Wessel: Rose shows Wolves fans what's possible with a real point guard
MINNEAPOLIS -- Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls made easy work of the Minnesota Timberwolves in a routine 108-91 victory Wednesday.
Rose made it look effortless, scoring 23 points and dishing 10 assists in 30 minutes that barely caused him to break a sweat before taking the entire fourth quarter off while the scrubs mopped up garbage time. He also showed the few fans in the announced crowd of 19,207 that weren't cheering for the Bulls what can happen when a team is led by a game-changing point guard.
Luke Ridnour is a quality veteran backup, Jonny Flynn has done a great job in two seasons proving draft-day skeptics correct, Sebastian Telfair cannot crack the lineup over the first two and Ricky Rubio is still a teenage hearthrob in Spain.
Not exactly where the franchise hoped to be two years after mortgaging their future by taking three point guards in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft.
In just a shade under three seasons, Rose, the top overall pick in 2008, has put himself in the top echelon of players in the NBA, turned the Bulls into a serious title contender is on the verge of becoming the youngest MVP in league history.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it was unanimous," Anthony Tolliver said about Rose's MVP bid. "Some people might say Dwight Howard but I think Rose has carried that team all year and it's not something a lot of people expected, for Chicago to be as good as they are this quickly but he is definitely the reason why."
"It is almost unfair," coach Kurt Rambis added.
Rose is the type of multifaceted point guard that can beat his opponents in a number of ways. He has speed to beat anyone off the dribble, the court vision to make the types of passes other point guards couldn't make in a video game and now a jump shot that makes him almost impossible to defend.
Kevin Love, a close friend of Rose's, saw that jump shot develop first-hand last summer during offseason workouts.
"He works so hard, tremendously hard during the summer," Love said. "I can't say I knew he was going to be the MVP, but I knew he was going to take that step to the next level because he was already an All-Star, had a taste of it, been there before and this summer he really made it a point he wanted to get a jump shot that he can rely on, pull up three-pointers, pull up 15-footers. I saw him work on that all summer and now he has the confidence."
"Now he has a jump shot and he's MVP."
Obviously, game-changing players of Rose's caliber don't grow on trees and landing one is much easier said than done.
The Wolves are stuck on 17 wins -- just two more than all of last season -- with seven games to go and everyone from David Kahn on down continues to say the team is close to getting over the hump despite their lack of wins. The bottom line is, in the NBA today, a team can acquire all the supporting pieces in the world, but until you land a superstar of Rose's caliber, you are left to mire in mediocrity.
"If you can get a guy like Rose, a lot of things are possible with your team," Tolliver said. "He is a special, special player and they have done a great job of building a team around him and getting the guys in there that can really get the job done, shooters, big men that can rebound and score and everything else. They have really built a team. That's one thing that I really like about them, they are a team and he is a big reason for that."
The Wolves are still a long ways from landing a free agent that a casual fan would recognize without the help of Google, so their only avenue to land the game-changer they so covet is through the draft. Or keeping alive the pipe dream that Ricky Rubio may actually put on a Wolves' uniform someday and live up to hype bred from years of YouTube highlight clips.
They currently hold sole possession of the league's second-worst record which would give them the second best odds at landing the top overall pick in the Draft Lottery, a feat amazingly never accomplished in the Wolves' woeful history.
The few remaining Wolves fans will hold their breath that the ping-pong balls may finally bounce in their favor and the team will land the type of franchise player that is capable of turning this team around.
Until then, the vicious cycle of lopsided loses, empty promises of a better tomorrow and distribution of blame that has plagued this franchise will continue.