Blog Entry

The rise of Derrick Rose

Posted on: February 9, 2011 5:39 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2011 5:57 pm
Taking a look at Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose's offensive improvement and MVP candidacy. Posted by Ben Golliver.

The main storyline out of Portland's win over Chicago on Monday was that Blazers forward Nicolas Batum may or may not have called out Bulls point guard Derrick Rose's defense. This was a disappointing turn of events, for two reasons.

First: Because Rose is a committed, solid, by-the-book defender who doesn't regularly make spectacular plays but expends more energy on that end than most superstars that carry such a heavy burden on offense. Second: Because both Batum and NBA scouts left the Rose Garden on Monday night extremely impressed with Rose's offensive development, specifically the gameplan-altering work that Rose has put into his jumper. 

Rose's offensive development this season has been discussed a fair bit: his three-point shooting percentage is way up, boosting his overall eficiency and complementing his lethal first step to make him as difficult a one-on-one cover as there is in the NBA. Here's a look at his per-game numbers.

This season, Rose has taken more shots than ever (a career-high 20.1 attempts per game, up from 17.6 last season) and, not surprisingly, his overall field goal percentage has taken a hit (it sits at 44.7%, down from 48.9% last season). Coupled with his spike from deep (at 36.4%, improved from 26.7% last season), you won't be surprised to find out that's shot location data show big-time drop offs in Rose's mid-range shooting percentages.

If there was a message imparted by decision-makers on Monday, though, it was this: Don't let those numbers fool you into thinking there's been any type of regression in Rose's game. He's a better shooter today -- from everywhere on the floor -- than he's ever been, and he commands far more defensive attention in the mid-range than he did in previous seasons, when teams played the odds and dared him to shoot on a regular basis. 

So why are the numbers down? A few explanations. One, he's seeing lots of extra defensive attention and therefore taking way more contested jumpers. His usage rate is sky-high usage -- Rose is No. 2 in the league in usage rate, trailing only Kobe Bryant, but playing nearly five more minutes a game than he does -- and efficiency almost always tails off when you reach those upper bounds.

Looking at tape of the Portland game, it's easy to see the progress in Rose's shot and also admire the regularity with which Chicago's offense puts him in good position to beat teams in a variety of ways.

Early in the game, Chicago got Rose going immediately, running him off of two dribble hand-offs, both of which he promptly knocked down for open jumpers. Portland responded by strongly overplaying Rose, trying to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible. Chicago adjusted right back, using a back screen to free Rose coming across the key. Take a look at this gorgeous mid-range floater that he confidently, almost non-chalantly, flips in over the seven-foot Joel Przybilla.

Rose simply couldn't miss from outside to open the game, so Portland began alternating defenders and switching all picks when Rose had the ball in his hands. This is a difficult proposition given how many pick-and-rolls Chicago runs, how effective Rose is in the pick-and-roll and how much Rose has improved his shot mechanics. Just minutes into the game and he was necessitating full-scale attention and adjustments. 

Even during the rare occasion when Chicago bogged down a bit on offense during the first half, Rose's jumper was there to save the day. Here, he realized that, with seven seconds left on the shot clock, he had to make something happen, so he used a screen to escape to the corner. The forced switch took place with Batum winding up on Rose as the shot clock crept below five. Batum, an elongated and not-quite-polished version of Shane Battier, is a tough guy to shoot over given his length, but Rose did what he does best: create space off the bounce. With a lightening quick dribble move, Rose finds his shooting window and rises up with excellent form, on-balance and able to hold the follow-through. That's a tough shot from just inside the three-point line, and it's one Portland is happy to have Rose settle for. But it's also one he buried to save the possession.

Later in the second quarter, we have a somewhat similar situation. Rose finds himself guarded by Batum and he again looks to use his quickness to his advantage. He gets Batum back on his heels, as Batum is thinking drive prevention and paint protection. Rose stops on a dime as few can, pulls back directly into his shot motion, and, with his shoulders square and his ability to follow through intact, he steps in at the free throw line and buries the contested jumper.  If you're nit-picking, you're not thrilled that he falls back a bit after the release but, given his body language, it appears he knew the shot was good as soon as he let it go. A high degree-of-difficulty shot made to look easy.

Later, in the third quarter, Rose uses a high pick-and-roll excellently, stringing out Portland's defense to create space for his big man to roll and to force the rest of Portland's defense to scramble behind him. After patiently surveying the scene, Rose pulls up, knowing Przybilla, who has switched on to him, won't be able to elevate quickly enough to contest his jumper. Again, the mechanics are very good: shoulders square, shooting motion pulled up in rhythm, follow through on point. 

The final one we'll look at combines Rose's speed on the ball, uncanny ability to find new angles as he's driving and solid shot mechanics again. The final product here is a bit more highlight-reel oriented, given the nasty crossover and the quickness of the pull-up, but again his shoulders are square, his follow through is there and his shooting motion is smooth and quick off the bounce. He's in rhythm once again and, given how close he is, the fallaway doesn't affect the ball's ability to get to the rim. Money once again.  

drose-shot-chart On the night, Rose was 14-27 for 36 points, but just 1-6 from deep. His shot chart shows just how often he went to the mid-range game and the success he had there. 

Afterwards, Batum summarized the state of improvement: ""I'm impressed by his jump shot. His first two years, if you guard D. Rose you just stand back and let him shoot it. Now he proves it a lot with his jump shots, makes it so difficult to guard him. Because now if you step back he makes everything, and going to the rim, he's too fast." 

Lest you think Rose was all jumpes in this game, don't overlook this absurd spin move or this vicious crossover for a dunk. Generally, in this type of situation, the next step would be to suggest the player continue to attack the basket and get to the free throw line to further improve his efficiency, but Rose has never had a problem getting to the rim and, as Basketball Prospectus noted today, has improved his ability to get to the free throw line recently. 

The only thing left, really, is to allow his mechanical improvements to continue to take hold. It's scary to imagine, one observer hypothesized, how good Rose can be as an offensive force if he improves as much during the next two summers as he did during this past summer. 

The scariest part: Rose has already closed the gap on the very upper echelong of efficient point guards. Here's a chart of the league's most efficient points and Rose's substantial improvement over the last three seasons.
Here's the relevant raw per-game numbers if you're interested as well.

After viewing all of that tape, Rose evokes a bit of Steve Nash, doesn't he? His ability to clear space, find a clean look, hit the off-balance shot as long as he's in rhythm, not to mention his ability to string out defenses and force big men to go places they don't want to go. Nash isn't a comparison that first comes to mind -- given how physically imposing and athletic Rose is -- but I think there are growing similarities there, particularly in their mastery of the nuances of the pick-and-roll chess match.

So where does all of this leave me on the key Rose questions: Is he the best point guard in the game and is he an MVP candidate? 

To the first question: I will copout and say he's the most important and most difficult to defend point guard in the game but I'll stop short of calling him the "best," given the year Chris Paul is having. However, if I had to pick one point guard to build a team around for the next 10 years, Rose would be the choice and it wouldn't be particularly close.

To the second question, I think he's on the outer fringes but not quite there yet. The occasional critical mental error and forced shot hold him back, at least for now. But given another summer or two to improve and/or another complementary perimeter scorer? There's nothing stopping him.

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: February 10, 2011 4:58 pm

The rise of Derrick Rose

Chicago hasn't even been healthy yet.  Lebron may need a title this year, Chicago may own the East for the next couple of seasons.

Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:22 pm

The rise of Derrick Rose are a tard.....until he leads them there? hes old was pierce when he finally won? Why did he..maybe because he was teamed up with garnett and allen....the bulls are a good 2 guard away from being a dominant team in the east...add that to rose....and boozer...noah plays great defense and holds his teammates accountable...muich like garnett has done, though noah is only 25....boozer is the old man at 29, rose is 22, noah and deng are both 25, and gibson is 22...couple more good picks in the draft or through free agency will get them there...this is why the spurs won so much great players...with well matched role players....same with the lakers...celts....the magics window is the near future i see the bulls, knicks, and heat being the top teams in the east over the next say ten years....the celts are good...but theyre getting older....the magic are falling apart..and once howard is a free agent..things may really change..the hawks will be very good...but they dont have a game changer ....i really cant wait till the playoffs..there will be some epic series.....imagine a bulls celtics semis with magic heat semis.....should be exciting

Since: Jan 2, 2008
Posted on: February 10, 2011 12:51 pm

The rise of Derrick Rose

D-Rose showed his D-fense last night! Take that Derron Williams!!! Haha

Since: Apr 7, 2009
Posted on: February 10, 2011 10:27 am

The rise of Derrick Rose

SoxCeltsPats has Durant ever lead his team to a championship? So by those measures his numbers also mean squat, along with almost everyone else in the NBA. I dont see Lebron leading his team to championships, but yet he wins the MVPS. Terrible logic, the Bulls go as Rose goes.  

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: February 10, 2011 9:46 am

The rise of Derrick Rose

You can tell Rose is working hard at his game and his weak areas are improving. The work ethic is what will make the difference between Rose becoming a Kobe, Wade type of talent or a Vince Carter type of talent.

Rose is going to be a superstar if he stays healthy.

Since: Apr 7, 2009
Posted on: February 10, 2011 9:27 am

The rise of Derrick Rose

Speedracer...well said!  

Who the heck is Batum to call someone out on defense?!  He's in 2 of the highlights getting scored on by Rose.  Last time i checked, Batum hadn't made any all-defensive teams!  Batum says, "Rose can't guard Dre", really and Dre can guard Rose....36 points compared to 27 points....who can't guard who?

Since: May 9, 2009
Posted on: February 10, 2011 9:21 am

The rise of Derrick Rose

If D.Rose isn't the MVP this year he'll finish in the top 3.  Its just a matter of time before he wins mulitiple MVP awards.  The guy has come into his own, has worked on his jump shot since his rookie year and now is finally getting the calls to get to the line.  The NBA should be thrilled to have guys like him and Kevin Durant taking over as future stars as the NBA and it makes watching pro basketball fun again. 

Since: Jan 13, 2011
Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:54 am

The rise of Derrick Rose

I was very impressed with Rose's game when I watched Chicago play Portland. He has improved a lot, especially in his shooting. He's also a clutch go to scorer. He's also so quick and slippery. But Nic Batum was right in saying that his defense is average at best. And for my money he doesn't control a game and put his teammates in the best position to be successful like Steve Nash or Chris Paul do. He's more of a scorer than a passer- and maybe he should be, considering how well he does it. Not the MVP yet, though.

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: February 10, 2011 12:27 am

The rise of Derrick Rose

Sorry on that too, Rose is NOT the MVP.   Durant means more to his team is you're going that route ... so does Dwight Howard, and Amare Stoudemire for that matter.
And you figure this how? Let's also add that Derrick Rose and the Bulls have a better record than the Thunder, Magic and Knicks. Heck the Knicks are flirting with .500. Please tell me who are the other ballhandlers on the Bulls? Oh that's right it's just C.J. Watson who barely looks in sync on the floor. Let's also add the Bulls have yet to have a fully healthy roster for some time. First Carlos Boozer was out, then Joakim Noah. So basically...well...there is no basically to it. Rose has carried his team and his team is currently doing more than all those you listed. 

But for individual talent, it would have to be LeWrong Blames as much as I hate to say that.
If it was that simple Michael Jordan would have won it over and over, Kobe Byrant over and over, Shaquille O'neal over and over...I think you get the drift.

If it's based on defense KG would get it.
If it was that simple Ben Wallace would have won it over and over. Scottie Pippen over and over. Dennis Rodman over and over...I think you get my drift.

If you don't...your points made little sense and had little to do with anything.
 Rose is good ... but he's got a long way to go before he's considered in the MVP talk.
A long way? Well, hate to break it to ya but he is being considered in the MVP talk. Even the three examples you are using his team is outperforming so yes, he is meaning more to his team than those guys. It's rather simple and plain. 

Since: Feb 10, 2007
Posted on: February 9, 2011 11:48 pm

The rise of Derrick Rose

As for the "MVP" talk ... Sorry on that too, Rose is NOT the MVP.   Durant means more to his team is you're going that route ... so does Dwight Howard, and Amare Stoudemire for that matter.   But for individual talent, it would have to be LeWrong Blames as much as I hate to say that.  If it's based on defense KG would get it.  Rose is good ... but he's got a long way to go before he's considered in the MVP talk. 

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