NBA Handicapping: Derrick Rose Could Return Any Day
by Trevor Whenham - 3/13/2013
Derrick Rose has been medically cleared to return to action for the Bulls after recovering from the knee injury that cost him last year’s playoffs and all of this season so far. He doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to return, but he theoretically could at any point. He’s a former MVP and among the best point guards in the sport, so when he does return bettors are going to take notice. That means that it is particularly important that we start to think about what impact he could have and what his return means for the Bulls from a NBA handicapping perspective:
I’m more than a little concerned about the mental state of Rose. I really wish that he was chomping at the bit to get back into the game. If Kobe, Jordan or LeBron had missed three-quarters of a season, I would imagine that they would be willing to do anything to get back in the game. Rose is instead giving excuses and biding his time. The biggest problem is that he can’t even decide what his excuse is. One day he didn’t want to return until he could dunk confidently off his left leg. The next day it was a tweaked hamstring that was the issue. At the all-star break he repeatedly indicated that he would be okay if he didn’t play at all this year. He admits he can do everything, but he lacks the confidence to play. None of that gives me any comfort or makes me think that he is going to be at his top effectiveness when he returns. It also really doesn’t help that the advice he is getting from those around him — mostly his brother — doesn’t seem particularly sound. His brother decided it was a good idea for him to publicly question why the Bulls refused to build talent around his brother. It wasn’t. When a player is returning from a major injury like this, it’s the mental game that will determine his success or failure in the short term more than anything else. Uh oh.
Even if Rose is in a good place mentally, he is going to be very rusty. He hasn’t played all year and has only recently been practicing with the team. The saving grace here, though, is that while Rose hasn’t come back from an injury of this magnitude, he did miss a lot of time last year. In his longest absence last year he bounced back from a 12-game layoff to score 29 points in 39 minutes at the Knicks in his first game. This is a much bigger hurdle to overcome, but at least we know he has the capability to not ease into things.
What he’ll replace
Sometimes when a star returns after a long absence he can be disruptive because he is forcing a productive player out of the lineup. That’s just not the case here. Kirk Hinrich is so frustratingly vanilla that watching him makes me want to scream. Nate Robinson has a solid assist-to-turnover ratio, but that’s mostly because he doesn’t gamble as often as he should. Rose at well below full capacity would be an upgrade for this team.
Where the team is at
The long-term reality is that the Bulls have a bit of an opportunity this year, so Rose is really needed. They aren’t going to get past the Heat — no one in the East stands much of a chance of that. The Bulls are in fifth in the conference, though, and are all but guaranteed a playoff berth. If they can avoid the Heat for a while, then there isn’t another team that is terrifying in the conference. With Rose at full strength, this team at least has a chance to be second-best. That is what makes his hesitation to return so frustrating.
At Sportsbook.ag the Bulls are the third choice to win the Eastern conference at +1200. Given the standings that’s a pretty good indication that the public has already bet assuming Rose will be back and will be good. That would be frustrating because the value was gone, but, thankfully, there is no reason to bet on any team other than Miami, so any value is just relative anyway.
Despite their 35-28 record, the team is a lowly 27-36 ATS, which is the fourth worst in the league. That means that the public has had a real struggle assessing this team as it is. Adding in Rose isn’t going to make things any better. The team is just 29th in league scoring, so Rose will be expected to boost that significantly. The public almost always overcompensates for offensive power, so the ATS performance of this team is likely to remain bleak the rest of the way regardless of what happens on the Rose front.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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