Derrick Rose: Defensive sieve?

The Bulls need more plays like this from D-Rose.

The Bulls need more plays like this from D-Rose.

In my scouting report on Derrick Rose, I criticized the kid’s defense. Well, By The Horns reader Tony C. felt that I didn’t criticize it strongly enough…so he left a rather illuminating comment that perhaps explains why Rose struggled so mightily on defense:


I’d say that your analysis is fairly accurate, with one glaring exception: defense. First, it is obvious that he is a tremendous athlete, but so are the vast majority of the players in the NBA. If you view a highlight reel of Tyrus Thomas blocking shots, it would be easy to assume that he is the greatest shot-blocker in history.

While you did qualify the exceptional plays as being atypical, you severely understated just how bad Rose was on defense. He was, frankly, like a friggin’ sieve. When facing other quick guards, he was frequently made to look slow. Devin Harris, in particular, blew by him at will in virtually every Nets game.

In fact, given his tremendous natural abilities, Rose was very disappointing on the defensive end. Can he improve? Absolutely. Will he? Yes. But he has a long, long way to go before becoming an asset on the defensive end of the floor.

Finally, I’ll add an unusual insight into how Rose can be so explosive on offense, and so vulnerable to quick guards on defense. He is used to operating at 3/4 speed on offense, then kicking in the supercharger. That’s part of why he is such a tough cover. On defense, he had a tendency to rely on the same two-speed approach, and was frequently caught flat-footed. Someone in the organization needs to teach him to move his feet more frequently and rapidly on defense.

Interestingly, Jordan showed a similar characteristics on offense, but figured out how to adjust on defense. Rose needs a bit of help.


28 Responses to Derrick Rose: Defensive sieve?

  1. knock knock September 3, 2009 at 6:26 pm #

    Yeah, Rose is a terrible defender. His defense is what gave Rondo that triple double the whole series. Someone needs to teach this kid something, cause he looked like he never played defense in his whole life.

    Max power September 3, 2009 at 7:28 pm #

    I don’t think Derrick Rose is that far away from becoming an explosive defender soon. All he really needs to do is improve on his backwards foot step speed. Plus, he has get teammates that can teach him how to improve on his defense like: Kirk Hinrich, John Salmons, J. Pargp & even L. Hunter can show Rose how to cover their man 1 on 1.

    felipe garcia September 3, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    I agree with Max power, Derrick Rose is not that far away from becoming a good defender this season. All he really needs to do is improve on his footwork speed moving backwards. He is already a solid defender when his opponent is not that faster then him. He only runs into trouble, when he is guarding a quick guard like: Rondo, Harris and others. Overall, I think D. Rose is going to become a much better improve defender this year. Thanks to his teammates and coaches.

    Brad S. September 3, 2009 at 8:41 pm #

    Ok, Ok. You know I love you all, but let’s reel it back in a little bit.

    Yes, DRose could and should learn a trick or two from Hinrich and Salmons. But Lindsey Hunter is NOT a good defender, (he is very active and he is a pretty good ball hawk, but I wouldn’t characterize him as a great defender.) …and Janero Pargo? Really???.

    Matt McHale September 3, 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    Brad S. — Actually, this is what Chris Sheridan had to say when the Bulls signed Lindsey last summer: “Hunter spent the past five seasons with the Detroit Pistons, mostly as a defensive specialist regarded as one of the league’s best at pressuring the ball in the backcourt.”

    He really was a pretty solid defensive player. He really got after it, and D-Rose could probably learn a thing or two from him.

  6. Axel F September 3, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    Hunter is a good defender, wasn’t he supposed to be Isiah Thomas 2.0 when he was coming into the league?

    Max power September 3, 2009 at 9:53 pm #

    Brad S. – The only reason why I think Pargo is also a solid defender was because back then, when he played for New Orleans under CP3 wing, he learned a couple of trick defensive moves from CP3 of how to cover their man 1 on 1 on the defensive end. And if you look back at his stat #’s in the playoffs of 07-08, his defense did improve.

    Max power September 3, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

    he learned a couple of defensive moves to improve his game from CP3 of how to cover his man 1 on 1.*

    andres Lopez September 3, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    People lets not worry to much on D. Rose defense this season. He is going to become a solid defender averaging close to 1.0 or 1.3 steals per game with sum block shots because of his leaping ability this year.

    mike killer September 3, 2009 at 10:13 pm #

    Yah, eventually D. Rose will becoming an explosive defender like D. Wade in a couple of years, but for now he is going to become a much better defender this season like lopez mention averaging close to 1.0-1.3 steals per game with a couple of block shots.

    mike killer September 3, 2009 at 10:36 pm #


    Tony C. September 3, 2009 at 10:39 pm #

    I am fan of Rose, and hope that the optimism expressed on this thread proves to be warranted. He certainly has the apparent work ethic to make serious progress on the defensive end.

    Having said that, he really was, given his physical gifts, a much worse defender than could have been reasonably expected last year. That is why I mentioned the footwork issue in my original post. My concern actually has less to do with Rose’s potential to be a good defender, than with the organization’s ability to develop that potential. I say that in part because he made so little progress during the season last year, and because I have so little confidence in VDN.

    It will be one of the more interesting sub-plots to watch during the upcoming season.

    As a final note, averaging a steal and a half a game and blocking some shots now and then does not define a good defender. Being able to slow down dangerous opposing guards, switch seamlessly (i.e. playing good team defense), and making smart decisions are far more important than flashy statistics.

    mike killer September 4, 2009 at 12:33 am #

    I agree with you also Tony C. but just being a good defender does not make you a great player. Look at Bruce Bowen, Shane Battier, Ben Wallace and other players that are really good at playing defensive only, were they MVP candidates? No! In order to be an MVP candidate you must have a lil bit of both styles in your game which is offense & defense like: D. Wade, Kobe & LeBron James. The bright thing about D. Rose is that he is already a good scorer and eventually will become a great defender like D. Wade and Kobe in the future, if he wants to be the best and wants to win a championship soon. And I don’t think D. Rose is going to average .5 steals along with sum block shot this season. To me that sounds crazy and unreasonable, I think he is going to average about 1.0-1.3 steals per game along with block shots. Remember he has great defensive teammate players that can help him improve on his defense like: Hinrich & Salmons for example.

    andres Lopez September 4, 2009 at 12:59 am #

    I agree with also mike killer, I don’t think D. Rose is going to suck that badly this year on his defense, like Tony C. thinks he is. If anything, D. Rose will become a much better and improve defensive player this season, covering his man 1 on 1 thanks to training staff. Rose already started showing positive signs last season when he made a huge play on the defensive end blocking Rondo jump shot in the playoffs. Remember, even great players like Kobe for example, started out slow on learning how to play defensive and now he is one of the best defender in leaded.

    felipe garcia September 4, 2009 at 1:08 am #

    Yah, Tony C! cut the kid sum slack, he was just a ROOKIE last season and he was learning how to adjust to the NBA level. I would have to agree with you, if he was in lead for 3 years at least and he still does not know how to cover his man 1 on 1. That being said, do not worry to much about D. Rose, he will improve on his defense covering his man 1 on 1 picking up sum steals block shot and making sum stop eventually. If anything we should worry about more Tyrus Thomas and L. Deng he they can play at a higher level with improvements.

    felipe garcia September 4, 2009 at 1:09 am #


    BigWay September 4, 2009 at 7:43 am #

    Rose was just emulating his veteran backcourt running mate Ben Gordon.

    Unfortunately, the Bulls coaches forgot to tell Rose that Gordon had a claus in his contract that specifically stated that he didn’t even have to attempt to play defense.

    I am baffled as to how such a great athlete can suck so bad on defense, it had to be the Gordon like attitude and effort.

    I expect the entire team to step up the defensive intesity and accountability now that the Black Hole(Gordon) is gone.

    twalter September 4, 2009 at 6:22 pm #

    Rose will get there. It is too much to ask for a point to come into the league and master everything at once. He has the athleticism to do it, and has the work ethic. No worries. – latest trade rumors

    boppinbob September 4, 2009 at 6:28 pm #

    The next two seasons will tell us what kind of player the Bulls have in D. Rose. Will he be an Allen Iverson type player or will he be a Scottie Pippin/Michael Jordan type player. How hard will he work at his outside shooting and defense? While he may not be a Rhodes scholar he has plenty of basketball smarts. I believe/hope we are seeing the foundation of a superstar being built. Will he learn from his coaches and teammates or does he think he is a finished product? Time will tell.

    felipe garcia September 5, 2009 at 12:20 am #

    I agree with Boppinbob statement, only time will tell, what kind of player D. Rose is going to be. Hopefully a leader that wants to win and be the best player he can be like kobe, Wade and LeBron .

  21. Darwin Anthony September 5, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    Maybe Joakim Noah can teach the kid something about intensity. That being said, I don’t think this year will be about Rose and his defense but about whither Tyrus Thomas can live up to any ability he is supposed to have and whither Luol Deng can once again be productive. Kirk Hinrich also needs to be productive coming off the bench. Since we no longer have Jordon to drag this team to victory it is going to take a total team effort.

  22. Chris September 5, 2009 at 7:07 pm #

    I think as fans we sometimes overlook things about a favorite teams or their best players. 1st and foremost D. Rose is young, i saw time after time he made adjustments on both ends of the floor clearly he is better on the offensensive of end, the D will improve a few of you guys in here alluded to it the vets like hunter capt kirk and deng will help him out on that. but the thing that troubles me the most was his performance in the clutch when it was all on the line, sometimes looking over anxcious or confused with the ball and impatient, that can’t be taught by the vets, thats what concerned me and only because he has been placed on the savior of this Franchise, im not saying he isn’t clutch, he just didn’t seem comfortable with that moment last year

    DJ September 6, 2009 at 5:56 pm #

    I agree with your comment Chris, I think eventually D. Rose will feel more comfortable taking those shots, when the game is on the line. But, their is no question of a doubt that his defense will improve for sure this year. His teammate and training staff will help him get a better idea of what he needs to do, in order to become a better defender. The Bulls should not worry to much about Derrick Rose. He has all the tools he needs in order to become a great player all around. The Bulls need to draw most of their attention to Deng & Tyrus Thomas performance this season. If they can play at a high level with Rose. If not, the Bulls need to trade them for work horse players like: Rudy Gay & David Lee for example. In order for the Bulls to take the 4th or 5th spot in the playoffs, they need a team effort from everyone.

    Matt September 7, 2009 at 5:01 am #

    I find it funny that Hunter is the guy being looked at as the ideal role model for Rose as a defender when the Bulls have Hinrich who is owed a great deal of credit for shutting down D-Wade (one of the best, if not the best scorers in the NBA) when the Bulls defeated the Heat a few years back in the playoffs. I think that Rose should watch Hinrich on defense and may learn a lot from him now that Gorden is gone.

  25. BullySixChicago September 7, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    lol some of you have no ideas about basketball, you expect a rookie to come right in the NBA and become a great defensive player, many of you probably have never even played a quarter of basketball, letlone have the insight how to improve a player on defensive. You who choose to critize Rose on defense were correct but the idea that he is has no idea is crazy, how about not having ever played against a player which he has not could be the reason that he was poor on defensive? I recall Bron being just as sorry on defensive, and Kobe was he even mention as a defensive player his first year in the league? Those of you that have played basketball know that once you get familiar with the players you play against your defensive will can go on the playgrounds and not having played against a player before and get you booty handed to you but once you play them numerous times your defensive improves, I recall devin harris getting 18 wheeled himself his first year in the league, some one mention MJ, please he is totally different to bring him into this thought is a non issue. Rose will improve on defensive, just a matter of time one of the worst defenders ever was Magic Johnson and he never improved he could guard anyone on this sight and he always guarded he weakest offensive player on each team. Rose lol will improve, but magic never did.

    beegreezy September 7, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

    I think it might be a little early to jump on Rose and his defense.

    Yeah, first year in the league, his D could still have been better. But it was his first year in the league, and last year, I would have taken him over BG to try and pressure up. But I think Rose is going to show a lot of improvement over last year, both offensively and defensively. Cannot wait for the upcoming season.

    mike killer September 7, 2009 at 4:59 pm #

    I totally agree with your comment beegreezy and just like garcia mention this already; ‘cut the kid some slack, he was only a ROOKIE last season learning how to adjust to the NBA level.’ But now, that he has a better understanding of the knowledge and experience from last season. There are no excuses of why he should not improve. By adding pressure to his defender, staying in front of his man and reading plays to make some steals, block shots and stops.

    mike killer September 7, 2009 at 5:01 pm #


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