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The return of Derrick Rose needs to happen on defense, too

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Much has been made lately of the reawakening of Derrick Rose.

Based on the eye test, some say his recent performances are as close to MVP-Rose as we have seen. Others cite his offensive numbers over the past two months to confirm “The Return.”

No doubt, post-surgery Rose has never looked better offensively than in the last couple of months.

With a healthy Rose, Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls won nearly 73 percent of their games. Things haven’t been the same for new coach Fred Hoiberg. With Rose in the lineup and playing his best basketball in four seasons, the Bulls are 5-8 in January and 3-5 in February. Granted, other Bulls have been injured, but it sure seems like the best of Rose is being wasted.

Or, is Rose the problem despite the apparent resurgence?

While everyone focuses on his ankle-breaking crossovers and ridiculous driving layups, they’re forgetting the game of basketball is played at both ends of the court.

At his best, Rose was never anything more than an average defender. Since the injuries, though, his defensive metrics have slipped even more.

In his last 21 games, by far his best offensive stretch of the season, Rose has just six positive plus-minus games. That could be him, or it could be the burden of having Pau Gasol helping on screen-roll. (By the way, Gasol has 13 positive plus-minus games during that same span.)

While Rose is getting his points with Jimmy Butler out of the lineup, so are his opponents. His last four games have looked like this: Jordan Clarkson 20 to Rose’s 26; Kyle Lowry 27 to 24; Kyrie Irving 19 to 28; and, Jeff Teague 17 to 14.

Even more telling is the advanced metric “defensive real plus-minus,” which analyzes a player’s defensive contribution to his team per 100 possessions.

Of the 85 point guards in the league, Rose ranks 83rd this season with a -3.61 DRPM. Only Gary Neal (-4.48) of the Wizards and J.J. Barea (-5.04) of the Mavs are worse.

In fact, among the Bulls, Rose is the team’s worst defender, a little below Doug McDermott (-3.40).

It could explain why the Bulls’ wins and losses are not predicated on Rose’s offensive output.

Derrick Rose injury history

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