Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Click-a-Bull (D-Rose Edition: Overrated; Jump Shooter; 3-Point Touch)

Derrick Rose, The Word Overrated and Way Too Many Numbers

I love Derrick Rose.

Not only do I love Derrick Rose, but if you, by any chance, do not love Derrick Rose, chances are that I don’t like you as a person.

He is young. He has the sort of athleticism that is usually preserved for mutated cyborgs. In his free time, he teaches Slovenian basketball players where babies come from. And – don’t let the NCAA hear this – he would have led his college to the national championship as a freshman if it weren’t for Mario Chalmers. It’s impossible not to relate to that – every single one of us, at some point in our life, has had our dreams ruined by Mario Chalmers.

All this, and more, does nothing to change the fact that Derrick Rose, as presently constructed, is overrated.

Now, before I am stoned to death by angry Bulls fans, allow me to clarify what I mean by overrated. The word overrated is defined by the free online dictionary as “to overestimate the merits of; rate too highly.” And yet, it is usually taken to mean “absolutely terrible.” For example: I think Kobe Bryant, until this season, has been overrated as a clutch performer. What I mean by this is that Kobe, while a great clutch performer, had an overblown reputation as an absolute clutch assassin, before catching up to that reputation this season (and man, it’s been mind-blowing to watch). What most people probably see in that sentence is “I hate Kobe Bryant and want him him to spend the rest of his life in Siberia without a coat.”

Such is the case with Derrick Rose. He is currently a very good basketball player and will hopefully evolve into an extremely good basketball player in the near future. However, the general conception that he has already made the leap to superstardom (as evidenced by his All-Star appearance and by numerous “is Derrick Rose a top 5 point guard/top 20 player” discussions throughout the web) is premature.

So, what makes Derrick Rose overrated?

Derrick Rose the jump shooter

When Derrick Rose entered the NBA, one of the biggest flaws in his game was the lack of a consistent jump shot. Heck, after his rookie season, Rose even drew some unfavorable comparisons to former Bull “Big Shot” Larry Hughes.

I think you’ll agree when I say: Ouch.

Give the kid credit. He spent the summer working with a shot doctor to improve his jumper…and it’s paid off. According to HoopData, here are Rose’s field goal percentages by shot location for the 2009-10 season:

At the rim: 54.2%
Less than 10 ft: 58.2%
10-15 feet: 50.0%
16-23 feet: 43.0%
3-pointers: 30.0%

Now here are the same numbers from the 2008-09 season:

At the rim: 58.0%
Less than 10 ft: 47.0%
10-15 feet: 38.0%
16-23 feet: 43.0%
3-pointers: 22.2%

As you can see, his long-range shooting (from 16-23 feet) hasn’t changed, while there has been a slight uptick to his three-point accuracy and a minor downtick to his at the rim percentage. However, you can see the drastic change in his marksmanship from the two midrange zones. This can be attributed not only to practice and improved shooting form, but also in the development of two key moves: his running floater and the pull-up jump shot.

The question that keeps coming up — and certainly it came up after he attempted a career-high seven three-pointers in Monday night’s home win over the Rockets — is whether Rose is taking too many jumpers.

Rose developing three-point touch

The biggest running joke in the victorious Chicago Bulls locker room on Monday night had nothing to do with coach Vinny Del Negro's ejection, but with Derrick Rose's new 3-point prowess.

Rookie James Johnson spent a couple of moments playfully asking reporters for a microphone so he could ask his teammate about his most recent long-distance bomb.

Rose just laughed off the jokes, but it's safe to say that everyone has taken notice of the All-Star point guard's new range. In the past two games, Rose is 6 for 13 from 3-point range. To put that in perspective, he was just 1 for 4 from the arc the past 10 games in which he played.

So where did the newfound confidence in the longer jumper come from all of a sudden?

"That's something I've just been working on," Rose said after Monday's shootaround. "Almost every day I've just been shooting them. They were giving me the shot, so why not take it?"

As Rose gave his explanation, Del Negro came into the small media pack and started shaking his head when the mere mention of his young star's long-distance shot came up. It's not that Del Negro doesn't want him taking the shot, it's that he doesn't want Rose to fall in love with it and forget about driving to the basket.

"He's been working on [3-pointers] for a while," Del Negro said after the Bulls' 98-88 victory Monday night against the Houston Rockets. "I don't want him to fall in love with the 3 just yet. But when he's open, and he feels good about it, I want him to feel confident to knock those down.

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