Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Regarding the evolution of Bulls All-Star point guard Derrick Rose, what’s the use of waiting any longer?
After seeing the way Rose has played in his third season, and especially the way he scored a career-high 42 points Thursday night while dominating in a 109-99 win over the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs, perhaps we should already classify Rose as a superstar.
Yes, a superstar. We don’t want to put too much on the young man too soon. So he’s not yet the superstar, as was the case with super-greats such as Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.
In Jordan’s third season, with his first of six NBA championships four seasons away, he averaged a career-high 37.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists. So, normal waiting rules were suspended and Jordan was dubbed the superstar. At the end of his 13-year career with the Bulls, he also would be hailed, in the words of 15-year reserve center Kurt Thomas and others, as ‘‘the greatest player of all time, hands down.’’
But in his third season, Hall of Famer Magic Johnson was elevated only to a superstar when he averaged 18.6 points, 9.5 assists and 9.6 rebounds on his way to leading the Los Angeles Lakers to the 1982 NBA crown.
As for Rose? With 28 games left in the regular season, the 22-year-old wunderkind is averaging 24.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 8.2 assists.
‘‘Derrick is playing the best basketball in the league right now,’’ Spurs All-Star center Tim Duncan said Thursday. ‘‘He’s got a great future ahead of him if he continues improving at this rate.’’
Bulls reserve forward Brian Scalabrine, a nine-year veteran, also left the United Center shaking his head after seeing Rose score the Bulls’ most points in a regular-season regulation game since Jamal Crawford scored 42 in a win over the Washington Wizards on Dec. 27, 2003.
‘‘I can truly say that Derrick Rose is not only the best teammate I’ve ever played with — I believe he is the best I will ever have,’’ Scalabrine said.
That’s speaking volumes since Scalabrine was on the Boston Celtics’ 2008 NBA championship team, which featured Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce. He also played with the New Jersey Nets with Richard Jefferson, Jason Kidd and Vince Carter.
Rose is the main reason Bulls starting center Joakim Noah, who has missed the last 30 games after surgery on his right hand, can’t wait to play again.
‘‘Derrick is developing into a very special player,’’ Noah said. ‘‘But he isn’t doing so at the expense of not making us a better team. He is a team player like we all are. But he makes us all so much better.’’
Scoring 29 points in the first three quarters was incredible in itself for Rose because he was playing the best team in the league.
‘‘But they had no answer for him,’’ forward Carlos Boozer said. ‘‘He beat the traps. He kept us moving the ball. He passed to the open players. He penetrated and scored at will. . . . All we had to do was get on his back and ride him to the win.’’
And while Rose was scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter, including the Bulls’ last 10, people had to wonder: Is it possible Rose got his dates mixed up? The All-Star game isn’t until Sunday in Los Angeles.
In any case, Rose couldn’t have wanted a better springboard going into All-Star weekend. He served notice he’s coming to play and he’ll have a chance to show a television audience of millions that he really earned selection to play with the game’s very best players.