NBA Reflections | Derrick Rose's MVP Season (2010/2011)
Three months into 2019 and Rose is having a resurgent season where he is posting some of the best numbers he has had for four years. This includes the emotional 50-point performance he had against Utah back in November 2018.
His new-found form is incredible when you consider the journey he has gone through; coming back despite several catastrophic knee injuries. What’s most interesting to me, however, is the way Rose has changed his game - from the 22-year-old MVP to the 30-year-old coming off the bench.
So, let’s look back eight years and see just how a young Derrick Rose won MVP.
The 2010 – 2011 NBA season was one full of compelling story lines. Miami would put together the ‘big three’, Dirk would get his Championship, the Celtic/Lakers teams of the 2000’s would begin their decline and the Chicago Bulls would finish with the best record in the NBA, lead by the youngest ever MVP in Derrick Rose - one of the most dynamic and exciting point guards in the history of the NBA.
Derrick Rose was an explosive guard who could beat anyone off the dribble using his elite ball handling and he would score with some of the best around-the-basket finishing you will ever see. Although still primarily scoring with lay-ups and mid-range jumper shots, Rose would try adding the three-point shot to his arsenal with some success. His three-point attempts would go from 0.8 to 4.8 and he’d make them at a rate of 32.2%. Although you couldn’t describe this as high level three point shooting it did mean defenders would step up on him more around the perimeter, allowing him to beat them more consistently with vicious cross-overs and hesitations. To this day I don’t believe any player has had a 'hesitation cross over' as good as peak D. Rose.
Early in that season it was clear that Rose had taken a big step up. He was now, by far, the Bulls' best and most productive player, putting up multiple 30pt+ scores within the first 20 games. This was significant as the team, led by Tom Thibodeau, was already known for its incredible defence and Rose’s ascension to an elite offensive player meant the team was no longer one dimensional.
Nearly every elite team has someone they rely on to score when the game is on the line and Rose had become that.
That season, the Bulls would cement themselves as one of best teams in the NBA, repeatedly beating the newly formed Miami Heat roster featuring a prime LeBron James.
This became quite the rivalry and one which Derrick Rose always showed up for.
The Bulls would sweep Miami with stellar performances from Rose in each game - the best being a 38 point, 8 assist game.
Beating the previous year’s MVP every time you play them is certainly a reason for your MVP stock to go through to roof, but you still need to be a stand out player stat wise in order to catch the attention of the voters.
Rose finished the season averaging 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds. At that time only seven other players had ever averaged that stat line, putting him alongside some the greatest of all time.
However, it’s hard to run from the fact that the Bulls' NBA best record of 61-21 was a primary reason as to why Rose would be the NBA's youngest MVP ever.
If you look at the stats of the second and third players in MVP voting that year - Dwight Howard and Lebron James - they are certainly comparable. LeBron still being the best player in the league and Dwight dominating on both ends of the floor, they were both perfectly legitimate contenders.
Often MVP voting comes down to who has the best storyline...
The 22-year-old hometown hero leading his team to the best record in the NBA was simply too irresistible to the voters that year.
Unfortunately, this story does not have the happiest of endings.
In the playoffs, the Miami Heat would finally kick into gear and beat the Bulls 4-1 in the Eastern Conference finals. A disappointing end to the season considering this would be the most vulnerable Miami team the Bulls were likely to face - The Heat went on to lose against the Dallas Mavericks in the final.
As we all know, Rose would go on to struggle severely with knee injuries.
Maybe the story of Derrick Rose has a fairy tale ending – we are already seeing flashes of his vintage self this season. Perhaps he becomes a valuable bench player on a contending team? It’s possible. One thing I can guarantee, however, is he will never stop striving to be great. He continues to be one of the hardest working players in the NBA and a fascinating narrative to follow.