Derrick Rose would never say it and probably would never even think it, but his MVP 2010-11 campaign was a direct assault on critics of his game in his first two NBA seasons. Rose worked hard to address his weaknesses. Not a good enough outside shooter? He went from 16 3-pointers to 128. Doesn't draw enough contact in the paint? Rose attempted nearly as many free throws as in his first two seasons combined. Weak defensively? He helped the Chicago Bulls lead the league in defensive rating and finished fifth among guards in NBA All-Defensive Team voting.
So what should we expect for an encore? Despite Rose's youth and growth so far, it might be wise to temper expectations.
The improvement we saw from Rose in 2010-11 was relatively uncommon. Among players who started out average or better and played at least 1,000 minutes both seasons, his .176 jump in Basketball Prospectus' per-minute win percentage rating was the fourth largest in the past 30 years. As you might expect, players who were already effective and got so much better have tended to emerge as superstars, so two of the three names ahead of Rose on the list are quite familiar: LeBron James (in his second NBA season) and Dwyane Wade (in 2008-09, when he bounced back to superstar status after two injury-plagued seasons).
What's most interesting about this group is that the players regressed the season after making their big jump.