One of the most important qualifications to be a star in the NBA is to make an impact every night.
A rough quarter or quiet half will happen to anyone. But the best players don't let 48 minutes expire without making some sort of statement.
Through his first 10 games in the league, Derrick Rose has passed this test with flying colors. He's also showing an advanced ability to choose the right times to assert himself.
The worst thing Rose could do right now is go crazy at the start of games, even if he has a clear advantage over his opponent. It's vital to get everyone on the floor involved in the first quarter, because defenses will inevitably collapse on one dominant player and his teammates must be ready to contribute when that occurs.
It took players like Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas years to realize this, but it seems to come naturally to Rose.
In the past two games, Rose scored 14 points in the third quarter against Dallas, then had a 12-point third-quarter flurry in Saturday's win over Indiana. Both times, the Bulls took the lead for good. Rose's field-goal percentage during those two third quarters? A beyond-human .833 (10 for 12).
"He has a calmness about him," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He has the right demeanor. He just keeps coming at you. My job with him is every day, just let him learn one or two things and understand the game a little bit better and try to put him in areas where he can use his athleticism, make decisions for us and guys can feed off that."
Sure, it's early in the season and a brutal seven-game circus road trip is about to start. But it's worth asking if Rose can earn a spot on the all-star team this season. The Bulls have been without a representative since 1998.
Through 10 games, the 6-foot-2 guard is averaging 18.9 points, 5.6 assists and 5.0 rebounds, while shooting 46.8 percent from the field and better than 80 percent at the foul line.
It will be interesting to see if fans have caught onto Rose enough to vote him a starter. That dunk over Phoenix guard Leandro Barbosa on Nov. 7 may have helped announce his candidacy, since it received plenty of play on "SportsCenter" and NBATV.
That's not to say Rose is one of the two best guards in the East - Miami's Dwyane Wade is averaging 27.8 points and Atlanta's Joe Johnson is at 26.0 - but all-star voting is a popularity contest.
In the bigger picture, Rose's current statistics would qualify as one of the most impressive rookie seasons of this decade. Maybe it's silly to compare numbers with seven-eighths of the season still remaining, but this provides an illustration of where Rose may be headed compared to some of the best rookies of recent years:
• Kevin Durant, 2007-08: 20.3 points, 4.4 rebs., 2.4 rebs., .430 field-goal percentage.
• Brandon Roy, 2006-07: 16.8 points, 4.4 rebs., 4.0 asts., .456 FG pct.
• Chris Paul, 2005-06: 16.1 points, 7.8 asts., 5.1 rebs., .430 FG pct.
• LeBron James, 2003-04: 20.9 points, 5.9 asts., 5.5 rebs., .417 FG pct.
• Carmelo Anthony, 2003-04: 21.0 points, 6.1 rebs., 2.8 asts., .426 FG pct.
• Dwyane Wade, 2003-04: 16.2 points, 4.5 asts., 4.0 rebs., .465 FG pct.
Among this group, Rose has a higher shooting percentage than anyone, which suggests he knows how to attack defenses and is a better shooter than people may have originally thought. Also, his assists plus rebounds are higher than everyone but Paul and James.
Again, it's barely mid-November and stat lines can change significantly in a week. Rose is clearly off to a great start, though, which could make this week's late-night tipoffs against the Lakers and Blazers worth losing sleep over.