A Rose Buds Again: Derrick Rose enjoying career year at 30

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 20: Derrick Rose #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves at American Airlines Center on October 20, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 20: Derrick Rose #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves at American Airlines Center on October 20, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

At the ripe age of 30 years old, and after numerous injury-plagued seasons, Derrick Rose is enjoying his best season to date.

In his second year with his fourth team, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose is playing arguably some of the best basketball of his career, and even he acknowledges it.

Rose sank a dramatic step-back game-winner versus the Phoenix Suns for a 116-114 victory on January 20th and Bleacher Report interviewed him postgame about this season in comparison to his 2011 MVP season.

Rose said, “To be honest, I think I’m a better player now. My IQ is higher and I think I got the complete package now.”

At age 30, Rose is averaging 18.6 points per game, 4.7 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game; all season-highs since playing for the New York Knicks (16-17). His points per game average, player efficiency rating (19.72) and usage rating (27.0) are the most since the 2011-12 season with the Chicago Bulls.

In Rose’s prime, he won the 2010-11 MVP at 22 years old and 191 days, an NBA record. The University of Memphis product averaged 25 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game. In 2011-12, the NBA was in the midst of a strike and in 39 regular season games for Rose, he averaged 21.8 points per game, 7.9 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per contest.

This season’s statistics aren’t as impressive as his MVP season, but what makes this year a career-best for the former No. 1 overall pick is the personal achievements, the support he’s earned around the NBA from fans and within the Timberwolves organization.

Rose set a career-high 50 points, 34 in the second half, and 15 in the fourth quarter for Minnesota earlier this season in a 128-125 win over the Utah Jazz on October 31, 2018. He’s been locked in by teammates and fans as the closer in the final moments for the Wolves.

Rose nailed the winning free throws and a steal versus the Jazz, and a step-back winner against the Suns last week. He also missed a pair of game-winners as time expired versus the Lakers and Spurs earlier this season.

Rose is more than likely going to be a Western Conference All-Star, deservingly so, but mainly because the fan votes tally 50-percent of all votes. At 30, Rose is a serious contender for the sixth man of the year and most improved player.

This will mark Rose’s fourth All-Star nod and first since the 2011-12 season if he is selected.

In 2012, Rose tore his ACL game one in the first round of the playoffs versus the Philadelphia 76ers with 1:10 left in the game leading 99-87. The injury forced him to miss the rest of the Bulls playoff-run one season after making the Eastern Conference Finals.

The ACL tear forced him to miss the entire 2012-13 year with the Bulls. Then began the pressure of the comeback and the rest of his injuries started to compile.

Rose has dealt with more injuries than most in his storied career: Left ACL tear (11-12), groin injury (2012), hamstring strains and tendinitis (13-14, 16-17, 17-18) tore right meniscus (13-14, 14-15), orbital bone fracture (15-16), tore left meniscus (16-17), multiple ankle sprains, foot issues and elbow soreness over the course of his career are to name a few.

Since the initial ACL tear in 2012, Rose has missed 276 total games before the start of this season.

Since June 2016, Rose has played for three different teams, the New York Knicks (16-17), Cleveland Cavaliers (17-18) and Minnesota Timberwolves (2018-Present).

On June 23, 2016, the Bulls decided to finally move in a different direction and trade Rose. He was dealt along with Justin Holiday and a second-round pick for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon, and Jerian Grant.

Rose played and started 64 games before the Knicks averaging 18 points, 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds a game in 32.5 minutes. The rebuilding Knicks decided not to renew his contract and draft Frank Ntilikina who’s averaged 5.9 points, 3.1 assists, and 2.2 rebounds in 117 games (23 starts) since then.

Rose agreed and signed to a one-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers on July 24, 2017, to join LeBron James, Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade, Isaiah Thomas and the rest of the aging superstars. That lasted nine games and the experiment was deemed a failure as the Cavaliers did a complete overload.

Rose was also dealt from Cleveland to the Utah Jazz in February of 2018, in part of a three-team trade with the Sacramento Kings. The Cavaliers acquired Rodney Hood and George Hill. The Kings received Iman Shumpert, Joe Johnson, and 2020 second round pick from the Miami Heat via Sacramento. The Jazz received Jae Crowder and Rose.

Two days later, the Jazz elected to waive the former MVP with a goal in mind – to clear cap space.

What seemed like a career-low for the former MVP, Rose was determined to bounce back.

Exactly one month after being cut by the Jazz, his former head coach of the Chicago Bulls, Tom Thibodeau signed Rose to the Timberwolves. He joined former Bulls teammates Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng and Aaron Brooks in Minnesota.

This time around, under Thibodeau’s mentorship, Rose averaged 5.8 points in nine regular season games and 14.2 points per game in Minnesota’s first round playoff exit to the Houston Rockets 4-1.

In his second year with the Timberwolves, Rose is arguably the leader and most popular player on the team. The former MVP has meshed well with the cornerstones of the Wolves, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins in 38 games and 13 starts.

Despite the departure of All-Star Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia and Thibodeau being after a 22-point win; Rose has continued to focus on his craft off the bench and sometimes playing two-guard alongside Jeff Teague.

In that ugly exit, the arrival of Dario Saric and Robert Covington were welcomed. Rose presumed to benefit using his all-too-familiar drive and kick game with two three-point sharpshooters on the wing.

The Timberwolves promoted Ryan Saunders, son of the late Flip Saunders, to be interim Head Coach. Minnesota currently sits in 11th place with a 23-24 record, two games out of the final playoff spot.

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With all of the talent changes, organizational structure changing and the physical toll of the game, Rose still has Minnesota in position to make the playoffs in what might be the toughest conference in all of sports. With as many injuries that D-Rose has endured and defeated, the criticism of the media and fans, through all the hate and the love, maybe not statistically but personally this is Derrick Rose’s personal best season yet.

And it’s not over yet.