about this,” said Lindsey Hunter, now a special coach who played guard in the NBA 17 years and broke in backing up Isiah Thomas. “There hasn’t been a guy to compare athletically with him at point guard.
“You look at Steve Francis and he was explosive to the rim, but he couldn’t change ends like Derrick,” said Hunter. “Jason Kidd. He couldn’t play over the rim like Derrick. Isiah wasn’t as big and fast. He’s really in a class of his own.”
Hunter says when you look at the top point guards today, you’d probably go with Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Steve Nash. But Hunter believes Rose combines all their attributes and soon will pass them all.
“I cannot think of a guard who combines everything he does,” says Hunter. “I try all the time. He’s in the mold of Deron Williams with body size. He has the speed of the kid at New Jersey (Devin Harris) and has the hands and passing ability of Chris Paul.
“The athleticism of who?” laughs Hunter. “There is nobody.
“He’s like a mini, compact LeBron,” says Hunter. “He’s a point guard with those attributes. And the way his jump shot is coming along, you can’t stop him. I tell people other than the kid at Utah, Paul when he’s healthy, and you still have to put Nash in there, it’s him. And slowly he’s passing all those guys.”
The critics, of course, say, well, Rose can score but he’s really no point guard. Hunter says he just laughs.
“What is a pure point?” asks Hunter, who has worked with Rose the last two seasons. “I came in during a time when they did not want you to be a scorer (at point). They try to make you conform, but it takes away from who you are. It put me on my heels. You want guys to play in the comfort zone for what they do. Imagine if Derrick played with (three point) shooters and could space the floor. He’d get double figure assists and you could not stop him.”
Hunter said teams know the basic plays and know the Bulls reliance on the pick and roll. It’s no secret.
“He beats a double team and then beats the help and then he’ll finish above the bigs at the rim,” Hunter said laughing at what he just said. “Now his defense is coming. By next year, I think he’ll be in that MVP talk. That’s big.”
So I decided to give it some thought.
It is just Rose’s second season, but this is some pretty special stuff already. And I’ve tried to think if there’s ever been a point guard like Rose with that kind of power and offensive explosion above the rim. I couldn’t really think of any.
So I made a list of the players primarily point guards in the Basketball Hall of Fame and offer my ranking:
I left off Pete Maravich, Dave Bing, Gail Goodrich and Jerry West who were big scorers but also facilitators in an era when guards were just guards.
I think when he’s done Rose could rank behind only Oscar and Magic. Obviously, a lot has to occur and he has to be fortunate to avoid injury and get some better teammates. But Rose’s talent is extraordinary and something most around the NBA never have seen before.
It’s something now to enjoy. Next act: Sunday.