LAS VEGAS – No short shots.
Those are the words Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose(notes) has been scolding himself with this offseason after each front-rim jump shot. The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year can blow by anyone with his crossover dribble. He can pass. He can dunk. But if there's any flaw in Rose's impressive game, it's his inconsistent jumper. Every team knows it.
And that's why Rose has spent much of this summer in the gym working to become a better shooter.
"In the beginning I was thinking about it. I would settle for a pass instead of making myself a threat," Rose said during Team USA's three-day minicamp. "But I'm learning from it."
When Rose starred in high school and college he didn't need to rely on his jump shot. His quickness was good enough to get him in the lane. That's not always the case in the NBA, where teams have elected to sag off him and dare him to shoot. Rose shot a respectable 47.5 percent last season, but that was in spite of his jump shot, not because of it. He made only 16 of 72 3-pointers.
Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro, a great midrange shooter during his own NBA career, and his staff worked with Rose on his shooting mechanics. One of their goals was to get Rose to stop floating backward after his release. The Bulls saw improvement with each passing month. While Rose missed all four of his 3-pointers in the Bulls' seven-game, first-round series against the Boston Celtics, he made his midrange shot consistently.
"I got used to it toward the end [of the regular season] and in the playoffs," Rose said. "I was just shooting the ball and not caring if I missed three in a row, four in a row."
About three weeks after the Bulls were eliminated by Boston, Rose was in Santa Monica, Calif., working on his jumper, conditioning and other aspects of his game with trainer Rob McClanaghan. McClanaghan said Rose had problems with consistency because he often shot flat with his palm on the ball. Not enough lift on his shot left too many of them hitting the front of the rim. McClanaghan challenged Rose to shoot for the back of the rim. When Rose missed, McClanaghan was quick to remind him. "No short shots," he'd say. Or, "finish the shot."
Rose now reminds himself.
"I don't know if it was ever that bad," McClanaghan said about Rose's shot. "He just needs to be consistent."
Rose takes about 500 jumpers six days a week when he and McClanaghan are in the gym with other players like Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook(notes). When they're alone, that number doubles.
McClanaghan said he's seen Rose gain more confidence. Del Negro has noticed a change, as well.
"When you put in the time and the effort, good things usually happen," Del Negro said.
In addition to improving his midrange jumper, Rose hopes to show next season he can also become a respectable 3-point threat. Combine that with his quickness, and opposing teams will have more reason to sweat when facing him.
Said Rose: "I'm going to be tough to guard."