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Future Becomes Present Quickly In Chi-Town

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A Daily Babble Production

The NBA draft's last three number one overall selections prior to 2008 haven't exactly seen their careers get off to roaring starts.  Greg Oden has played a total of 13 professional minutes since going first in 2007.  Andrea Bargnani has yet to prove himself as anything other than an oversized small forward who could be a more efficient shooter and isn't a great defender.  Andrew Bogut has grown steadily more productive in Milwaukee, but his competence has been dwarfed by the stardom achieved by two point guards who also went in the top five of his draft class in 2006. 

Three full seasons or fewer into their respective careers, there is no intention here to pass definitive judgment on any of those three players.  Each still has both a fair supply of time and a sizable bit of potential on his side going forward, and there is much time for each to make a leap to a higher echelon.

No, even the presumed members of the cream of the draft crop aren't necessarily supposed (or going) to be world-beaters as neophytes, and that truth only serves to underscore the impressiveness of what Derrick Rose is doing in Chicago.

This guy already gives his team a chance to win every night.

It isn't a particularly good team that he is leading, so perhaps some would say that this makes it easier for him to become a centerpiece so quickly as compared to, say, Michael Beasley, who plays alongside Dwyane Wade in Miami.  But it's not so much just the fact that Derrick Rose is already the Bulls' best player than it is that plus his ability to take group that has been so oddly put together and make it competitive on a night-in, night-out basis.

That's exactly what Rose does.  Despite the fact that he is playing next to a revolving door of backcourt partners (Thabo Sefolosha, Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon have all seen ineptitude, injuries and odd management decisions bounce their minutes around), despite the fact that Tyrus Thomas has gotten off to a maddeningly miserable start, despite the fact that Luol Deng is still establishing himself as even a second banana in this league, Rose's special blend of finishing ability, passing vision and sheer athleticism make the Bulls wary of opponents' oversight.

Take last night for example.  The undefeated Hawks came to town, shot 47 percent from the field, made 11 more trips to the foul line than host Chicago and controlled the game throughout, but Rose pushed the Bulls into giving them a scare.  While Ben Gordon and Tyrus Thomas suffered through poor shooting nights, Rose attacked the rim with a vengeance, using his compact frame and strength around the rim to finish several acrobatic lay-ins, including an and-one to cut the Hawks' lead from nine to six in the final two minutes.  He stayed within his range and didn't try to do much from the outside, hitting several mid-range jumpers but opting not to venture out beyond the arc, an area from which he has taken only eight shots in his first eight games.  The result was an efficient 9-for-17 shooting performance to go along with an 8-for-9 showing at the foul line.  Those hard takes to the bucket tend to earn Rose his share of charity stripe visits.

When Rose wasn't busy scoring, he was earning his team extra possessions and setting up his teammates.  He pulled down five of the Bulls' 19 offensive rebounds on Tuesday, which made up half of his 10-board effort for the game.  Rose isn't shy about going back to get the ball off the defensive glass as a means of allowing him to start his own breaks.  He pulls the ball down and just goes, yet he constantly seems in control.  The guy also understands that he is the point guard and that a big part of his job is to get good looks for his teammates, which he constantly does thanks to his ability to penetrate defenses and to see the floor so well on kickouts and dump-offs.  Last night, he led the Bulls in points and assists with 26 and six respectively, and he tied for the team lead with his 10 boards. 

The points haven't been there in quite that quantity every night, and his shooting efficiency could use some work, but averaging 18.8 points and nearly 52 percent true shooting through a guy's first eight games in the league is nothing to take lightly.  That's in addition to his roles as primary distributor and on-floor leader of this team, both of which he has already assumed with confidence while spending more than 37 minutes per game on the court.

The 20-year-old from Memphis shows up to play every night and puts in the effort at both ends of the floor.  As any eight-game pro would be, Rose is far from perfect, and he has plenty of work to put in to become a more consistent outside shooter and to do a better job valuing his fouls and positioning himself better at the defensive end.

But less than two weeks into his NBA career, Derrick Rose is already the unquestioned leader of his basketball team, and his explosiveness and ability to help those around him is making it difficult to count the Bulls out of any contest. 

To think that this is all just the beginning for this young man is nothing short of astounding.