The return of Derrick Rose would finally give us the playoff match-ups we’ve been patiently waiting to see. A second round playoff match-up between LeBron James and Derrick Rose is long overdue, but it may be better for fans to wait just a little while longer for this dream to come true.
Rose’s return means that Nate Robinson’s time on the court will be limited. Robinson has been a game changer for the Bulls in Rose’s absence. Robinson recently saved the Bulls from defeat by scoring a last minute shot against the Brooklyn Nets and scoring 12 of 19 points in the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic.
Benching Robinson now wouldn’t be the smartest decision for Tom Thibodeau to make because the Derrick Rose that we’ve watched transform the Bulls may not return. The former MVP will not be as valuable to his team as he was before unless he fully recovers. The purpose of regular season games is greater than scoring points and qualifying for the playoffs. The 82 games allow for players like Rose to transition back into starting lineups so that they can better execute in the playoffs.
If the All-Star returns during the playoffs he should ride the bench for the majority of the first round. His presence shouldn’t disturb the chemistry and momentum that the Bulls have built, it should add to their progress. If the Bulls rely on Rose and expect him to instantly recreate magic they will not make it out of the first round.
If this were mid-season and the Bulls were in a comfortable position in the eastern conference then it wouldn’t matter how many minutes Rose plays or if he starts or not. But since we’re in playoff season the time Rose spends on the court and his physical abilities is a major concern; Rose has stated throughout his recovery that he doesn’t feel ready to return.
The Bulls have to remember that just because Rose is transitioning doesn’t mean that the other players in the NBA are too; I doubt if the Nets and the Heat will play less competitively because of Rose’s inability to play at the playoff level.
Regardless of the progress he’s made and how comfortable he feels shooting jumpers, he will never know if he’s ready to play until he actually plays in an NBA game. Unfortunately, neither will we.
If Rose returns this season, he’ll definitely touch the ball, but his presence won’t be felt until next season.