When the Detroit Pistons signed Derrick Rose in the offseason the move was met with mixed reactions.
Some felt it was a home run while others feared the team actually downgraded from Ish Smith to Rose.
Rose returns tonight to face his hometown Chicago Bulls, and five games into the season, he has been nothing short of a grand slam.
With the Pistons lacking their top two shot creators from last season in Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson, Rose has been asked to carry a much bigger load than expected. Currently, Rose has the highest usage rate of his career at 35.4%.
For context, during Rose’s MVP season he had a usage rate of 32.2%.
Two years ago, or maybe even during this past offseason, if you told people that Rose would have a usage rate that high, they’d likely assume things are going very wrong for both Rose and his team.
And while the shorthanded Pistons are struggling a bit , they have been competitive and had a lead in the second half in every game outside of the Toronto Raptors loss.
As for Rose’s individual play? It’s been spectacular — with one important caveat.
Turnovers. He’s averaging 3.8 a game, which is a career-high. That is not uncommon for someone with an astronomical usage rate, and, hopefully, things settle down once the team is back to full strength and has more balance and creation throughout the lineup.
Despite Rose playing great ball, and everyone knowing too much is being placed on his shoulders in this young season, he isn’t giving himself a pass for his turnover issues.
“I think I’ve been terrible. Just my turnovers ... having four or five a game ... especially being a point guard and being back in that position.”
Rose might not be willing to give himself a pass, but I will.
Through the Pistons first five games, Rose is averaging 20.4 points and 6.2 assists. He’s shooting 55% from the field, and 94% from the free-throw line, which is good for a true shooting percentage of 60.8.
What makes this even more insane is the fact Rose is putting up these efficient numbers off the bench in only 25 minutes per game.
It’s not unreasonable to think if Dwane Casey could play Rose more minutes, the Pistons could be 4-1 instead of 2-3.
But Casey has made it clear he’s going to be strict with the minute restriction for Rose.
“I’m not going to sit here and ramp up and ruin a guy’s comeback career by getting excited and playing him 30 minutes and losing him for 2 or 3 games,” Casey said. “We’re going to be disciplined with it and still try to win the game.”
For what it’s worth, Rose feels the same way. When asked about playing heavier minutes this early into the season, Rose said, “Not this soon. It plays a part in playing through fatigue. It’s still early. I’m in shape ... it takes some time to adjust to that.”
Rose is looking more explosive then he did last season in his comeback year with the Minnesota Timberwolves and is getting to the spots he wants.
His explosivenes, combined with his ability to keep defenses honest is what has made him nearly unguardable. Rose is getting to the paint at will, and when he does, he’s finishing. He’s shooting an insane 72% from inside 5 feet of the basket.
Part of his success at the rim is because of how lethal he is in space. His twitchy ball-handling and pull-up game has forced defenses to play him tight, and he’s able to get by defenders for an easier look at the rim. So far, Rose is shooting an absurd 64% from 10-16 feet and 47% from 16 feet to the 3-point line.
Big men are hesitant to step up on Rose because they know he can explode around them. Rose has made them pay with pull-ups and floaters, like the one seen above.
Defenses are so afraid of Rose getting all the way to the basket, as you see in the above clip, they’re exercising an extreme level of drop coverage in the pick and roll. Rose has just murdered this coverage with his floaters.
And when his defender goes under the screen, Rose makes them pay. In his one poor shooting night of the season, a Pistons win at home against the Indiana Pacers, Rose shot 4-of-16 from the floor. However, late in the game the Pistons still went to their new point guard.
And he came through.
After the game, Casey said that wont be the only time this season the Pistons go to Rose late. “He’s going to be in there to make that decision as long as he’s here.”
The Pistons sit at 2-3 and are obviously missing Jackson and Griffin. No matter how well Rose plays while they’re out, it’s going to be hard for this team to consistently win without those two players.
However, the play of Rose has kept the Pistons in every game they’ve played so far. He’s been their sole shot creator, and he’s more than succeeded when called upon.
After such a bad loss to the defending champions on Wednesday, fans may be feeling a type of way about this team. But, don’t get too down.
Your All-Star center already has two 20-20 games and the superstar of this team, Griffin, is nearing his return to front lines, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News.
If the Pistons can get Griffin and Jackson back to this team soon, along with the play of Rose off the bench, the offensive power of this team would be undeniable.
So far, the early returns on Detroit’s $15 million investment in a once-wilting Rose is blossoming into the steal of the offseason.