Completely overshadowed by all the crazy, landscape-shifting moves that went through in what was nothing short of an historic offseason for the NBA was the Detroit Pistons’ signing of veteran point guard Derrick Rose. The former Most Valuable Player winner put pen to paper on a two-year, $15 million deal with the Pistons on Day 1 of free agency, and while not many paid too much attention to this signing, the Rose acquisition might actually prove to be one of the most significant low-key signings of the entire summer.
For starters, let’s make one thing clear. Despite Rose’s resurgence last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves (he averaged 18.0 points on a highly-efficient 48.2 percent shooting, 2.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 0.6 steals, while also connecting on 1.1 three-pointers on a career-high 37.0-percent clip), he still remains to be a far cry from the All-Star caliber superstar he once was with the Chicago Bulls. At 31 and with a series of major injuries on his resume, Rose will never reach the heights he once did as a 22-year-old MVP winner — the youngest in the history of the NBA.
However, it is important to note that at this point in his career, this is not what is expected of him. For their part, the Pistons definitely did not sign Rose in the hopes of the 6-foot-3 point guard returning to MVP form. That’s just impossible. Nonetheless, what makes Rose’s narrative so appealing is the fact that he has now found a way to remain relevant in the league in spite of all the tremendous challenges he had to go through.
During his younger years, Rose relied heavily on his quickness and explosiveness. He was one of the most athletic point guards of his generation, and he absolutely took the league by storm early on in his career. However, following a series of career-threatening injuries, Rose slowly became a shadow of his former self, and was at the brink of irrelevance.
Following a terrible 2017-18 campaign where he would play just 25 games throughout the year between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Wolves, Rose understood what had to be done. He knew that he had to evolve in order to remain relevant — and evolve he certainly did.
Knowing full well that he no longer had the ability to fearlessly drive to the basket to make his own shot, Rose developed his perimeter game. He pretty much changed his entire mindset, and the result was pure magic — as made evident by last season’s unforgettable career-high 50-point performance for Minnesota.
In Detroit, Rose is expected to come off the bench. Unlike his earlier years, he has been relegated to a bench role of late, and as it turns out, he has found a way to thrive in his new-found role. The Pistons will still be starting Reggie Jackson at the one spot, with Rose serving as his primary back-up.
Last season, this back-up role belonged to Ish Smith, who has now moved on to the Washington Wizards. Smith logged 22.3 minutes per game last year off the Detroit bench, and perhaps this is the same amount of playing time Rose can expect this coming season. Rose averaged 27.3 minutes per contest for the Wolves last term, but despite the expected dip in playing time this coming season, he can still make a significant impact for the Pistons. After all, Father Time is slowly catching up to the former first overall pick, so this reduced role might actually work in his favor as the season gets deeper.
Detroit is considered as one of the playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference, as they will likely battle it out with the likes of the Indiana Pacers and the Orlando Magic for the final few playoff spots in the East. They will need a guy like Rose to be fresh towards the tail end of the regular season, as he might just prove to be the x-factor the Pistons are looking for.
If Detroit somehow breaks through, then Rose’s playoffs experience should come in handy. He has been to the Eastern Conference Finals before (with the Bulls in 2011), so he definitely knows a thing or two about the postseason grind.
Rose has had quite a colorful career thus far, and in truth, he does not appear to have much more left in the tank. He probably has two or three more good years ahead of him where he can potentially play at a very high level, so at this point, we all just better enjoy it while it lasts.