Well, this is adorable as all get out:
That, as highlighted during TNT's Thursday broadcast of the Chicago Bulls' visit to Colorado to take on the Denver Nuggets, is a report card given to Bulls point guard Derrick Rose by a fan named Skye Mariah Vaughn. Young Miss Vaughn, age 8, wanted to know how the 25-year-old felt his comeback from 18 months away due to a torn left ACL was going through eight games.
She asked him to assess his progress in five areas — health (kind of a big deal when coming back from a major injury), jumpshot (which we'd heard Rose had worked on a ton during his time away), quick moves (long Rose's stock-in-trade), passing (pretty important for Chicago's point guard and primary playmaker), and "get[ting] along with your team (clearly, Skye shares Joakim Noah's sentiments about chemistry). As you can see, Rose gave himself straight A's; clearly, the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player is as confident as ever. (But you already knew that.)
The most important of these, for now, is health, and it's hard to argue with Rose's evaluation there; while his game might not look as smooth as Bulls fans would like right now, his physicality and explosiveness do appear to be back. And given the way teammates like Noah and Carlos Boozer, not to mention coach Tom Thibodeau, talk about Rose, I'm sure the "getting along with teammates" grade would stand up to further scrutiny. The "passing" mark might seem a bit steep, considering Rose is averaging just 4.4 assists per game this season, but that looks a bit better once you factor in the pair of "hockey assists" he's contributing each game (tied for fifth-best in the NBA). As for "quick moves" ... well, let's ask the Denver Nuggets:
About that jumper, though ...
Rose went 3 for 13 on shots outside the restricted area on Thursday, continuing a season-long trend that's seen him struggle to regain the touch on his J — he's made 26 of 92 shots away from the rim this season, a 28.3 percent mark that's about 6 percent worse than his (already not-so-great) mark from two years ago and nearly 10 percent worse than during his MVP season. As a result, Rose needed 20 shots to score his team-high 19 points in Denver, and with his teammates similarly scuffling — Luol Deng (3 for 18), Carlos Boozer (7 for 18) and Joakim Noah (4 for 10) couldn't provide enough firepower — the Bulls wound up on the business end of a 97-87 Nuggets win.
Despite the persistent shooting struggles, though, both Thibodeau and Rose took some positives away from the end of Chicago's five-game winning streak, according to CSN Chicago's Aggrey Sam:
"[...] I thought he played hard. I think he’s still shaking some rust off and he’s itching to play more minutes, so that’s a good sign. He feels pretty good,” Thibodeau explained. “He had a great first half. Attacking, just great quick, explosive moves, good plays, terrific defense. It’s coming. You can see it. I just want him to continue to concentrate on improvement, getting better each game. His confidence is growing, he’s getting better and better. ” [...]
“I’m not worried about how I feel during the game. I’m going to continue to play the way that I normally play. I’m not worried about my rhythm or anything. It’s going to come [...],” Rose explained. “I know it’s there. I work too hard. Just shooting with the ball in my hands, that’s the next step. Coming off pick-and-roll, mid-range shots. Set shots, I know I can knock them down, but just getting used to having the ball in my hands and creating, and really knocking down the shots. That’s the next thing. Like I said, I know my rhythm is going to come.”
In the meantime, we give Rose an A for effort. It might be cold comfort after dropping the first game of Chicago's annual "Circus Trip," but hey, it's better than flunking, right?
Screencap via @cjzero.
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