After months of scrutiny over his rehab following a season-ending knee injury in Nov. 2013, Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose has had his share of struggles this season, perhaps casting doubt on whether he deserves to be named to the 2015 Eastern Conference All-Star Team.
At the moment, Rose is on the outside looking in as a possible starter. The 26-year-old is currently in sixth place in votes (240,092) amongst guards in the Eastern Conference. That means Rose will need NBA coaches to select him as a one of the two reserve guards, or one of the two additional players to the rosters, for the Feb. 15 game at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Will Rose be chosen by the coaches? At the moment, the chances look quite slim. The former MVP has been in a major slump in the past six games, averaging just 12.6 points per game and shooting 25.4 percent from the field in the span. On the season, Rose is shooting 39.7 percent from the field, and averaging 16.8 points per game and 4.9 assists in 26 of the Bulls’ 33 games. The numbers are a far cry from his exceptional 2011-2012 season when Rose averaged 25 points per game and 7.7 assists.
Perhaps the biggest roadblock for Rose to be selected to the All-Star Game is the growing competition from burgeoning guards in the East. John Wall and Dwyane Wade are virtual locks by the voters, but many young guards are also in the mix to be selected by coaches. Rose’s teammate Jimmy Butler, who has served as a swingman for the Bulls, is a lead candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, having increased his scoring average from 13.1 in 2013-2014 to 21.7 this season. Butler also appears poised to make his first All-Star appearance.
Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker, Brandon Knight, and Jeff Teague are enjoying strong seasons. Each guard has a higher scoring average, higher field-goal percentage, and a higher assist average than Rose.
The Bulls’ success in the East might factor into Rose getting a surprise All-Star nod. The Bulls are currently in third place with a 25-11 record, and trail the Atlanta Hawks by 2.5 games for the top spot. A sharp increase in production by Rose in the next few weeks, coupled with a strong run by the Bulls before full rosters are announced on Jan. 29, might be the only way Rose can earn a spot on the 12-man roster.
A major factor in Rose’s struggles this season can be directly tied to less minutes and increased concern by the Bulls coaching staff to limit the risk of Rose suffering another injury. Rose has averaged just 28.8 minutes a game this season, which is a sharp drop off from previous seasons when he averaged above 35 minutes.
While an All-Star appearance looks good on Rose’s resume, a full season with the Bulls and a serious run at the postseason looks even better. He has not been shy about his desire to return the Bulls to the Finals for the first time since Michael Jordan’s retirement, so an appearance at the All-Star game is probably of little concern.
Instead, Rose seems to be more interested in his teammates’ improved performance than his own achievements. Butler and off-season addition Pau Gasol have helped relieve the stress and workload he has faced in previous seasons.
"It's a good feeling," Rose said on Dec. 29. "First time I've ever had that while I've been in the league. It takes a lot of pressure off everyone, where someone can easily go off for 15 or 20 points within a couple of quarters and put the [opposing] team away pretty quick. It's fun. We don't take it for granted, and we just know that we could always improve every day."