Derrick Rose is in attack mode. For now.
Last night in the Chicago Bulls’ season-opening 97-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, which was salvaged by a Pau Gasol block on LeBron James in the game’s final seconds, Rose attacked the basket with the ferocity that made him such a darling in the Windy City and the league’s MVP in 2011.
We all know the story. Ever since becoming the youngest player in league history to receive the MVP award, Rose’s days as a Chicago Bull have been marred by injury. Rose’s slew of ailments have forced him to recalibrate his game, and in doing so he’s elected to meander around the three-point line a lot more than in the past.
Last season Rose attempted a career-high 5.3 three-pointers per game, but shot a repugnant 28% from behind the arc. Rose, along with Monta Ellis and Russell Westbrook, were the only three players last season to attempt 270 three-pointers or more and shoot 30% or lower on those bombs. In addition to this, Rose’s three-point attempt rate (percentage of field goal attempts from downtown,) was .325, the highest of his career, and the first and only time he’s hit the “>” 30 ledger. Lastly, let’s take a look at Rose’s shot chart from last season.
With the exception of the left corner and the right wing, Rose was below the league average from every sector of the floor in terms of three-point shooting. That’s why on Tuesday night Rose’s play was so encouraging. It’s as if he took the time to digest this data, and made a concentrated effort to play his brand of basketball. The hope now is that he doesn’t stray and revert back to last season’s ways.
As noted, Rose was a huge proponent of the three-point shot last season, but against Cleveland he bombarded to the basket time and time again despite the early rim protecting presence of Timofey Mozgov and the fact that he was being hindered by blurry vision.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, 15 of Rose’s 22 shots last night came in the paint, which marks the second most paint attempts he’s had in a contest since tearing his ACL in 2012. Rose fanned on all five of his attempts from 15+ feet out, but ten of his attempts were from 5.6 feet or closer, illustrating that his mind was fixated on getting to the rim.
It’ll be interesting to see if Rose continues to charge to the cup, especially as the rigors of an 82-game season begin to take it’s toll. Last season Rose had a true shooting percentage of 43.7% with zero days rest, the lowest out of any scenario involving relaxation.
Rose’s creaky knees could explain the reason for last season’s shooting woes in back-to-back game situations, as his oft-injured body was still trying to get acclimated to Association basketball, and hopefully this season he’s able to rectify this issue by taking smarter shots. Limiting the amount of bad three-point heaves will definitely assist Rose in becoming not only more efficient with no days of rest in between games, but for the entirety of the season. Last year Rose shot 40% from the floor, the lowest he’s shot in a season he’s played in at least 39 games.
It’s obvious Rose is leery and plans to preserve his body after enduring countless hardships on the injury front, but settling for three-pointers didn’t catapult him into the upper echelon of NBA point guards several years ago. Rose’s athletic ability paired with his quickness and power made him one of the most intimidating physical specimens at the point guard position, and although the full rekindling of that freakish flame is unlikely, it can still burn defenses from time to time. The degree to which it does is just up to Rose and which shots he chooses to take.