NBA: Derrick Rose a Backup?

October 20th, 2008
If Larry Hughes hadn't banged up his knuckles in practice late last week, it's probable that he would've ousted top rookie Derrick Rose from the starting lineup while new head coach Vinny Del Negro tinkered with different combinations of players.
There is, however, something to be said for getting a young player learning a new system as many minutes as possible in the preseason before the losses actually count. Also, why plunk a potential superstar on the bench when so much has been invested in him as the future of the franchise?
Rose himself is taking everything in stride, unsurprising considering his humble demeanor, saying, "I don't need to start, but I'd like to.
"It gets me ready for the future," he continues. "Even if I do come off the bench, I'm learning from my veterans. They help me a lot because they know so much more about than I do because I just came in this league. Either way, it helps me."
His veterans include Drew Gooden, who's played for four different teams and a number of different point guards. "The rookie year is a rollercoaster ride," admits Gooden. "You're going to have a lot of ups and downs whether you're starting or coming off the bench. It's just a learning experience altogether… Derrick doesn't need to put any added pressure on himself; he's doing a great job."
"Point guard is the toughest position to pick up," says sixth-year Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich in reference to his own struggles as a rookie. "It's a different game. I feel like he's done a good job of it so far, but it's a huge adjustment."
First-year Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro corroborates Hinrich's claim that point guard is the toughest to learn as a rookie. "[Rose] is young, and Deron Williams in his first year, it took him a little while to get accustomed the NBA. The point guard position is the toughest one to learn… Some guys adapt quicker than others, but I think Derrick will adapt very quick because of his personality and his work ethic. But it does take time."
"I'm still learning," Rose admits. "Like I always say about (the University of) Memphis when I was there, I was averaging like five or six turnovers a game earlier on in the year, but once I got comfortable with the offense and my teammates, everything was smooth. It's going to take a while, but I've just got to wait."
Hinrich, however, doesn't think that wait will take too long. "He's going to be a great player. He's talented, he's willing to learn. We all believe he's going to be a great player in this league, and a lot sooner than later."
Whether or not Rose starts for the rest of the preseason is still in question, but one thing is for sure: in the long-term, Larry Hughes doesn't stand a chance against the promise of Derrick Rose. It's all just a matter of how quickly Del Negro wants to plug his rookie point guard into that permanent role of starter.