COLUMN: Why, Tom?

Derrick Rose is now a member of the Timberwolves.

It took every bit of strength to keep myself from projectile-vomiting everywhere while typing that sentence.

For some reason, head coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau thinks it’s a good idea to add the former MVP to his roster.

I disagree, Thibs.

Last year, as a member of the New York Knicks, there were certainly some flashes of the old D-Rose. He had several nostalgic, explosive moments that made me think, “Now THAT is the Derrick Rose we grew to know and love.”

During his one-year stint in New York, Rose averaged 18 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists on 47 percent from the field – nothing to scoff at.

Rose still had to heavily rely on his explosiveness though, which is not what it was prior to three major knee injuries.

When a player like Rose goes through multiple severe knee injuries like that, they have to add more to their game to compensate for the lost step. Rose has not done that.

He does not shoot the three well (21.7 percent last year on only 60 attempts), does not get to free throw line often for someone who prefers driving to the rim (4 attempts/game in ’16-17) and isn’t much of a playmaker (4.4 assists/game last year, 1.6/game this year).

Earlier this season as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Rose took a brief stint away from basketball to contemplate ending his career.

It has been a frustrating, injury-plagued season for Rose thus far. He has appeared in only 16 games; averaging 9.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.8 turnovers per game.

After his hiatus, he decided to return to the Cavs, only to be traded to Utah and then waived by the Jazz.

Now he finds himself on a Wolves team set to make the playoffs.

Sure, the T-Wolves definitely needed another bench player to bolster the rotation, as the bench guys have consisted of Tyus Jones, Jamal Crawford and Gorgui Dieng since Jimmy Butler’s injury.

That being said, Rose does not “bolster” this team in any way … other than making sure the medical staff will be on its toes at all times to prepare for another destroyed knee.

Plus, the T-Wolves already have two rotation point guards in Jones and Jeff Teague.

Jones has been great in limited minutes with the Wolves, so it would be in the team’s best interest to not have Rose cut into his minutes. I’ve said it many times before and I will say it again: give Tyus Jones more minutes. The team is just better on both ends of the floor when he’s in the game, especially with the starters.

Rose has a long injury history, can’t shoot, doesn’t get to the free throw line, isn’t nearly as explosive as his younger self and currently averages more turnovers than assists. So what does Thibs see in him?

Thibs sees what could have been in Chicago. The Bulls had the MVP-caliber point guard in Rose, up-and-coming Jimmy Butler, and Joakim Noah and Luol Deng in their prime. Had Rose not gotten injured, I think this team certainly could have been a perennial title contender, if not an NBA champion.

I think this continues to linger in Thibodeau’s head, as he has not adapted to the modern NBA.

When the opposing team sensibly pulls their starters to give them a rest, Thibs leaves his guys in, thinking that will give the Wolves a prime opportunity to take control of the game.

Doing the best to win each game is important, but for long-term consideration, running your best players into the ground by having all of them play over 33 minutes per game is not a great idea.

Look at Luol Deng. During the three full seasons he played under Thibodeau in Chicago, he averaged 39 minutes per game. Now, at 32 years old, Deng has appeared in only one game for the Lakers this season after playing just 56 games last year.

Since the start of the 2013-14 season, Deng has missed 206 games.

Noah is in the same boat. The 33-year-old, former All-Star center played heavy minutes for Thibs from 2012-2014 and is in the midst of a third consecutive injury-ridden season. He played 29 games in ’15-16, 46 games last season and has appeared in only 7 games this season, missing a grand total of 158 games over the past three seasons.

Hopefully, Butler comes back at full-strength from his meniscus tear and is able to be healthy for the rest of his career. It would not be shocking if this becomes a trend for not only Butler, but for his Wolves teammates later in life.

Don’t get me wrong, Thibs is a basketball genius. His fingerprints are all over the NBA and is a huge reason why teams like the Warriors and Rockets are built the way they are.

His defensive schemes as an assistant coach with the Celtics and as head coach of the Bulls were nothing short of brilliant. He would clog the ball side of the floor with four defenders which would disrupt passing lanes and penetration to the basket. He left a well-ranged defender on the other side of the floor to counter back cuts and ball reversals.

His defenses made the isolated players’ job very challenging, and when the ball moved to the other side of the floor the Thibodeau defense would recover and reform.

Another defensive tactic of Thibodeau’s was to “ice” the side pick-and-roll. The objective of the side pick-and-roll is to have the ball in a playmaker’s hand and allow him to get to the middle of the floor, where the entirety of the court and each offensive player is in play. Thibs forced the ball-handler into the corner and away from the screener to restrict his options and passing windows.

Thibs’ defensive schematics are some of the most lethal in the history of the NBA, but as other teams such as the Warriors, Rockets and Spurs adapted by adding unselfish three-point shooters and ball movement, Thibs didn’t.

Though he started a defensive trend that forced teams to start playing a different brand of offensive basketball – he hasn’t gotten the memo.

Thibs is still trying to build a roster that fit the circa-2010 NBA. The best and deepest rosters of today’s game are loaded with three-and-D guys who shoot the ball well and can effectively guard multiple positions.

The Wolves need more guys like this. Players like Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins have huge upside on both ends of the floor, but the team needs a versatile bench player that can give 20-25 quality minutes per game.

It would be insane if a reunion with Butler, Taj Gibson and Thibs turned Rose into an effective rotation player for the Wolves, but I highly doubt it.

I see no scenario where this turns out to be a good decision by Minnesota. It saddens me to say it, but I don’t know if Rose can benefit any NBA team at this point. And if there is a good fit for him, it’s not with the Timberwolves.

The one silver lining I can find with is that Rose will not be on the playoffs roster since he was added to the team after March 1.

Between running his players into the ground and trying to make the T-Wolves the “TimberBulls,” Thibs has forced me to burn all my property on Tom Thibodeau Island.

Why, Tom?






Author: thrillswithjmills

Food lover located in Fargo, N.D. Chicken strip aficionado; blogger; aspiring TikTok superstar.

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