According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spent time this summer working with Joakim Noah, and Kareem “expects [Noah] to have expanded post game this season.”
There are 38,387 reasons to think Kareem knows how to score the basketball (hint: that figure represents the record he holds for the most total points in NBA history). That’s not Abdul-Jabbar’s only number one all-time ranking. He’s also the NBA’s career leader in Offensive Win Shares. (Rounding out the top five in that category are Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and…John Stockton. Bet you didn’t expect to see Stockton in the top five did you? Karl Malone is ranked sixth.)
And in case you suffer from the misconception that the Sky Hook was the only weapon in Kareem’s offensive arsenal, you should probably watch the following video:
There’s no question that the Sky Hook was Kareem’s go-to move, but he had others. Many others. Moreover, Kareem knew how to get position, developed an excellent sense of what the defense was giving him, and had both excellent footwork and a soft shooting touch. These are all keys to post play.
Kareem was also a solid offensive rebounder and a deft passer…skills Noah already has in abundance.
No, what Joakim needs (and what he needed to learn from Abdul-Jabbar) is improved scoring ability. Last season, Jo regressed as a scorer both in terms of points (from 11.7 in 2010-11 to 10.2 in 2011-12) and field goal percentage (from 52.5 to 50.9). According to Hoopdata, Noah converted only 58.7 percent of his shots at the rim, a dismal 34.6 percent of his shots from 3-9 feet and an embarrassing 21.7 percent from 10-15 feet. He did knock down 43 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet…but that’s not where you want your near-seven-footer shooting from unless his name is Dirk Nowitzki.
In addition to footwork and post positioning, Noah could also stand to develop more of a scorer’s mentality. Most of the time when Jo gets the ball, he’s thinking pass. With the way he hesitates, it seems like he regards shooting as a last resort.
A lot of that comes with confidence in one’s shooting ability and ability to just flat out score. I’ve never seen that from Noah. Which makes me wonder how much Kareem’s teaching can help him. I believe Noah can learn the skills, hone his shooting, continue to develop his hook, and so on. But can he adopt a scoring mindset?
The article produced some not-so-surprising results (the Spurs had the league’s “winningest” offense and Chris Paul was the top offensive player) and a few that were surprising (such as Charlotte’s even-worse-than-we-could-have-imagined offensive ineptitude and the fact that Tyson Chandler ranked as the league’s second-best offensive force).
From a Bulls perspective, it was somewhat surprising that Joakim Noah ranked as the league’s seventh-best offensive player behind only Paul, Chandler, Steve Nash, LeBron James, James Harden and Ryan Anderson.
I know we’ll get a little flack from this chart but it’s important to remember that offense is not just about taking shots. Passing the ball, getting the ball and keeping the ball matter too! Players like Joakim Noah, Kawhi Leonard and Tyson Chandler may not jump to mind when we think offense but it turns out their contributions can be quite valuable.
Now here’s where things get a little strange. Alvarez goes on to rank Chicago’s top five offensive players as Noah (by a country mile), Kyle Korver, Omer Asik, Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose.
Seeing Noah and Korver ranked above Rose in offense seems somewhat reasonable. According to Basketball-Reference, they co-led the team in Offensive Rating at 120 points per 100 possessions (Rose was third at 112). Furthermore, Noah led the team in Offensive Win Shares at 4.9 with Rose coming in second at 4.1 (although Rose played 25 fewer games and was injured most of the season).
However, Asik ranked dead last in Offensive Rating — below even Brian Scalabrine — at 97 points per 100 possessions. Omer and Mike James tied for second-to-last in Offensive Win Shares at 0.1. And did I mention Asik has no hands (turnover rate of 25.2) and shot 45.6 from the free throw line?
So I have a slight problem with any metric that ranks Asik as the Bulls’ third-best offensive player.
It does not compute.
Especially when you consider what a devastating defensive force Asik is. If he were really that crucial to the Bulls’ offense as well as the defense…wouldn’t his PER be higher than 13.4? That’s below the league average.
Anyway, it’s more interesting information to toss on the pile. Just not sure I can agree with the notion of Asik-as-more-important-than-Rose-on-offense.
As anticipation grows for the 2012-13 season — Bulls training camp will open on Monday, October 1 by the way — Adidas has released the latest video chronicling Derrick Rose’s rehab efforts. This episode is titled FOCUS.
In case you’re too busy filling out TPS reports to watch the video, here are the words:
“I started playing basketball ever since probably, what? Four, three or four and ever since then I just like, always loved the game.
“When I was growing up my biggest thing was just getting to the league. I wasn’t thinking about shoe deals, or a gym shoe, or anything. I really saw what hard work can do for someone’s life.
“My biggest fight right now, I would have to say, is just stayin’ focused. Being patient because I’m impatient. If you think about it I never stop this is the only time in my life where I actually stopped playing basketball. Even in high school I was always going. Then thinking I was going to be able to play in the Olympics this year, it just killed my dreams.
“This injury gives me time to appreciate the people that’s around me. Be grateful for what I have. Just live life.
“I’m 23 but I’ve been in the league since I was 19 so just doing what you suppose to do, that’s all you have to do.
“Hard work pays off and I seen it actually pay off the year that I won MVP. I worked extremely hard so I know that all this stuff is going to pay off one day.
“It’s challenging, I’m just trying not to stop.”
Bulls head athletic trainer Fred Tedeschi:
“Derrick’s progress to date, and it’s excellent progress, has been driven by his focus on trying to get back. You know, it’s not so much necessarily his body chemistry that’s driving what’s going on I think it’s his mind and his, his, passion to get better.”
Said Rose: “My recovery has been good, where (I’m) rehabbing every day, five times out of the week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I do lower and upper body and bike workout. I’m starting to shoot now, I started to jump a little while ago, like a couple of days ago, where I’m still improving every week. My leg does get sore sometimes, but I’m able to fight through it, but my trainers and the people that have been working on me have been making sure that I’ve been doing a great job … I’ve been good.”
Rose has come a long way since the May 12 surgery to repair the ACL he tore in Game 1 of the Bulls’ first round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers. There’s a mass consensus (as Miami’s Dwyane Wade would agree) that the Bulls aren’t going to compete without a title until Rose is back and at the top of his game, so updates about his rehab are big news around the Windy City.
Rose continued: ”(I didn’t) work on my core as much as I do now. Sit-ups, so many exercises that I do just to get my core together. That’s a huge part of getting back … basketball players don’t usually have to work on our core like that, because we work on our hips and weights. I’ve been working with my trainers, and they’re making sure I’m on top of that, and that my upper body is strong.”
Of course, life isn’t all rehabbing and getting stronger for Rose right now. As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times (and many other sources), Rose became choked up and cried yesterday during a promotional event for his new Adidas shoe. The tears flowed after video of Rose’s ACL injury was shown.
After he recovered, Rose said: “It’s truly a blessing, man. With all this stuff that’s going on in this city. A kid from Englewood has something positive going on. That makes me feel so good. The shoe is great. All this is great. I can’t explain this. I can’t. I went through so much. To have, like, true fans, that means a lot to me. And I know it means a lot to my family. Because we aren’t supposed to be here at all. But God made the way. This is truly unreal. I’m just happy to have true fans out there.”
I’ve mentioned this before recently, but this injury seems to have made Rose much more aware of his own mortality, certainly his mortality as a basketball player. He’s showing more emotion and willingness to put himself in the spotlight than ever before. When he eventually does return to playing, it will be interesting to see how coming back from adversity affects his game.
Russell is the league’s grand old lion…one of the greatest players and certainly the greatest winner in NBA history. The numbers speak for themselves: 11 championships in 13 seasons, including eight and a row at one point, and the last two won back-to-back as a player coach.
Russell has forgotten more about winning than most of us will ever know.
In the interview, Russell was asked a couple questions that resulted in him bringing up a couple Bulls players.
Regarding which of today’s players have the best basketball IQ, Russell said:
I would never say who is the smartest but there are some players who stand out. Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. Those guys all know what they’re doing. They go out to do things, not to see what’s going on.
When asked about which of today’s players have the most pride, Russell eventually said:
Players today such as Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, LeBron, these guys are first and foremost team guys. A player who doesn’t get much attention and is one of my favorites to watch is Joakim Noah. The Bulls don’t utilize some of his skills. Not only is he a good rebounder but he’s an excellent passer. A good passer is more important to a team than a good shooter on offense. These guys are among my favorites to watch. I like to see if they can take a guy’s skills and have them contribute to winning.
These comments sync up well with what a lot of Bulls fans already felt about Rose and Noah. And I’ve thought for a while that the Bulls should take better advantage of Noah’s ball distribution skills. I’d like to see Joakim with the ball in the high post with lots of cuts and curls going on around him. He really is a fantastic passer who usually makes the right decision.
Scottie Pippen on Rose’s comeback (via Comcast SportsNet Chicago):
“He’s going to be a bigger, better, stronger player. I think it’s great to have something like this happen if it’s going to happen at a young age (23). He’s going to heal fast, and he’s going to push himself now to be better than he probably would have ever been.”
This sort of keeps with Dr. Brian Cole’s assessment that Rose can potentially get back to 125% of where he was before. I have no doubt Rose will push himself. But the truth is: Nobody really knows how for sure well Rose will recover from his ACL tear. Not doctors. Not Pippen. Not Rose himself. Only time will tell.
And so Bulls fans watch. And wait. And wait some more.
“You just feel bad for [Rose]. We all deal with injuries and every time you deal with an injury, you hope it’s not the big one. You hope it won’t end your season. So to see a guy like D-Rose, who was battling injuries all year, minor injuries, and then it took its toll. And it was sad to see.
“We didn’t want to see it and we want to play the Bulls. We want to play the best teams. We want him and his family to be fine, so to hear he was in high spirits and doing well, outside looking in, as a fan of the game, I’m excited for him.”
Wade — who recently admitted his free agent visit to Chicago “messed me up” — also told ESPNChicago that Rose might eventually change his mind over his refusal to recruit other great players to join him on the Bulls:
“Derrick’s still young (23). When I came into the league (in 2003), when all of us came into the league, you never can tell me that this day would come where I play with guys like LeBron (James) and Chris (Bosh) because I wanted to be the young gun. I wanted to be the one who leads my team to a championship, I had that mentality.
“And then you get to a point where you understand, even with me winning a championship in my third year, it took Shaquille O’Neal, it took Gary Payton, Antoine Walker, James Posey, all these guys to make it possible. This league is very good and you’re not going to win it alone. So when you’ve had a very good team like Derrick has had, you don’t need to recruit, but when you’ve hit rough stages and injuries hit and all these things, and you have a year like we had where we won 15 games (in 2007-08), and now we’ve got to rebuild back, it becomes a little different. Hopefully, he doesn’t have to experience that, but things change.”
The whole “recruitment” thing hasn’t hurt the Heat or the Lakers. As much as I love Derrick’s humility, I wouldn’t mind him working a little more to bring some more star power to the Windy City. Management could probably use the help.
One last bonus quote from Wade, this time on the LeBron versus M.J. debate-that-shouldn’t-be-a-debate-yet, from the Chicago Sun-Times:
“Michael is the greatest player I’ve ever seen play. I think LeBron is in that conversation of one day becoming. It’s all speculation, in a sense. He has a long way to go. He knows that. He has one championship. Michael has six! There’s a lot to say about that. LeBron is a dominant player. .?.?.But Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time.”
Agreed. And that’s exactly where this “debate” should remain. For now.
Derrick Rose and Adidas are publishing a six-part video series on YouTube called #thereturn. In essence, it’s the story of Rose’s rehab…his mental and physical battle to return from the ACL tear that ended his season and the Bulls’ hopes of contending for a title. And not simply to return. To return better and stronger than ever.
What makes this video fascinating is the narration by Rose.
As anybody who follows D-Rose already knows, the kid is humble to a fault and tends to shy away from the public eye. He doesn’t talk trash, rarely says boo to official, and refuses to dance at the All-Star Game. Zach Christman of NBC Chicago once described Rose as “boring as hell” and said “listening to the man talk is like taking Ambien.”
Now he’s talking. Oh boy is he talking.
Rose recently revealed that finding out about his torn ACL was “the closest thing to death” he’s ever experienced. In “Belief,” he describes his post-injury angst thusly: “think of your most downest day and times it by 100…that ain’t enough to describe how I felt at that time.”
I have to admit that statement made me fidget a little. The world can be a pretty dark place. Every day, someone finds out they have terminal cancer or loses a loved one. Both of those situations could be considered 100 times worse than a torn ACL, not vice versa.
But Rose’s somewhat skewed perspective aside, what’s telling here is that Rose was obviously moved by this injury in a way that nothing else has ever moved him. For perhaps the first time ever, he had to face down his own mortality. That’s never an easy thing to do. It makes me wonder how the injury will affect his outlook going forward. Will Rose now hear that ticking clock in the back of his brain? Every professional athlete is on borrowed time. It’s a painful lesson that Rose has learned younger than most.
The big upside of this video is it reinforces what Rose said in an earlier interview, that he is working on core strength and flexibility in ways that he never did before, and Dr. Brian Cole states that his belief is that Rose can not only regain his athleticism but potentially get to “125%” of where he was.
During a recent interview on AM-740′s “The Game” in Orlando, Van Gundy had the following to say:
“I think the interesting one coming up in the future is going to be Derrick Rose. I think Derrick Rose is a great, great representative of our league, and he’s a great player. And he’s got good players around him, very good players around him, but if (the Bulls) can’t get another star there for him is he eventually going to look around and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got to work this out on my own and I’ve got to find somehow to get somewhere else so that I will have a chance to play with another star.’
“The league has changed. It used to be the stars wanted to sort of have their own team, they certainly wanted good players around them, but now everything’s changed. I think it started with the Celtics, bringing (Kevin) Garnett, (Paul) Pierce and (Ray) Allen together and everybody saw that and decided, ‘Look, this is the only way we’re going to win.’
“I think sometimes the players get sort of chastised for that, but if you’re a LeBron James and you’re looking at (the situation) you might want to win it in Cleveland, you might want to lead your own franchise, same with Dwight Howard, but you’re looking around.
“Chris Paul I think went through the same thing. You’re looking around and you see Boston and you’re saying, ‘I’m not going to be able to do this alone. I got to find a way, somehow, where I can get with a couple of other true stars. Not just good players, but true stars.’
“And so then LeBron goes to Miami and Chris Paul takes off and goes to the Clippers, which isn’t going to be enough for him, I don’t think. And so if you’re Dwight, you’re looking around and saying, ‘I got to get somewhere where there’s more people somehow.’ Either they’ve got to come here, which if you don’t have a way to do that then you’ve got to go somewhere else.”
They are solid points. But even though Rose has often expressed an ardent “I’m a Bull for life” attitude, he’s still young, and hasn’t had to deal with major hardship and heartbreak on the court.
Make that hadn’t had to.
Rose recently revealed that tearing his ACL was “the closest thing to death, the closest to death I’ve got to right there.”
The former MVP also received a harsh reminder this off-season that basketball is a business when Bulls management dismantled the valued Bench Mob (C.J. Watson, John Lucas III, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer) and replaced them with Kirk Hinrich and several other low-cost alternatives (Marco Bellineli, Nate Robinson, Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic).
And look for the Bulls to find some way to get rid of Rip Hamilton during the season to avoid the luxury tax.
If the front office doesn’t acquire another star or stars to play alongside Rose, will he — like LeBron, Nash, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, et al. — demand a trade or start planning a free agent escape?
Maybe. Maybe not.
But it sure provides some incentive for the Bulls to make some major personnel moves in the coming seasons.
To me, this was one of the most telling quotes from the whole video:
“I’m actually learning how to work parts of my body that I’ve never used before. Naturally, I’m just gifted. My balance wasn’t that good. I remember coming in my rookie year and the trainers and everybody on staff were like, ‘How do you play the way you play and you can’t even balance on one foot for that long? How do you move that way?’ Or not being flexible with the way that I play. One of the tightest guys muscle-wise, just super-tight; they never saw that and me playing the way that I play, it’s just weird. But it’s the beginning and I’m not looking back.”
If Rose is now correcting his balance and flexibility issues — and there’s every indication that he is — it’s possible that this injury could have a long-term benefit of making his body stronger and sounder.
Here they are from a recent Comcast SportsNet Chicago interview (via ESPNChicago):
“I remember (the injury). I remember everything. I remember jumping in the air and coming back down, and just that popping sound. I felt it actually tear when I laid all the way out and it just let go.
“I didn’t have that that much pain after that. In the beginning I did, but I didn’t want to yell or anything. When that happened, all I could think about was people just talking. You could hear the whole arena, people just whispering all around — one of the things, like ‘Not again. Come on, man. First game back. We had the win’ — and I was just hoping [it was] nothing serious.
“Then we got to the hospital, got in the MRI machine, the whole time praying. Dr. Cole, the Bulls’ doctor, came up to me and told me it was torn. I couldn’t believe it. That’s the closest thing to death, the closest to death I’ve got to right there, where it just seemed like the wind and everything was taken out [of me].
“[I'm just] taking my time. I’m definitely two or three weeks ahead of where I’m supposed to be, but that still (doesn’t) help the part healing-wise. I’ve still got to take that time off for my leg to heal.
“Of course, strength-wise it’s getting better every day, but scar tissue still has to heal, getting used to me just laying on my knees. Knee’s still numb in some areas. Hopefully I’ll get over that, but the doctor says I’ll forget about it when the season goes on, so I should be all right.
“I’m good, man. I definitely haven’t been out like that, but I’m doing fine, just trying to stay positive, keep everything normal. The injury could have been way worse. You’ve got some people that probably feel worse than I am, but I know I’m going to be all right. I believe in God, my spirits are up and I believe in myself, and I know I’m going to be back even stronger.”
It’s great to hear that Derrick is two or three weeks ahead of schedule.