Rose Blooms Among New Mates as Camp Continues
If Saturday afternoon’s practice at CCC is any indication – the Cavaliers will be champing at the bit to get after some dudes in different colored jerseys by the time Wednesday rolls around.
Even without LeBron James – still nursing the left ankle he rolled on Wednesday night – and Isaiah Thomas – who shot some free throws on an away hoop while the team scrimmaged – the competition was hot and heavy on Saturday. There’s talent everywhere on the floor, and these are alpha dogs who don’t like losing, even on the practice floor.
It’s a testament to that talent that Derrick Rose – three-time All-Star and former MVP – has somehow escaped all the attention those bona fides would normally accompany. He might have flown under the media’s radar through the first week of Camp, but he’s been opening the eyes of teammates and coaches in a serious way in every session.
Rose is one of Cleveland’s quickest end-to-end players, he’s as physical as he’s ever been – despite dropping a few pounds – and consistently plays downhill. He’s even the one guy who looks right pulling off the (usually forbidden) jump-pass.
But, when healthy, Rose has always been a sensational ballplayer. The drama and losing in New York last year dampened his passion, but he’s playing with a noticeably clear head in Cleveland.
”More than anything, (Rose) is just playing free,” observed Kevin Love. “He looks good, but he’s not carrying any weight in any way – whether it’s physically or on his shoulders, any burden in that respect. I think for him, that’s huge. And he’s just coming out here and having a lot of fun playing basketball. You can see that – especially when we go 5-on-5 and we’re just out there playing in our sets.”
Rose, the top pick of the 2008 Draft, comes to Cleveland with career averages of 19.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 470 regular season contests. The eight-year vet was the 2009 Rookie of the Year, was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star squad in 2010, ’11 and ’12 seasons and captured the gold medal with Team USA in the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Cup.
Last year, he averaged 18.0 ppg in 64 games on a bad Knicks team running a clunky offense.
You forget that he’s only 28 years old.
”I was in a dark place years ago, man,” said the soft-spoken star. “And by ‘dark place’ I mean that I was playing ‘revenge basketball’ – and that wasn’t my way of playing basketball. I enjoy competing, but when I came back it was all about trying to get back to the top and proving everybody wrong.
”I know who I am as a man. I know who I am as a player and a person. There’s no point in doing that anymore. It’s just being secure with who I am and knowing who I am.”
In Cleveland with this team, Rose won’t be under the microscope the way he was in New York. He won’t have the burden of being a hometown hero, living in MJ’s shadow and shouldering the load for Chicago. This season, he can just be himself.
”That’s why I’m happy,” concluded Rose. “I love the situation I’m in. It’s a great feeling to be here. And I’m having fun playing basketball again.”
Iman Shumpert and Jae Crowder feeling good during Saturday’s Day 5 Training Camp session at Cleveland Clinic Courts.
Photo by Joe Sykes / Cavs.com
1 Rose was the recipient of Saturday afternoon’s best play – a gorgeous wrap-around pass from Dwyane Wade, cutting through the second-unit defense and finding the former MVP for an easy layup.
Coach Lue praised Wade as a guy “who always makes the right pass” on Friday afternoon. By Saturday morning, he was doing a demonstration on the hardwood.
2 LeBron James didn’t participate in practice again on Saturday, nursing the left ankle he rolled mid-week, and Tyronn Lue mentioned that, as a precaution, he won’t be suiting up for Monday night’s Wine & Gold Scrimmage at The Q.
Rookie forward Cedi Osman sat out Saturday’s practice with a sore back; Kyle Korver did as well, nursing a hip pointer.
3 Since the start of Camp, Kevin Love has been getting a lot of run at the 5 during practice – with LeBron at the 4, Jae Crowder at the 3, J.R. Smith at 2 and Rose running the point. But Tristan Thompson has still been seeing plenty of time in the middle in scrimmages.
”We’ve definitely been interchangeable in that respect,” Love said, adding, “But also I think Ty likes matching me and Tristan up against each other. I think I’ll see a lot of practice time just going against T-Thomp.”
4 Onlookers watching Saturday’s intense Cavs practice shared a laugh at how players don’t really like tangling with Tristan in the low-post or around the rim at practice. Cleveland’s iron man goes hard, even on the practice floor, and that’s a lot of physicality to deal with before the preseason even tips off.
5 In terms of high-energy and intensity on the practice floor, Iman Shumpert was amped up on Saturday afternoon, having to check Dwyane Wade for much of the scrimmage. When he’s electric like he was at CCC, Shump shows why he’s one of the most dynamic pure athletes on the team.
6 J.R. Smith looks like he’s ready to pick up where he left off last year in Oakland, when he went 7-for-8 from long-range in the Wine & Gold’s fateful Game 5 loss in last year’s Finals.
Swish lived up to his nickname on successive splashdowns – drilling a high-arcing three-pointer from the corner with Shump draped on him and hitting the exact same shot on the next trip down the floor with Jose Calderon charging him from the baseline.