Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
I’m back with a new Five this week after taking a break last Friday, the result of an impromptu weekend getaway with friends (and a lack of time to have a column ready earlier in the week). Thanks again to everyone who offered up suggestions for future articles, I’ve made a note of them and will see what I can do with those topics! As it happens, one of KevinParker13’s suggestions was actually something that was on top of my list for last week’s column before I decided to skip it: my thoughts on Derrick Rose’s latest injury.
Truth be told, I’m kind of glad that I pushed this topic forward a week, as news broke following Rose’s surgery that not only offered more perspective, but also optimism. The latest procedure is not expected to put Rose on the shelf until next season, with the current prognosis projecting a return in time for the Playoffs. Nevertheless, Rose is out of action for the moment – as is Jimmy Butler – and there are still questions to ponder regarding his injury woes, and his future.
1. How unlucky can one player be?
I mean, seriously. I wouldn’t say that he’s the unluckiest player in NBA history, because Grant Hill had some terrible luck trying to continue his career with the Orlando Magic after breaking his ankle during his final season with the Detroit Pistons. Like Hill, Anfernee Hardaway was pegged as part of the next generation of NBA superstars, but multiple knee injuries and the resulting surgeries cut short his time as an All-Star calibre player. And of course, before them, there was Bill Walton. Walton was still an NBA Champion, a Hall of Famer, and named as one of the 50 Greatest Players of All-Time, but his pro career was severely hampered by injuries.
Rose is certainly becoming one of those unlucky players, but it should be noted that he’s not the only player who has suffered a serious injury in recent years. It feels like quite a few players are going down with major knee and Achilles tendon injuries these past few seasons. Now, significant injuries are nothing new, as the aforementioned players can attest, and it’s a risk that comes with the nature of the sport. Still, I do wonder whether there are issues with shoe designs, or current strength and conditioning techniques, or even something different about the finish and painted decals on the courts…some common factor. Or maybe it is just bad luck.
2. What kind of impact will his latest injury have?
The good news is that this would appear to be the least severe knee injury that Derrick Rose has suffered during his career. The bad news, of course, is that it’s another knee injury that’s significant enough to require surgery and extended time on the sidelines. It’s a tough break for the Bulls as they try to improve their seeding and get in gear for a run in the Playoffs, but the prognosis is promising and as I said, the timetable for his return has him back on the floor in time for the postseason.
Still, there’s those nagging questions about what kind of impact his injury will have. Anfernee Hardaway, who obviously knows a thing or two about career-altering knee injuries, opined that Rose is no longer playing at full speed. Will Rose bounce back as Russell Westbrook did, or will his game be permanently affected? Will confidence and team chemistry prove to be issues, with precious little time to sort things out before the Playoffs tip off? And, because it will inevitably come up, will he elect to sit out the rest of the year, even once he’s cleared to return? Unfortunately, the Bulls, Bulls fans like myself, and even Derrick Rose himself, can only wait and see.
3. Is Rose becoming the next NBA “What If”?
Of course, one can’t help but think about the worst case scenario. This is the fourth straight year that Derrick Rose’s season has been affected by injury. A potential title run was derailed in 2012 following the initial injury, and he also missed 27 regular season games that year. Understandably – but still controversially, given the way it was handled – he missed the entire 2013 season. He played just ten games last season before another injury put him on the shelf. As of this column, he’s appeared in 46 games this season, after missing a few contests early on due to an unfortunate ankle sprain. That’s a significant chunk of his prime, down the drain.
Whether it’s the suggestion that he was unworthy of that Most Valuable Player nod in 2011, or his lack of appearances in uniform these past few seasons, I believe there are fans and analysts alike who don’t appreciate just how good Derrick Rose is when he’s healthy. However, it’s been a while since we’ve seen that Derrick Rose on a consistent basis, so it does bring back memories of the aforementioned Grant Hill and Anfernee Hardaway. Hill did eventually get healthy and ended up having a very respectable career, albeit not as impressive as his early years with the Detroit Pistons. You can’t help but wonder what’s to come, and what could have been, for Derrick Rose.
4. Where to now for the Bulls?
This question was a little murkier last week, when it looked as though Rose was headed for another season-ending surgery. As it stands, it would appear that they’ll try to hold down the fort until Rose and Butler return, then pick up where they left off, with intentions of being a contender in the East. In the short term, that’s pretty much all they can do. Well, they might be able to pick up someone like Nate Robinson, who played well for them a couple of years ago, though it remains to be seen whether even he would crack Thibbs’ rotation this late in the season.
Beyond this season, though? That’s when you start to wonder what they can, and should do. I’ve seen strong suggestions that the Bulls should trade Derrick Rose, usually alongside criticism that they haven’t already. The thing is, that’s easier said than done. Teams won’t be lining up to offer their best assets for a player who has a big contract and is coming off multiple knee injuries. They’ll pose the question to the Bulls: if you’re confident that he’ll recover and be back to his old self, why are you trading him? I believe that Rose will play out his contract in Chicago, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean…
5. Fingers crossed
In my rough draft last week, this item was going to be about breaking out the old championship tapes and DVDs, and picking the team I’d most like to see win this year’s title after the Bulls were eliminated. The latter is something I still may have to do, perhaps a little later than I would have predicted last week, but instead, I’m going to talk about optimism. And perhaps a touch of superstition I suppose, since I mentioned crossing my fingers.
There isn’t much the Bulls can do except wait and try to pick up where they left off, but of all the bad news they’ve received in recent years, this has to be the least devastating. Rose has gotten better as the season has worn on, Butler has emerged as an All-Star, Joakim Noah is still doing his thing, and Pau Gasol has looked rejuvenated. If Rose’s latest setback is not as serious as the ones he’s suffered during the past couple of years – as would appear to be the case – then for the moment at least, I’ll try to remain cautiously optimistic.
That’s all for this week. As always, I invite you to have your say in the comments section below, as well as take the discussion to the NLSC Forum. Thanks for checking in, thanks once again for the suggestions last week, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.