2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team Practice

Derrick Rose: “I’ve become a smarter player, but I’m mad it took me seven years to learn it.”


LAS VEGAS — During one of the last scrimmages on the opening day of the Team USA training camp in Las Vegas, Derrick Rose brought the ball up, gave it up, quickly got it back and found himself open at the three-point line. Old Derrick Rose might have put that ball on the floor and gotten to the rim.

This Derrick Rose set his feet and knocked down the three.

It was just one snippet but was a nice example of what Rose says has changed about his game — it has matured.

“I’m able to control my body a little bit more, using my speed more, being smart with my speed rather than just running wild out there,” Rose said. “I’’ve become a smarter player, but I’m mad it took me seven years to learn it.”

Rose made one vintage Rose play at the Team USA scrimmage where he drew the contact, made the and-1 shot and hit the floor hard. But he’s not seeking contact like he used to on his drives.

“Trying to use a lot of floaters, a lot of pull-ups, stuff like that so you aren’t touched as much,” Rose said.

Rose added the last comeback taught him things about patience, something that he wants to apply on the court.

“I think when I came back last time I wanted it too bad. I was trying to force the game,” Rose said, having missed a full season then getting injured on a cut just six games into his return. “This time around I’m trying to let the game come to me, of course be aggressive at times, but be in control of the game and be smarter, and be able to run the team at the point guard position.”

Run a team that brings in Pau Gasol to pair with Joakim Noah, forming the best passing front court in the NBA.

“When you think about Gasol coming in, winning championships and bringing that experience to our team, him being around our bigs like Joakim and giving them advice and talking to them, I think that’s what we needed,” Rose said.

But right now he’s focused on Team USA. When USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked about this kind of setting being an ideal spot for Rose to slide back in he laughed.

“Any setting with Derrick in it is an ideal setting, when he’s healthy,” Krzyzewski said. “The ideal thing is he looks like he’s healthy and he’s put a lot of work in and he really wants it and we’re excited about him.”

Rose should make a Team USA roster that runs a lot of three guard sets and often uses guys pigeonholed as point guards in the NBA as two guards (and occasionally threes) working off the ball. Rose says he is good with that and would be willing to do some of that in Chicago.

“I can just shoot it, I can do a lot of catch-and-shoot, just running off floppy,” Rose said of a common NBA play most teams run that can free up a shooter for a quick shot. “Just trying to make the game easier and find ways to score, find ways to effect the game when I’m not scoring.”

Rose still has some Chicago fans to win back. After two years of injuries a guy those same people used to call tough gets another label. Krzyzewski just doesn’t get that at all.

“He’s one of the great people and one of the great players and to get multiple injuries like that can defeat anybody mentally. I don’t see that,” Krzyzewski said. “He should be applauded for what he’s doing. I’m a Chicago person and I’ve very happy he’s back, not just for Team USA but the Bulls.”

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

Leave a comment

Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.