When the Knicks’ Derrick Rose crosses over on an opposing point guard, relentlessly attacks the basket and converts inside the way few can, the immediate reaction is to compare him to his younger self.
Rose played that way in Chicago before multiple knee surgeries robbed him of some of his quickness and explosiveness. The former NBA MVP appears to have gotten them back.
Just don’t tell him he looks like “vintage Derrick Rose.”
His quickness is apparent there also. Rose wastes no time in saying that player has left the court.
“That vintage is gone, man,” Rose said. “The question should be: ‘Can I hoop?’ I can hoop. It shouldn’t be like, ‘He’s playing like his old self. If I can hoop, I can hoop, no matter if I did that when I was younger or now. I can play the game of basketball.”
Rose, 28, said he’s in a different stage of his life and career.
“I was young, I was reckless, I was learning the league,” Rose said. “I think my IQ got a lot higher than when I first got into the league. Now I have a chance to re-establish myself here, and just take off from here.”
Rose is doing things no Knicks point guard has in decades: getting in the paint and scoring on floaters, layups and athletic reverses. Rose had it all working in Tuesday’s 107-103 victory over the Trail Blazers.
He made two eyebrow-raising up-and-under reverse layups, and put the victory away with a jump-stop pull-up jumper from the left wing with 6.8 seconds left.
“That’s the Derrick I want, and I need and we all fell in love with,” Carmelo Anthony said.
But Anthony also knows not to expect Rose – who is averaging 15.8 points and 4.8 assists - to be the player he was before all of his injuries sidelined him for 228 games over a five-year span.
“I don’t think he would ever be the same Derrick Rose, coming down and dunking,” Anthony said. “But he can be great at being a different type of player now. That’s kind of what he’s showing.”
Rose tore his left ACL in 2012 and had right knee surgeries in 2013 and 2015. He said he’s still shaking off the rust and trying to get back his timing from all the time lost due to injury, in addition to missing 16 days during preseason for his civil sexual assault trial.
“Your whole life, you’re used to a 1-2 rhythm,” Rose said. “You have one injury, and that kind of resets everything, let alone you have three. You’ve got to find your 1-2. How high you want to jump on your shot? How high you want to jump on your threes? I missed preseason. All those little things count. Like, this entire time, these three or four years, I’m playing catch-up.
“I’m still far away, man, off where I want to be, the player I want to become. But in the meantime, I just want to win. I really label myself as a winner.”
The Knicks (7-7) have won five straight at home, and four of five overall. They can go over the .500 mark for the first time this season Friday with a victory over Charlotte at the Garden.
They’re playing with more passion - particularly on defense - and showing more cohesion. Anthony said they’re a close group. So close that since Rose’s family is in Chicago, he invited himself to spend Thanksgiving at Anthony’s house.
“I didn’t really ask,” Rose said. “I just told him, ‘I am coming over there.’ Little moments like that, it counts, because you get closer, your bond gets closer, and hopefully down the line we’ll be able to talk to one another without disrespecting one another or making one feel a way. So it should help the team.”