Heading into the FIBA World Cup this summer, the most interesting storyline for Team USA was the return of Derrick Rose.
Rose had played just 10 games in total over his last two NBA seasons due to injury, and this was going to be his first time back on the court in competitive play since November of last year.
He was expected to be the team’s starting point guard, because a fully healthy Rose would pretty clearly be the best option. But he hasn’t been able to string together consistently stellar performances to where playing him over Kyrie Irving is justifiable, so once the team got through its mini-camps and exhibition games in the states, Irving was installed as the starter.
Given Rose’s situation, he has no problem coming off the bench.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
The NBA’s 2010-11 MVP also says he has no issues playing behind Kyrie Irving at the point after it appeared earlier in the summer that he would be a starter for Krzyzewski.
“We have a deep team,” Rose said. “And that’s what makes us so good.
“My role is coming off the bench right now. I’m fine with it. I know no second unit can win when I’m on the court or stick me when I’m on the court.”
It was worth the risk for Team USA to choose Rose over someone who was perhaps more ready this summer like Damian Lillard, because of just how high the ceiling for Rose’s game is. And, there’s a loyalty factor to the USA Basketball program under Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski that can’t be overlooked — it’s something that’s demanded from the players, but is repaid by giving preference to selecting guys who have demonstrated a consistent commitment to the program over the years.
Coaches will tell you that the players who start the game aren’t as important as the ones who finish it. Rose is right not to be concerned with being one of the team’s starters, because he can have a breakout performance at any time that will earn him minutes in a given game’s most crucial moments.