With Jimmy Butler’s seemingly impending exit from the Minnesota Timberwolves, opportunities are now open for Derrick Rose to step up and become the winner of the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.
Could Derrick Rose finish the 2018-19 season holding some hardware?
It’s not impossible. While it would be a far cry from the MVP trophy he earned at 22 years old, Rose is a prime candidate for this season’s Most Improved Player award.
With Jimmy Butler’s imminent departure, Tom Thibodeau has looked to Rose to step in during Timberwolves practice to run with the first unit. According to Julian Andrews from Timberwolves.com, Thibodeau has looked into working with smaller guard lineups, meaning Rose has and will see more reps and could be a viable starter on opening night.
According to Andrews, “It looks like Rose has the inside track to starting alongside [Jeff] Teague and splitting primary ball-handling duties, at least for now.”
A deeper look suggests he has a chance to bounce back well this season.
While many wrote Rose off years ago, He still averaged 18 points and 4.4 assists in 2016-17 with a weak New York Knicks team, a season in which he also showed a lack of desire to even play the sport any longer.
While his 16 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers disappointed, he was thrown into a bad situation in a system that limited his scoring chances while the offense primarily ran through LeBron James and Kevin Love.
As we saw last season, Rose showed a lot more confidence coming into Minnesota at the tail-end of 2017-18 and brought a resurgence of passion, coming into a system that better suited his play at this point in his career – especially in the playoffs where he was arguably the third-best player for Minnesota.
While injuries are always a risk for him, Rose is still only 29 years old and is finally back in a system that works to his advantage.
He will not have to be leaned on too heavily as he was in Chicago, but will earn enough chances to show what he is still capable of. Rose will be asked to score in order to fill the potential scoring void, yet find a nice groove within the rotation of quality players such as Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones where he can rest if he needs to.
The Timberwolves provide the ideal balance for Rose, something he has never had in his career.
While there is still a lot up in the air as to what the Timberwolves lineup could look like this season, Rose has a clear path to prove the doubters wrong again and become the most improved player in the league.
Time will tell, make sure to tune in for Rose this season and hope for the best during his potential last season with the Timberwolves.