Derrick Rose was the 2008-09 NBA Rookie of the Year. That means he was great for the entire 82-game season…not to mention the playoffs. So choosing his 10 best games is like trying to pick the best movie in the Police Academy series: In the end, they’re all winners. (Although the ones with Steve Guttenberg were probably the best.) Anyway, here’s my completely subjective list of the best games from Derrick’s rookie season.
November 1, 2008: In only his third game of the season, Derrick scored 20+ points for the first time in a 96-86 home victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Rose finished with 26 points (11-for-20), 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the win, out-dueling Memphis rookie O.J. Mayo (16 points, 5 turnovers) in the process.
November 11, 2008: Derrick notched the first double-double of his career (26 points, 10 rebounds) in a close 113-108 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Rose shot 9-for-17 from the field, 8-for-9 from the line, and added 6 assists.
November 30, 2008: The first double-digit assist game (10) of Derrick’s career helped spur the Bulls to a 103-92 road win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Rose also scored 18 points (8-for-15, 2-for-2 from the line), grabbed 5 boards and embarrassed the hell out of Andre Miller.
December 29, 2008: Derrick (21 points, 9-for-15, 13 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals) helped the Bulls end a three-game losing streak by outplaying All-Star Devin Harris (26 points, 8-for-20, 5 assists, 4 turnovers) in a 100-87 road win over the Nets. It was the Bulls’ first win in New Jersey since April 17, 2001. “I wasn’t even thinking of the NBA back then,” Rose said. “I had no idea what was going on this franchise, but I’m beginning to learn a lot now.”
January 14, 2009: Rose had his second straight double-double (25 points, 10 assists) in a 102-98 victory over the Raptors in Toronto. Derrick shot 12-for-18 from the field and scored Rose scored 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Bulls came from behind for the win. “He was feeling it,” Luol Deng said about Rose. “Just give him the ball and get out of the way.”
January 31, 2009: The Bulls earned their third straight win on a seven-game Western Conference road trip by knocking off the Phoenix Suns 122-111 as Derrick (26 points, 12-for-19, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) had his way with former MVP Steve Nash (15 points, 10 assists, 7 turnovers)…despite sitting out the final seven minutes after spraining his left ankle on a couple of dunks.
March 18, 2009: Derrick went 10-for-10 from the field and scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half as the Bulls snapped a seven-game road losing streak by beating the Thunder 103-96 in Oklahoma City. Rose finished 12-for-14 from the field and added 6 rebounds and 3 assists. He also outplayed fellow rookie point guard Russell Westbrook (15 points, 6-for-16, 4 turnovers). Said Derrick: “I knew that my team needed me to make plays. I didn’t know what type of plays, but it ended up being scoring plays.”
April 13, 2009: Ben Gordon may have hit the go-ahead layup, but Derrick (24 points, 9-for-17, 5 rebounds, 8 assists) did the heavy-lifting in a huge 91-88 road win in Detroit. The victory ensured that the Pistons, and not the Bulls, would be relegated to eighth place in the East…and a first round date with MVP LeBron James and his best-team-in-the-league Cleveland Cavaliers.
April 18, 2009: Derrick had one of the greatest rookie postseason debuts in NBA history by scoring 36 points (12-for-19 from the field, 12-for-12 from the line) and dishing out 11 assists as the Bulls stunned the defending champion Celtics by winning Game 1 of their first-round playoff series 105-103 in Boston. It was the Bulls’ first postseason win over the Celtics in 11 tries. In addition to tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the post points scored by a rookie in a playoff debut, Rose became just the second player in NBA history to have at least 35 points and 10 assists in his first playoff game (Chris Paul had 35 points and 10 assists in 2008).
April 30, 2009: In a wildly epic triple overtime event, Derrick finished with 28 points (12-for-25), 8 rebounds and 7 assists in the Bulls’ 128-127 Game 6 win over the Celtics. But Rose’s biggest number on the day was 1, as in blocks, as Derrick stuffed Rajon Rondo’s turnaround jumper with seven seconds left in the third overtime to secure the victory. Oh, and he didn’t just block Rondo’s shot…he also controlled the rebound. It might have been the Bulls’ play of the year.
Bonus Best: Back in February, Derrick became the first rookie to ever win the NBA All-Star Skills Challenge, and he defeated not one, not two, but three All-Stars to do it (Tony Parker, Mo Williams and Devin Harris).