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Derrick Rose Player Preview: On a mission to be the NBA’s best backup PG and on the floor in crunch time

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What to expect during Derrick Rose’s first season with the Detroit Pistons

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Derrick Rose Christopher Daniels, Detroit Bad Boys

Detroit’s lack of available cash this offseason meant the Pistons spent the free agent season ballin’ on a budget. Derrick Rose, the youngest MVP the NBA has ever produced, signed a two-year deal worth roughly $15 million and is pegged to be Detroit’s backup point guard heading into the season.

Sure, he’s not your younger brother’s Derrick Rose but there is still enough juice to make the squeeze worthwhile.

Last year and over the summer

2018-19 Game Log

  • Derrick Rose participated in 51 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2018-19 season and started 13 of them.
  • He missed a few games thanks to run-of-the-mill bumps and bruises in the early part of the season, but was forced to sit for final 15 games of the schedule due to bone chips in his elbow that were successfully removed March 23.
  • Exploded for 50 points on Halloween night against the Utah Jazz.
  • During 41 games before the All-Star Game, Rose shot 40% on 3-pointers at 3.2 attempts per game. During the 10 games after the break, he shot 7% with 1.4 attempts per game on those very same 3-point looks.
  • On the back end of six back-to-backs, Rose connected on 54% from the floor and scored nearly 16 points per game in just under 23 minutes per contest.
  • Per Cleaning the Glass, 36% of all Derrick Rose field goal attempts came at the rim, 47% from mid-range, and 18% from beyond the arc.

Over the summer break, Rose completed - at minimum - two weighted pull-throughs, four lunges, and six off-balance jumps. Undeniable proof:

The positive news for Pistons fans is that, according to whatever Overtime is, this awe-inspiring montage was all the evidence they needed to unequivocally determine that Derrick Martel Rose was, in fact, on a “mission.” And 33K people somehow agreed with their verdict. Personally, I’d like to see a bit more documentation and hear just a smidge more eyewitness testimony before coming to such a bold conclusion, but I appreciate Overtime’s energy.

He also released a new memoir:

And became only the 8th player in NBA history to have a signature shoe with more than 10 consecutive models. For those keeping track at home, The D Rose 3 are my favorite. I’m a size 9.5 in the off-chance you’re feeling generous.

There, you’re all caught up on notable Derrick Rose news.

Big question

Of course his injury history is concerning (duh) and the 3-point shooting stability is another major question (double duh), so let’s go down a path slightly less traveled.

The Pistons needed to acquire additional bucket-getters in free agency to help shore up a dormant offense, and Derrick Rose certainly fits the description. We know why Detroit recruited Rose, but why did Rose choose Detroit?

This is the type of answer everyone wants to hear:

With a straight face, Rose says, “While I’m in the game, I want to win a championship — that’s what I really want to do.” Commendable, sure, but listen good people of DBB, I was born at night but not last night.

There is zero chance any 2019 free agent with functioning eyeballs and a desire to win championships would embrace Detroit’s current less-than-ideal situation. It’s like an average Joe accepting a position at Blockbuster Video and trying to sell his family on moving to Oregon because the VHS king has a chance to overtake Netflix over the next two years.

So, again, why did he choose to become a member of the Pistons?

My two cents...

Rose surveyed the NBA scene and zeroed in on Reggie Jackson as a maybe-out-the-door starting point guard on a decent squad that, he believes, can be outperformed. Simply put, I think he wants to play, and I think he wants to start. Harnessed correctly, it’s an attitude that most hoop heads will applaud. He should want to start, right? But he won’t.

Rose isn’t here to win championships (his reasoning), and he’s lying to himself if he thinks he’s assuming starting point guard duties (my reasoning). Let’s cut the shit, why did he sign with Detroit? If the true answer is anything other than to fill a clearly defined role, then this pitstop won’t end pretty.

After Chicago, he had layovers in New York, Cleveland, and Minnesota in which the entire NBA galaxy watched and collectively wondered how much premium gas remained in the tank. Wanting to prove critics wrong is a natural response most people can relate to. Rose, however, is in for a rude awakening if he’s harboring any inclination that 313 is the best area code to prove he’s still capable of breaking bread at the alpha’s lunch table.

Detroit didn’t sign Rose to be the great player he once was, they signed the former-MVP to be a great backup point guard. Is he OK with that? Naturally, everything has seemed hunky-dory during the preseason, but what about the next 82? What happens when they hit a four-game losing streak in December?

He’s absolutely perfect for the second unit, spot starts and finishes, and frequent possession takeovers. Expecting anything more is placing Derrick Rose above the team.

Derrick Rose Christopher Daniels, Detroit Bad Boys

Projected role

Rose is a clear upgrade in talent over Ish Smith, Reggie Jackson’s primary backup for the three previous seasons, but that isn’t much of a hurdle to jump over, and it certainly doesn’t indicate imminent success.

Smith and Rose are both fast-twitch dependent and can get into the paint with ease. Derrick is a bit more herky-jerky and, overall, a larger human. At this point, we seem to be done with their similarities.

Don’t get it twisted, Ish, we love you and you’ll never have to buy a drink in Detroit ever again (as long as it’s happy hour).

While the primary focus will be presiding over the second-unit, he’ll almost certainly log meaningful reps, including closing games, with Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and even Reggie Jackson:

I guess that depends on your definition of “big.”

Rose will seek to push the ball no matter whom he shares the court with and, more often than not, that’s a good thing. Prepare yourself for one-man fastbreaks and prepare to take the highs with a scattering of lows:

Per Synergy, he averaged 1.192 PPP on transition attempts putting him in the 69th percentile of NBA hoopers.

When Rose chooses to tap the brakes, Markieff Morris, another 2019 free agent scooped up by the Pistons, will be provided with ample opportunities to hoist second-unit trailing threes:

One quirk that stood out while watching tape of Rose in Minnesota was the high volume of no-pass possessions (as in, Derrick is the only one to touch the ball during any given possession) he led. For instance, this random game against the San Antonio Spurs:

I’m not necessarily saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing, I’m just saying it’s a thing you should look for.

In the half court, Rose flourished in PNR situations (.948 PPP) as a Timberwolf and there is no reason to believe those positive results shouldn’t translate in Detroit. The Pistons’ variety of bigs will provide both rolling and popping options but Rose, likely, will be prioritizing his own look:

And that’s cool with me. As mentioned earlier, Rose owns a high rate of mid-range field goal attempts. Whether it’s out of the PNR or, really, any other action, how does that tendency transfer into Casey’s shot spectrum preference?

We’re all expecting big things from third-year sharpshooter Luke Kennard who, going into the season, will be paired alongside Rose in the backcourt coming off the bench.

Kennard will destroy drop or sagging PNR defense more times than not:

Please(!), defending bigs, I dare you to drop on Luke.

But for the duo to consistently succeed, Rose must make the defense pay when teams force the ball out of Kennard’s hands:

Those must be regularly converted into points if Detroit has any thoughts of maximizing their talent. On way too many occasions last year, the second team’s offense was toothless thanks to empty swing or ball-reversal possessions like below:

Can’t happen again.

If you’re a fan of Reggie Jackson’s one-handed floater in the lane, don’t be shy, there must be a few of you, then Derrick Rose only has one thing to say:

Thanks, third-best Joker.

His signature shot:

Billy Zane, how would you describe Derrick Rose and Reggie Jackson’s 2019-20 season?

May the best floater win!

No, he’s not Derrick Rose of 2011, but he’s our Derrick Rose now and I can dig it. Can you?