Tom Thibodeau on Derrick Rose’s lack of free throw trips: ‘I think sometimes he’s penalized for being a nice guy’

Kelly Dwyer
November 5, 2013

Outside of his game-winner against the New York Knicks, free throw accuracy might be the only sunshine in Derrick Rose’s rather bleak return to action thus far in 2013-14. The Chicago Bulls point guard is nearly perfect from the line this season, hitting for nine out of ten over three games.

There’s a problem in that, though. That’s just 10 free throws on the year for a player who routinely drives to the rim to absorb contact. Just 10 free throws while working a league notorious for trusting stars above plebs when it comes to calls that could go either way. And Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, when asked why Rose has been relatively absent from the line thus far, couldn’t help but take a shot at why Rose keeps missing out.

Via Pro Basketball Talk, from Herb Gould at the Chicago Sun-Times:

‘‘Next question,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said before weighing in. ‘‘I’ll say this: I don’t know of anyone who drives as hard as he does. Nor as fast as he does. And I think sometimes he’s penalized for being a nice guy. I’ll leave it at that.’’

Rose offered a similar brand of milquetoast:

‘‘I can’t complain about it,’’ Rose said. ‘‘All I can do is continue to drive. I guess I’m not getting fouled.’’

We’ve been over this time and time again, especially during Rose’s first two years in the league, when he averaged a shockingly-low 3.6 foul shots per 36 minutes – the exact rate Rose is working with so far in 2013-14.

Derrick’s no wuss, he doesn’t stray from contact and he loves to drive the lane and work near the rim. The distinction is that Rose goes into the lane actually looking to score, as opposed to looking to get fouled. Like a basketball player. Not like an NBA player.

Now that we’ve established that, it is fair to say that Rose has relied more on his pull-up jumper through three games this season than he has in the past, the eye test and the stats will tell you as much. That’s a function of working his way back into NBA shape mentally – it’s hard to dive back into the trees, full of limbs meant to send you off balance as you crash to the floor, after sitting out for 18 months following an ACL tear. Part of that is his improved jumper, one that looked just fine during Chicago’s unbeaten exhibition run, one that saw Rose come through with MVP-level contributions per minute.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Basketball: Don't wait, sign up today!]

Part of this is also … three friggin’ games. We’re three games in, against disparate defenses like the dominant (but center-less) Miami Heat, the iffy (but boasting an all-world center in Tyson Chandler) New York Knicks, and the freakshow that is the unpredictable Philadelphia 76ers. Derrick’s played just 100 minutes so far this year, so it’s best not to overreact.

Or to cost yourself some money, via a fine by the NBA. Tom Thibodeau did well to avoid both outcomes.

Sort of like Derrick Rose avoids contact.


- - - - - - -

Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!