INDEPENDENCE (92.3 the Fan) – Derrick Rose is the Cleveland Cavaliers’ starting point guard, for now.
The muddy situation at the lead guard was cleared up twice-over at Monday’s Media Day, as it would announced recently acquired Isaiah Thomas would likely return to the court in January. Head coach Tyronn Lue also announced officially that Rose will be starting at the point when the season begins, a formality with Thomas’ issues.
The potential is obvious with Rose, who signed for the veterans’ minimum to be back in a ‘winning environment,’ after a tumultuous season in New York.
The year was not bad for the former MVP from a personal performance standpoint, as he averaged 18 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds over 64 contests. His point and rebound totals were the highest marks since 2011-12 when Rose suffered the first of his major knee injuries.
Rose being unheralded was a topic of conversation often at Media Day, with LeBron James lauding his former rival and saying he had ‘a lot to prove.’
Rose himself doubled-down on that idea.
“I’m 28,” he said. “People act like I’m 38-years old.”
Yet James had big things to say.
“From competing with him for so many years, especially with Miami when he was in Chicago, the competitor he’s been over the years,” LeBron said. “I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be a teammate of his.”
While, if healthy, Rose still does have the capacity to become something reminiscent of the height of his career, the situation will have to be right. Rose claims the ‘winning environment’ will aid him, and the opportunity is present without Thomas for two months.
But will that environment actually be conducive to Rose’s style of play, and vice versa?
The Cavaliers finished plays on drives to the hoop 26.8 times per game in 2016-17, among the bottom half of the season. Rose, on a Knicks team that finished just ahead of the Warriors for least drives per game (21.8), accounted for 10 of those, the 11th most in the NBA.
Not only does Rose’s game revolve around putting the ball on the floor, he is a poor finisher at the rim, shooting 54.7% at the rim. That mark sets him in the bottom third among point guards.
Stepping into the role held by Kyrie Irving in the past, Rose replicates Irving’s ball dominant nature. 76.4% of Irving’s shots came after having the ball for 2-or-more seconds a season ago, with 76.1% of the same from Rose.
Irving held an eFG% of 68.7% on catch-and-shoot opportunities and a 48.6% mark on pull ups, making his ball-stopping worth it.
The same cannot be said for Rose, who held a miserable 30.9% rate on catch-and-shoots, and 43.3% on pull-ups. Both of those numbers came in the third-most efficient shooting years of Rose’s eight in the league.
For comparison, Isaiah Thomas fits more along the Cavaliers’ previous plans to stretch the floor with a 58.5% eFG on catch-and-shoot, with 53.6% on pull ups.
When Rose spoke about his plans with Lue, the guard was told to continue to put his head down.
“Right when I talked to him, he wanted me to play my game,” Rose said. “Playing my game opens up everybody on the floor when I play aggressive and attack the rim.”
Where Rose most makes sense is in transition, where the Cavaliers ran at the 5th-highest rate in basketball last season, accounting for 1.16 points per possession, also 5th. Being an uber-athletic point guard, the idea of a transition game with Kevin Love was one Rose relished the idea of.
“Playing with him, he opens up the floor, his IQ of the game is high, and the way he outlets the ball with me being on the break, that’s what guards dream for. A big like him,”Rose gushed.
Rose also opined that he was a ‘great passer,’ and that his ability to move the ball was ‘overlooked.’
The soon-to-be 29-year old’s 6.8 assists per 100 possessions and 22.8% assist rate in 2016-17 were a career low, though so was his 11.9% turnover rate.