Tue, Dec 16th 2008, 11:45
From the luxury suites at United Center, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and soon-to-be presidential adviser David Axelrod drew a standing ovation when introduced to the sellout crowd as the Chicago Bulls defeated the New York Knicks last week.
President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team are the top celebrities in the Windy City this winter, but there’s another No. 1 from the South Side who has captivated the city with promise for the future.
Derrick Rose, the first pick overall in this year’s NBA draft and No. 1 on your scorecard, has delivered on every promise in his transition from Simeon Career Academy two years ago to commander-in-chief of the Bulls’ offense at point guard.
“He has that LeBron James-type air about himself, which brings him to be just a natural leader, and excel from level to level,” says Chicago guard Lindsey Hunter, in his 16th year in the NBA.
Constant in any discussion of Rose’s game are his explosiveness, instincts and poise.
“He’s got a great demeanor. It’s just kind of his personality,” rookie Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro says. “He absorbs things very quickly.”
Rose averages a team-high 38.7 minutes, 18.2 points (second to guard Ben Gordon) and 6.3 assists. He is second to O.J. Mayo in scoring among rookies and was the Eastern Conference’s top rookie for November. Rose also became the first Bulls rookie to score 10 points or more in his first 10 games since Michael Jordan in 1984.
He averages just shy of four rebounds a game, and if he can boost that to five and keep his points and assists output, he’ll become just the eighth rookie to average at least 18 points, five assists and five rebounds, joining Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, LeBron and His Airness.
Confidence in rookie
Notice that other name that keeps popping up? Certainly no one is comparing the 20-year-old phenom to the incomparable Jordan, but Rose is earning one distinction after another in the “best since” category. He and the Bulls visit Jordan’s Bobcats in Charlotte on Tuesday night.
The front office wisely downplayed immediate expectations for the 6-3 floor leader, noting point guards frequently take longer to make an impact than a scoring forward such as Michael Beasley, also considered for the No. 1 pick.
But Rose shot down that premise in his first month. Del Negro installed him in charge of the offense, and the importance of his role increased with the thumb injury that will keep sixth-year guard Kirk Hinrich out until midseason.
“It looks like they put it in his hands and let him do it,” veteran Atlanta point guard Mike Bibby says.
Doug Collins, TNT analyst and former NBA coach, says he’s also impressed with Rose’s maturity and “the confidence they have placed in him: ‘Here’s the ball, lead our young team.’ “
His teammates are impressed with his early impact at such a young age and predict even better results once Rose gets to know everyone’s game. “We’re still learning how to play off each other,” says Gordon, averaging 20.9 points, just a half-point below his career high.
Forward Drew Gooden, scoring 12.9 a game, says many of his points come off Rose passes: “We’re starting to get a feel for each other (in) playing a two-man game. He knows where I like to shoot the ball and he’s delivering for me.”
The veterans say Rose’s leadership shows in his play more than his words.
trivontay | on 24/12/08
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