In today’s NBA, the importance of having an elite point guard cannot be overstated. The game has shifted focus away from big men and is now centered on quick guards. The league has become more of a shooting league. The tempo has sped up. For the most part, offensive systems are about run-and-gun, trying to score as much as possible in the least possible time. Of the 30 teams in the NBA, 24 of them average over 100 points per game.
The New York Knicks have lacked elite talent at the point guard position over the last decade and a half. At one of the most important positions in the NBA, the Knicks have used players like Chris Duhon, Raymond Felton, and Jose Calderon. These players are respectable at their positions, but are by no means elite to provide dribble-penetration that can create a shot for their teammates or create a shot for themselves in crunch time.
However, this year the Knicks have Derrick Rose. Rose might not be the All-Star from his early days with the Chicago Bulls, but he is still one of the better point guards in this league. He gives the Knicks guard-play, a dimension that has eluded them.
The Knicks Must Keep Derrick Rose
Rose’s ability to penetrate the defense helps create shots for the team. It gives the Knicks an option to get open shots. The person it benefits the most is Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is on the back end of his career. He can still score with the best of them, but the game is getting faster. There are times where he looks like he is running in slow motion.
With Rose as the point guard, Anthony can become the “Olympic Melo.” This version of Anthony scores at will because he doesn’t need to do much on the offense end. He can camp out on the perimeter and gets the ball in the perfect positions to score. This happens when Rose penetrates and kicks out to Anthony. When he is wide open, Anthony’s shooting percentage is much better. He also saves energy for the defensive side of the ball.
Along with Anthony, the entire offense benefits from Rose. But Rose can also finish at the rim. Knicks have not been a benefactor of easy baskets in their decade and a half struggle. With Rose, there have already been times in games where Rose looks unstoppable when he puts his head down and attacks. It keeps the defense honest, and when they fall off of him, he gets open looks from mid-range.
Rose is also a big guard. He cannot be pushed around by other guards. He has a great build and this allows him to take contact and still be able to finish around basket. If Coach Hornacek is given full autonomy to run the team the way he prefers and not bound to Phil Jackson’s triangle, Rose can run this offense much better. There would be more pick-and-rolls and the tempo would fasten.
It is hard to forget that Rose is still only 27 years old. He’s been in the league for so long that this fact is easily overlooked. Rose can still be built around. The centerpiece would still be Kristaps Porzingis, but with Rose, Porzingis and Knicks have a nice foundation to build off.
Why Keeping Rose is Risky
Knicks should keep Rose, but not all things are rosy. There are questions about his health and Rose is an injury bug. For a basketball player, knees are everything. His past surgeries on both knees are a huge cause of concern. Earlier this year, he also missed some games due to back spasms.
Although the Knicks would have to avoid paying a max deal, they need Rose. It’s a very important position that hasn’t been as rock solid as it is this season. There are risks for keeping him, but the rewards outweigh those risks. Keeping Rose long-term help the Knicks be competitive year in and year out.