Portland's Nicolas Batum(notes) is not alone in wondering whether or not Derrick Rose(notes) can play defense. The guy was terrible, for a few years, but now he's the lead man on the NBA's best defensive team. Is that a fluke, or has he really improved? Is this for real, or just the vicissitudes of a 50-game sample size?
"We know that Derrick Rose is a good offensive player," Batum said. "But you have to play defense, too. He can't guard Dre. You gotta play defense. He can't play defense, so that's why we put Dre inside and try to attack him. He did a great job. Had 25 (points) and 11 (assists) tonight."
"He can't play defense." Seems pretty cut and dry to me as to what Batum thinks. Whether he's right or wrong, "he can't play defense" is pretty to the point. Straight up the ole kilt, y'know?
But earlier Tuesday, Nic tweeted this:
... except for the time you said "he can't play defense." Guh. You know that they have digital voice recorders now, right Nic?
Snark aside, English is not Batum's first language, and it's likely that he got caught up in the excitement of watching someone like Miller tear it up, as Dre did this time last year in dropping 52 on the Mavericks. But what you meant to say is, well, "what I meant to say." Don't say, "I never said," because you did.
And for those scoring at home, Derrick Rose can play defense.
Statistically, he's one of the league's most effective on-ball defenders, and he got his tail handed to him Monday night by a very, very good point guard. In a league with no hand-checking, it's bound to happen. Overall, because a good chunk of NBA defense is done away from the ball, I'd call Rose's defense "above average," because he's very poor in transition, and not a very good screen-and-roll defender. Regardless of whether or not Carlos Boozer(notes) is his partner in that particular possession.
Overall, I'd call Nicolas Batum a top-five flip-flopper. Easily an MVP candidate.