The Detroit Pistons had a season to forget, but they learned some lessons they’ll remember for next season. How to use Derrick Rose may be the biggest one.
The Detroit Pistons had one of the worst winning percentages in franchise history, but in some ways, things couldn’t have worked out much better. They hit the NBA’s coronavirus-induced hiatus with a 20-46 record, winning just 30.3 percent of their games, they have a chance at a high draft pick, they’ll have plenty of cap space and they were able to hit the reset button in a way that hasn’t presented itself in quite some time.
Never mind that this is may be the worst year to have a high draft pick and plenty of cap space in NBA history, but hey, you gotta worry about one problem at a time in this business.
The Pistons also learned a few valuable lessons this season. From just how good Christian Wood could be to the fact that Bruce Brown had utility at both guard spots, more is known about the team now than was known before the season began. One of the most important lessons they learned has to do with Derrick Rose.
At his best, he’s an athletic and energizing scorer. At his worst, he is unavailable because his health is a constant concern.
In the past seven seasons, he’s averaged just 45.2 games per campaign. He’s played over 51 games just twice, never more than 66 games in that span, and he played as little as 10 games and 25 games in two of those seasons.
The Detroit Pistons must avoid injury and burnout for Derrick Rose
The Pistons had the right idea to start things off this season. Rose had a minutes limit and head coach Dwane Casey was strict in adhering to it. He didn’t play more than 26 minutes until December 9th, didn’t play 28 minutes until December 16th and didn’t break 30 minutes until January 7th.
Of course, a big reason Rose’s minutes steadily increased was that the Pistons were cursed with terrible health luck. At one point all the point guards on the roster, Rose, Reggie Jackson and Tim Frazier, were out with various injuries. So as Jackson, in particular, continued to miss time, Rose’s minutes became more crucial especially as the Pistons began to slip further from playoff contention.
Once Rose’s minutes went up, so did the frequency of his injuries. Right before the All-Star break, he missed five straight games and then returned post-break to play seven more games, this time with a loose minutes restriction. He played 30 minutes in a game on the road against the Phoenix Suns on February 28th, then only played nine minutes the next game against the Sacramento Kings before being pulled from that game and missing the final four matchups before the hiatus on March 11th.
Going into next season, that minutes limit is going to have to remain firm, and Rose would be best served to continue to come off the bench even if the starting point guard is yet unknown. A reserve point guard being your best point guard (as will likely be the case unless they find a way to upgrade significantly), and a player who must play with a minutes limit, is far from an optimal situation.
However, this is the situation that the Detroit Pistons willingly opted into when they signed Derrick Rose last summer.