Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2010-11 NBA MVP Has Been Kissed By A Rose

When looking back on this season in professional basketball, the exemplary play of one special individual stands out from all his other cohorts. The theme that best defines what he has done this year can be best explained through a lyric from the R&B artist Seal.

“Now that your rose is in bloom, a light hits the gloom on the gray.”

While LeBron James and Dwight Howard are bright illuminations this season, the rose that is blooming over those two is none other than the Chicago Bulls’ own Derrick Rose. The former Memphis Tigers star is well on his way to winning his first MVP at the young age of 22.

With his team in cruise control on their way to the top seed in the Eastern Conference, Rose is the driving force at getting them there. The trip upwards has been no easy drive for the point guard and his team. Other opponents were regarded as the favorites at the start of the 2010-11 season.

The defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics have one of the deepest lineups in the league and a roster filled with former (and current) All-Stars and MVP winners. There’s the Miami Heat, who were delegated as the team of the future and favorites in the East this year after the off season. The Orlando Magic have a plethora of shooters surrounding the most dominant big man in the game, who causes havoc in the paint on both ends of the court.

Despite all that stood before them, it is the Bulls that are now the toast of the league and Rose deserves to reap the benefits of their 2010-11 success with the highest personal honor in the NBA: the Most Valuable Player award.

What the young point guard has done this season can be classified as incredible, even possibly unheard of given what he has to work with. Although the Bulls were able to nab one of the top free agents during the off season in Carlos Boozer (who, by the way, is having his worst output statistically since 2005-06), this team didn’t have a huge makeover with their player personnel. Aside from a few minor changes with their role players, this is essentially the same team that was the final seed of the Eastern conference with a 41-41 record a year ago.

Now, they are twenty wins better this season and will go into the playoffs with the best record in the East. Those improvements can be attributed to Rose, who has increased his performance and abilities immensely.

Even though the third year player entered the league as a cornerstone that any general manager can build his team around, his skills were still limited and constricted depending upon his point of attack on the court. A ball of fire that can get to any spot on the court with his deceptive quickness and impressive body control, the book on Rose was to keep him on the perimeter because of his inability to hit from three-point range.

In just this season alone, he has made four times as many treys as he has scored in the first two years combined. Such a vast improvement has allowed his game to expand because defenders must now take his range seriously, which creates more space for him to attack the rim.

Although his shooting from behind the arc is the biggest eye-opener this year, it isn’t the only reason why he is such a better player this season. Aside from field goal percentage, Rose’s statistics are up in every major category (assists, steals, blocks, points, free throw percentage). These increases illustrate his willingness to become a better player and leader for his team, which is evident given what he and his team have achieved in 2010-11.

Those achievements should pay off with the point guard hoisting the MVP award, which would be even more amazing due to the history of past winners at his position. Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Allen Iverson, and Steve Nash are the only point guards to ever win this award. With basketball being a pre-dominantly big man sport, it’s mind-boggling to see a player with such a small stature take control of the NBA as Rose has this year.

In the end, seeing anyone other than Rose win the MVP would be a slap in the face to him. The idea that someone else can contend with him for the award is laughable and every ballot will most likely have first place next to his name.

Rose has been blossoming all year long, but he’ll be in full bloom when the lights of the United Center shine down on him and he’s hoisting the MVP trophy in front of his fans.

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