When the New York Knicks traded for veteran point guard Derrick Rose, nobody expected him to be such an influential piece this season. The three-time All-Star is averaging 12.9 points, 3.9 assists, and is shooting .432 from the field. In other words, he has been fantastic for a team that desperately needed support at the position.
To showcase just how influential Rose has been, let’s take a look at his last performance against New Orleans Pelicans when he scored 23 points. Rose shot 9-of-17 from the field and 2-of-4 from three-point land, also connecting on 3-of-4 free throws. His biggest moment came in the final seconds of the game, as the Pelicans allowed him a free run to the basket, but the Knicks needed three points. His agility and speed drew attention, forcing a perimeter defender to commit inside, kicking the ball out to Reggie Bullock, who drained a three-point shot to tie the game with about two seconds left on the clock.
The Knicks went on to win by 10 points in overtime, extending their winning streak to six and displaying a change in mentality compared to the past few seasons. Rose understands that this is a special situation with players who are all mentally on the same page, which can oftentimes be the demise or success of any given team.
“It’s great being on a young team where everybody is locked in, everybody loves playing with one another and everyone is on the same page — which is to win games,” Rose said. “So it’s perfect.”
Head coach Tom Thibodeau has Rose coming off the bench, utilizing his veteran mentality and instant offensive production to fuel the team. While he is coming off the bench, he played 35 minutes compared to Elfrid Payton’s 20 in the victory over New Orleans. It is clear that Derrick offers more on both sides of the ball, including the ability to manage the tempo of the game.
“With this team, I don’t have to do much” said Rose, who recovered from a nasty battle with COVID-19 last month. “When I was in Chicago, I always had the pressure of trying to score 25 or 30 points every night just to have a chance. Whereas here, I can kind of see what the game needs and adjust.”
Thibodeau also chimed in to give his two cents, and it is clear that he understands how to use the 32-year-old PG. With the amount of experience he’s had in the NBA, he knows how to shift momentum and control the tempo of a contest. That skill paired with the ability to maximize the players on the floor is special. Rose has been an absolute godsend for the Knicks this season and might even be worthy of a one-year extension in 2022.
“He did it early on, like most young players, with his talent. And he didn’t have the experience that he has now,” Thibodeau said. “So he has the mental part now. You combine the mental with the talent and you’re getting a different type of player. ….With the experiences he’s had, he’s learned a lot over the years.”