Friday, April 17, 2009

Rose stands alone as this season's top rookie

Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Call him Vinny Del Nostradamus.

First-year Chicago head coach Vinny Del Negro called the Rookie of the Year race over back in January and prematurely awarded the trophy to his point guard, Derrick Rose, saying, "It's not even close," between Rose and the rest of the field. Del Negro may have been pegged as a homer, but he was right.

Brook Lopez might have had a PER that made John Hollinger as excited as somebody who just had Publisher's Clearinghouse come to his front door; O.J. Mayo might have scored 500 more points than this year's scoring title champ, Dwyane Wade, did in his rookie season; and Greg Oden might have had more columns devoted to his potential than Obama had penned about his economic stimulus plan, but none of them matched the season that Rose had.

A true of example of what it means to let your game do the talking, getting the shy and reserved Rose to talk about himself is as tricky as figuring out how to sync up your Twitter messages to your Facebook status. But put him on a court, put the ball in his hands and give him four teammates to run an offense with and you'll see him perform in a way that just screams "future star."

His YouTube mixes-to-games-played-in-the-league-thus-far ratio is prodigious and maybe even better than his 2.5-to-1 assist-turnover ratio. One mix, titled quite simply "Derrick Rose -- The Rookie of the Year -- Bulls mix" features all of the 20-year-old's greatest hits: from the reverse layup against Orlando, to the full extension dunk over Leandro Barbosa to finish a fast break to the way he tormented Philadelphia's Andre Miller with a chase-down block from behind and a yo-yo crossover that left Miller down on the hardwood on his behind.

Utah's Deron Williams, one of the finest two or three point guards in the game today, knows the mixes well.

"I heard about him when I was in college, being in Illinois near the Chicago area," Williams said. "I did some YouTubes on him. I knew he was talented, but this year he's blossoming. I think he's learning the game as a point guard a lot better. He's maturing as most players -- most good players -- do."

And then comes the endorsement from Williams that can't be quantified in statistics, but tells you all you need to know about why Rose is so special:

"I think he might be the fastest player in the NBA," Williams said. "Hands down, his first step in ridiculous."

Not that the numbers aren't impressive or anything.

Rose started out as the No. 1 pick in the Draft and improbably led the Bulls all the way a likely No. 6 seed in the Playoffs.

He finished first among all rookies in assists, second in scoring, eighth in steals and tenth in rebounds per game.

He has Chicago riding a five-game winning streak heading into its season finale with Toronto on Wednesday, tied for the longest current winning streak of any team in the league.

In April he's averaging more points (19.0) and more assists (6.8) than he has in any other month of the season and he's shooting a hard-to-compute 54.7 percent from the field, considering the fact that he's a 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard that shoots 43.8 percent of his shots (523-for-1194 according to's Hot Spots) from the paint in amongst the trees.

Mayo, our choice for runner-up to Rose, agrees with us.

"The Rookie of the Year, I think, is Derrick Rose," Mayo told "He did a great job in leading his team to the playoffs ... it was definitely a tremendous turnaround. He did a good job."

Line of the Week
Michael Beasley (MIA)
April 12 vs. NYK
28 pts, 16 reb, 1 ast, 2 blk
12-19 FG, 3-3 3-PT FG

Mayo added that the two fueled each other by their mutual success. "We were definitely both looking at each other's numbers at the end of every night," he said. "I think it was good for both of us. It definitely got me through the 82 games."

Rose already has bigger things ahead of him than his rank amongst the rookie class with the playoffs right around the corner and further off on the horizon lies a spot on the 2012 Olympics team that Williams, a gold medalist in Beijing, thinks Rose will be ready for.

But for now, it turns out that a Rose is a R.O.Y. by any other name.

Korleone Young Drop of the Week: D.J. Augustin CHA (-1)
Eddie Gottlieb Rise of the Week: A. Randolph GSW (+1)

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