If not for playing in only 35 games for the Knicks, Derrick Rose would have a strong case for Sixth Man of the Year this season.
He’s been that good for New York, which acquired him in a February trade. His current stint with the Knicks represents his second go-around with the team after he spent 64 games playing for it during the 2016-17 season.
When he joined the Knicks in February, Rose was joining a mediocre team, at least judging by its record at the time. Rose even received a warning about coming to New York.
Pistons Coach Warned Rose About Knicks
Obviously, Rose felt good about rejoining the Knicks. He told his former coach as much just before his departure from Detroit.
According to SiriusXM NBA Radio, Pistons coach Dwayne Casey remembers Rose telling him: “I just want to go where we may have a chance to make the playoffs.”
Casey didn’t want to sugarcoat anything at that point.
“Derrick,” Casey said he told Rose, “you may have a chance here (in Detroit) just as much as they have in New York.”
Three months later, the Pistons’ season is over after an abysmal 2020-21 campaign that saw them go 20-52 to finish in last place in the Eastern Conference. As for the Knicks? They’re preparing for their first playoff series since 2012-13 after their 41-31 record earned them fourth place in the Eastern Conference. New York will host the fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks on Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round series.
A lot of the Knicks getting to this point had to do with the addition of Rose.
The Knicks went 24-11 when the former No. 1 overall pick and 2011 NBA MVP played for them during the regular season. Though Rose only started in three of the 35 games he played in, he averaged 14.9 points on 48.7 percent shooting to go along with 2.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 26.8 minutes per game.
Knicks Weigh in on Rose
The 2016-17 Knicks went 31-51. Those were unhappier times for Rose and New York.
Now? All of that has been flipped on its head. And above all else, Rose is enjoying himself.
“Every time he steps on the court here he’s having fun,” Taj Gibson said, according to The New York Post. “He’s always smiling.”
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, who also coached Rose during his time with the Chicago Bulls, has seen the same out of the 32-year-old Rose.
“He’s always been a team-first guy and winning’s always at the forefront, he’s always been a great teammate,” Thibodeau said, per The Post. “He’s happy when other people have success. He’s most happy when the team wins. And whether he scores two points or he scores 20 points, he’s the same guy.”
Hawks coach Nate McMillan sees Rose and the Knicks as an extension of their coach.
“They’re going to be physical with you on the defensive end of the floor,” McMillan said, via The Post. “I think it’s really similar to (Thibodeau’s) past teams, he even has some of the guys he worked with early in his career, like [Derrick] Rose and [Taj] Gibson. So absolutely, I think they take on Thibs’ identity.”
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