It’s just fine – without sounding like a hot take-spewing blowhard – to conclude that Derrick Rose is a different player this season.
There have been flashes of greatness. Up until his last two games with the Chicago Bulls, Rose was approaching All-Star level efficiency numbers as he regained confidence in the pull-up two-pointers and floaters that made him so great prior to his ACL and meniscus tears. Over the last two contests, though, Rose has missed 28 of 35 shots (including 11 of 12 misses from behind the three-point arc), and he’s in danger of setting all sorts of records for the worst three-point shooter ever to take so many dang treys.
“Terrible,” Rose said, when asked to describe [Tuesday] night. But Rose won’t stop shooting. “My confidence to shoot is there,” he said. “All of them were on target. They’re just not falling. I’m not going to stop shooting. If they go under (screens), I’m going to shoot the shot. I work on it enough. I just haven’t seen them go in yet.”
There is a reason why defenders are going under screens set for Rose.
Derrick doesn’t quite have his MVP-level legs back yet, but he is still faster and stronger than most other NBA point guards when it comes to penetrating the paint. His work from behind the arc, however, is approaching Antoine Walker/Kobe Bryant-levels of ridiculousness – Rose is still shooting 5.4 threes per game in only 28 minutes a contest, and he’s making only 26 percent of those looks.
Worse, and this was the case prior to Rose’s injuries, the way he attempts those three-pointers vary from chuck to chuck. Rose will sometimes toss up a line drive, sometimes he put some arc on it, sometimes he’ll twist his body far too much to the left, and sometimes he’ll square up perfectly. All approaches, even the perfect one, usually create the same result. He’ll miss three of four shots from long range whether he’s shooting a line drive or a fundamentally-sound look.
As is the case with Bryant, Rose shouldn’t be shamed for shooting too much. He should be shamed for shooting the wrong shots.
During Derrick’s ACL rehabilitation, there was the hope that the time off would help him improve his dodgy three-point stroke. Those sorts of improvements didn’t take, but that’s just fine! Rose is the rare player that you don’t mind seeing toss up an 19-footer, even a somewhat contested one, because he used to be so great at them. His percentages on the right side of the floor approximate his pre-injury numbers, and his Chicago-styled one-handed runner remains an absolute killer. His numbers from close to the rim or from 10-feet in are exemplary this season.
He has to lose the three-pointer. Playing a game as a guard without use of a three-pointer in 2015 might seem like an anachronism, but Dwyane Wade is producing yet another killer season without relying much on that sort of threat, and numbers indicate that defenses aren’t really tripping over themselves to close out on Derrick once he lines up for his own sort of threat from out there.
He has to stop. It’s not helping his team, and the so-called “threat” of his three-point dalliances aren’t aiding in his abilities to get to the rim.
“Dalliances,” if we’re frank, is a kind way of putting it. Rose is tossing up 15 shots in those 28 minutes, which is fine, but over a third of them are three-pointers that he’s missing at a miserable rate. These Bulls weren’t constructed to win with Derrick Rose having to score 29 points and bail the squad’s offense out – prior to Rose’s recent swoon, this was a top five offense.
Chicago has the horses to win it all this year, and Rose remains one of them. He has to focus on what he does best, however, to make a difference for this team. He can’t be deluded into thinking that balancing an inside/outside game is helping his squad, or his potency. Somebody is going to have to encourage him to re-find that inner-Rod Strickland, and keep things closer to that painted area.
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