2010-2011 perception of Derrick Rose:
- The next savior of Chicago.
- Youngest MVP in NBA history.
- The new face of the league.
- Explosion, power, excitement.
2015-2016 perception of Derrick Rose:
- Broken-down goods, a skeleton of the past, injury prone.
- Prima-donna, self concerns over team concerns.
- Another quick flash of brilliance; now buried into the What Could Have Been files
Perception is powerful, fair or not. As difficult as perceptions are to build, they are even harder to change. Usually. So, is Derrick Rose done? Is his value as a high-level game-changing NBA floor general gone? That’s certainly the perception now. One of the most promising players possibly in league history has now been written off by basically… everyone. Even his hometown of Chicago. Poll any random Windy City resident and the general consensus you will get on Rose will be – ‘It’s time to move on.’ But is it? Is Derrick Rose really done?
We’re about to find out.
Sure, Rose might not be having the most efficient start to the season (9.88 PER) and also might not be shooting the highest percentage from the field (36.3 percent). It’s easy to pile on the bandwagon. And it’s also of course worth noting that the leader of Fred Hoiberg’s newly installed offense is leading them to a not-so-dynamic 27th league ranking at a 98.0 offensive efficiency rating.
But let’s not only look at the surface level and the obvious points. Let’s look deeper.
What made Rose great was his fearlessness and his attack mentality paired with reckless abandon. Add that to his world-class athleticism and explosiveness and you get one of the highest level playmakers to play in the NBA. That version of Rose went MIA, it is no longer. But to say Rose is done, that’s not fair, nor true. Now, the second half of the story begins… The Transformation of Derrick Rose.
Plainly put, for Rose to be successful at a high level he is going to have to transform his game from raw ability dependent on athleticism to high IQ development that’s mind dependent. It’s not going to happen overnight, of course, but it can be done. Quietly and slowly, he is beginning to take those steps.
The perception of Rose’s play this season is that he has been passive and isn’t the same attacking the basket as the Rose we all knew and grew to love. Sure, his finishing percentage isn’t as high as it was during his MVP season, but his allocation of attempts around the basket (shots attempted within 10 feet of the hoop) is actually higher this season at 37.1 percent of his offensive opportunities than it was during 2010-2011.
Rose realizes he’s not the same isolation player he was five years ago. In his MVP season, 18.5 percent of his offensive attempts came out of isolation situations. This season: 9.8 percent. You can read in two different ways: 1. Derrick Rose is no longer a high-level one-on-one player; 2. Derrick Rose understands that for the Bulls to be successful, isolation basketball is not the most efficient.
If he was the old Rose, then the initial statement would be true, that he has been passive this season. I think he’s developing control instead. Rose is picking and choosing his opportunities when they present themselves rather than forcing the issue. Rose’s turnover rate per 100 possessions currently is at one of the lowest points it’s been in his career. He’s also beginning to understand what it takes to be more of true point guard compared the high-volume shooting point guard he was in the past. Over the past 25 years in the NBA (excluding last season and the anomaly that is Stephen Curry), there has been only one team to win the NBA Finals with a point guard 6-foot-3 or under carrying the scoring load – the 1990 Isiah Thomas-led ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons.
In Rose’s 2010-2011 MVP season, he was much more prominent in isolation situations, ranking in the Top 4 percent of the league at a 1.091 points per possession. Sure, he hasn’t been anywhere close to that mark this season, but is that such a bad thing? Rose in now putting himself into more pick-and-roll situations (high IQ offensive situation) than ever before in his career (42 percent of his offensive allocations) and taking smarter shots.
Instead of going for the rim to try the difficult finishes which made him a nightly Sportscenter highlight reel, Rose is taking what the defense gives him. Currently, he is shooting a career-high 53.8 percent in jumpers in the 10-16 foot range. Side note: He does need to look to utilize this strength in his game more often, only attempting these shots as 14.3 percent of his offensive opportunities. He will.
Also, deferring to teammates isn’t such a bad thing for Rose after all. More Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic, and Pau Gasol offensively and less of Rose from the scoring aspect might just be the key formula to steering the Hoiberg offense in the right direction.
Defensively, Rose is also beginning to take more leadership. Ironically, in the first season without defensive guru Tom Thibodeau, Rose’s defensive rating is at 103, the best it’s been in five years and basically the same level it was during his MVP season. Even though his dependence on athletic brilliance might not be the same as it was in the past, his understanding and knowledge of defensive positioning has increased.
In Rose’s MVP year, he was one of the premier defensive guards in the league, containing opponents to just 0.781 points per possession. This season, Rose is at a very similar number: 0.813. That puts him ahead of valued backcourt defenders like Matthew Dellavedova or Elfrid Payton. In a league that is heavily dependenr on guard ability to manage the pick-and-roll, Rose shuts it down defensively more effectively than he did during his MVP campaign at 0.743 ppp.
With change comes growing pains. But with growing pains comes growth. Maybe we were spoiled too early with the brilliance of something we had never seen before in the explosiveness and dominance that Rose brought to the game. But when standards are set, along come expectations and perceptions. Sure, it can be noted that Rose hasn’t had one dunk all season (a far cry from the Rose we all came to know).
Like it or not, Rose is not the same player he was in 2010-2011 and never will be. But that’s perfectly OK. Those who never change when change is needed get left behind.
David Nurse is a professional shooting coach. You can learn more about him at PerfectShotsBasketball.com, the best shooting and skills basketball website in the world. You can also follow him on Twitter @davidnurse05.