By Zack Cimini
Defensive intensity has long left the NBA. The lack of effort is evident each night with teams scoring averages rising considerably. It’s a run and gun league that is guard oriented. Coaches get so desperate that they try to implement gimmick zone defenses for stretches.
Come playoff time some teams can ultimately decide that they’re going to suddenly play defense, as the Lakers have done the past few seasons.
We saw a crop of rookie guards last year storm the scene and make a relatively easy transition. This year Derrick Rose has went from an rising star to likely league MVP. The main reason for this is poor interior defense. Interior defense is supposed to be the area where the point guard has to make the decision. Not score at will.
The non threat inside the paint on the majority of NBA teams is causing a domino affect. Poor rotation is leaving legitimate shooters left wide open. JJ Redick has resurged from draft lottery bust, to finding minutes nailing open jumpers. There are a plethora of guys shooting in the high thirties or even above forty percent from three. Designing a play for offensive purposes has to be as easy as Charles Barkley uttering a sentence.
In comes Derrick Rose. An athlete barely past the age of 21. There is no doubt what he makes his living off of. He is an attacker and slasher. A bigger sized athletic point guard. It’s hard for anyone to stay in front of him. Sure he has worked on his jump shot and at times has had explosive games with it. Check his nightly highlight reels and game action, and he is scoring at will in the paint. Burning the other teams point guard, and getting to the hole with defenders waving him to the bucket.
Many think the Bulls can make a surprise run in the playoffs and why not. In the eastern conference there are no teams that scare the Bulls at all from the center position. The only team that does is Orlando with Dwight Howard. Howard gets his fair share of blocks, but the Magic lack the depth of big men to pose a seven game series threat. Everyone knows that Miami has struggled with the five position. They’re just trying to have the health to throw a 6’10 guy out there.
Boston’s strength was supposed to be at the five, but they decided to build by letting Kendrick Perkins go. Now they’ll take their chances with age. Both O’Neals have missed extensive time. Kevin Garnett may be called upon even more than prior years for Boston. Garnett’s true position like Amare Stoudemire is power forward.
Pick a team in the NBA and the majority have a weakness at the center position. The lack of skilled big man is a huge void currently. There are plenty of raw young talents that just need some time to develop.
This next NBA Draft shows no signs of any centers emerging. Derrick Rose might be the first point guard in a long time to win MVP with a scorers mentality. How long will his success slashing to the hole continue? As long as the NBA’s weakness at the five is prevalent it could extend for the next eight to ten years of his career.
The Wizards are one of few teams with athletic big men. When the Bulls have faced the Wizards, Javele McGee, Trevor Booker, and Andray Blatche have done a decent job shutting down Rose. In four games vs. the Wizards this year, Rose hasn’t had a game where he shot near fifty percent. In McGee’s triple double where he had twelve blocks, six of them were on Rose.