David Robinson is one of the best players the league has ever seen. He is by all accounts a superior version of Dwight Howard. The Admiral had strength, quickness, agility, a face up jumper and a solid post game. In addition, he dominated the glass and often embarrassed players foolish enough to attempt to score on him at the rim. Like Howard though, he had this image of a nice guy that liked to smile and thus many thought he lacked a killer instinct.
From a historical standpoint, Robinson should have been a top 10 player. His raw athletic abilities as well as his understanding of basketball should have made him one of the greatest centers ever. But two things crippled how we will always be remembered: his inability to win a title without the greatest power forward ever (Tim Duncan) and the bullying that Hakeem Olajuwon dropped on him after he won the 1993-94 MVP.
Once Dream took the Admiral to task, we never took him seriously again. Ever.
Keep in mind, the year Robinson won the MVP, he averaged 29.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.7 steals and 3.3 blocks per game on 50.7 percent field goal shooting. Doesn’t that line sound like something we should all remember?
This is relevant today because Derrick Rose had a fantastic 2010-11 regular season as well as an impressive showing in the postseason that went beyond statistics; but he essentially fell victim to blunt forced trauma to the head after LeBron James clobbered him in the head with the Maurice Podoloff trophy in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals and helped force Rose shoot a mere 35.0 percent from the field against the Miami Heat in the playoffs.
Mind you, there is a huge difference between Rose and Robinson: the Bulls’ superstar seems intent on being great whereas the Hall of Fame center often gave the impression that he was just happy to be there. Consequently, Rose may be remembered far longer than the former Spurs player.
The former Memphis Tiger is one of the scariest players in a league that is home to greats such as LeBron, Kobe, Wade and Dirk to name a few. Indeed, his combination of hops, playground handles and improving jump shot are enough to make any and every defender cringe once he crosses half court.
On a team devoid of scorers capable of creating their own shots, Rose came threw and set the table for everyone. He would turn corner off a pick-and-roll and attack the rim for vicious dunks or simply elevate for a jump shot or a beautiful floater over the outstretched arms of defenders. Whenever opposing teams directed some extra attention his way, Rose was at his finest, finding the likes of Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Carlos Boozer or Omer Asik rolling to the rim. If the lane was clogged, he instead kicked the ball out to Kyle Korver for uncontested 3-point field goals or Luol Deng who caught the ball on the perimeter and then drove in for either a midrange shot or made it all the way to the hoop.
Given how well the Chicago native played last season, it was easy to forget that he was just 22 years old and only in his third season in the league. He earned the respect of not only his teammates, but also that of his peers and the basketball world when he was presented with the MVP trophy. In addition, his performance last season earned him the ranking of eighth best player in the league as seen in #NBARank.
Rose’s ranking seems just about right. The next step for him to climb the #NBARank ladder would be improving his defense to the point that he can shut down opposing point guards and also improving his shot selection. The amount of shots the league MVP took last season was not problematic, it was more so his ability to convert them in the face of tough playoff defense. Indeed, in 16 postseason games, Rose averaged 27.1 points per game, albeit on 39.6 percent field goal shooting.
Granted, with the steady improvements that Derrick Rose has made in each of his seasons in the NBA, it stands to reason that he will be able to make that leap and become a playoff assassin for years to come.
Where David Robinson failed to leave his mark, Derrick Rose will surely make a triumphant comeback and conquer some of his adversaries. He may not win every playoff game going forward, but you can bet that his attempts to do so will be memorable and leave you wanting more.