Who knows if Derrick Rose can see properly. A shattered orbital bone can mess you up.
Who knows if his knees have slowed him badly. Three surgeries can mess those joints up.
What we do know is that Rose is no longer a superstar player, not among elite NBA point guards. At his position, where speed and quickness and shooting skills and youthful exuberance are everything, his chances of becoming again what he was in 2011 — MVP of the league — are gone.
Fresh point guards enter the league every year. Old ones such as Chris Paul and Tony Parker and Mike Conley hang around forever.
To see Rose guarded to a near standstill Friday night by the Hornets’ soft Jeremy Lin, spiked Mohawk and all, was dispiriting. No, it was worse than that. It was like hearing ‘‘Taps’’ on a warm summer night.
Rose was left alone in the corners on offense in the game, as if he didn’t exist. Why bother covering him? He is 1-for-18 on three-pointers this season. His two attempts against the Hornets were flying bricks.
Can anyone imagine leaving Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Goran Dragic, even Lin, as open behind the arc as a mailbox without a lid?
Rose is still sometimes a dynamic player, with a good burst to the basket. And he passes well on the fly, hits the open man.
But when he drives into the lane for a layup, he often gets brutalized, and he has no outside game, which lets defenders sag onto other Bulls.
He once had an improving, multidimensional scoring game. He was developing an outside shot. No more. He can’t even shoot midrange jumpers with any consistency.
A shooting percentage of 35.9 from the field is borderline unacceptable for an NBA guard. But that’s what Rose is shooting.
Why dwell on his fade, which we all have witnessed?
I guess because it hurts to watch it happen.
This is not Rose’s fault. He didn’t ask to have his knees damaged. He didn’t throw his cheekbone into a teammate’s elbow. He didn’t ask to be overshadowed by frisky shooting-guard teammate Jimmy Butler.
But Rose is a symbol of life taking its toll on something beautiful. It happens. Like a lost lover, or a statue eroded.
And if Rose is not a great guard, what chance do the Bulls have of winning a championship? Which is the point, right?
It seems likely injury-prone guard Kyrie Irving will rise up for the Cavaliers, and LeBron James’ powerful team will simply whip the Bulls again and again. The Cavs are there like a wall. And that’s just in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls’ window of opportunity is very small now. It might not even exist.
Pau Gasol is 35. Joakim Noah is 30 with a bad knee. Taj Gibson is 30. Injured Mike Dunleavy is 35. Kirk Hinrich is 34.
Rose himself is just 27, though his body is 47.
If the Bulls’ front office sees this season as the team’s best chance for a crown and nothing comes of it, there might be a radically different roster in a year. That’s called rebuilding. Enjoy.
“It still gets better every day,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said of Rose’s surgically repaired eye wound. But he added, ‘‘It’s not affecting how he plays.’’
Rose was 4-for-14 from the field in the Bulls’ 102-97 win over the Hornets. He also had eight assists, three turnovers and just one rebound.
His defense was nothing special. Was he worried about that?
‘‘No,’’ Rose replied. ‘‘I’m not worried about that at all.’’
The Bulls are 6-3, which is pretty good. But as everyone knows, all that matters is the postseason, almost half a year from now. Oh, and don’t forget the circus trip, starting Wednesday. That’s not the Bulls’ favorite trip.
You think of point guards around the NBA. Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Kyle Lowry — all are very good. Jeff Teague and Eric Bledsoe can play. You rank the players at Rose’s position, and it’s hard to put him even in the top 10.
“Still the same,’’ Rose said when asked about his vision, which he protects under his clear plastic mask. ‘‘It will catch up one day.”
It needs to catch up fast because the possibilities of youth and glory are fading fast.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.