Derrick Rose: Go-to guy or not?

When a team is losing, everybody comes under intense scrutiny: management (who assembled the talent), the coaching staff (who direct the talent), and the players (who are the talent). It’s just the nature of the beast. Fans need someone to blame for their heartbreak.

Derrick Rose has been pretty lucky so far. After all, Vinny Del Negro has been taking most of the lumps for the Bulls’ recent descent into sub-.500-ness. But people are starting to give Rose the stink eye for not doing a little more to carry his team through this slumpiest of slumps. With great power comes great responsibility — just ask Spiderman — and would-be superstars can’t escape suspicion forever.

It’s no fun being under the microscope.

Said Rose: “Yeah, but it’s hard when everybody’s focusing on you on the court. It’s very hard being in the position where I’m the point guard and I’m supposed to pass the ball and everything. People say they want me to shoot the ball more, but I’m the point guard; I can’t do that. I’ve got to pass the ball to people and get people open. Taking over as a point guard is getting people open and shooting here and there. If I was a 2-guard, it would be something else.”

Tell that to Utah’s Deron Williams, who exploded for 38 points and 13 assists last night. Or New Orleans’ Chris Paul, who has made 20-plus-point, 10-plus-assist games seem routine.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: point guards can carry their team by scoring and dishing. And being a team’s franchise player means everybody is going to be focusing on you pretty much forever.

Look, I’m all for Rose distributing first and looking to score second. I am. Rajon Rondo does that, and it usually turns out pretty well for the Celtics. (Although, to be fair, he is passing to Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.) But, frankly, Rose needs to do more than drive-and-dish to teammates who are “open” for contested two-point jumpers. Obviously, a little spacing would help. Unfortunately, the Bulls don’t have any high-percentage three-point shooters at the moment (they are currently 28th in the league as a team at 29.5 percent). That said, I was watching Friday night’s game against the Warriors with Kevin Arnovitz of ClipperBlog. In that game, we counted one genuinely creative assist by Rose, who drew multiple defenders on a hard drive to the basket and shoveled the ball to Brad Miller for a layup.

Those are the kinds of high percentage shots Rose needs to deliver to his teammates with regularity. Passing the ball to Luol Deng so he can chuck up a 20-footer with a hand in his face does not constitute an efficient offense.

Clearly, some of the blame (maybe even most of the blame) falls on Vinny’s sagging shoulders, considering his offensive “system” often looks like something you’d see run in a pickup league by guys who had never met before. And some of the blame (maybe even a lot of the blame) goes to management, who never has addressed the team’s lack of inside scoring and let their best outside marksman (Ben Gordon) walk. Sure, they brought in a guy (Jannero Pargo) who can hit the three, but he’s never done so at a high percentage (36.1 percent for his career and 30.2 percent this season). And besides, Pargo’s barely playing…for whatever reason. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Vinny.)

Bad system, faulty personnel, no spacing. This means, of course, that Rose gets hounded by opposing defenses and has limited options when passing the ball, and the options he does have usually lead to really difficult shots. It’s a classic Catch-22.

So yes, Rose needs to take over. But can he? In addition to Vinny’s system and his team’s inability to knock down shots, Rose doesn’t seem to have that “give me the ball and get the hell out of my way” mentality. He has the talent and the physical skills. Does he have the necessary inner hombre?

It’s hard to tell. I’ve watched every game Rose has played as a pro. I’ve gone over his game logs. He’s had a handful of great games, several very good games, and a lot of games that were just good. But he has yet to play an extended stretch of dominant basketball. You know, the kind where nobody can stop him and he takes his teammates to another level.

Maybe Vinny is holding him back. Maybe his teammates are. Maybe it’s a combination of the two. But if Rose is the team’s future — and management insists that he is — then his transformation into a go-to guy is the team’s top priority. Even over winning.

I just don’t know how that’s going to happen. Or, considering the circumstances, whether it can.

16 Responses to Derrick Rose: Go-to guy or not?

    felipe garcia December 15, 2009 at 4:17 pm #

    I think Derrick Rose does has that star level to become into an explosive point guard player like; Chris Paul, D. Williams and Steve Nash. All he really needs in order to do that is a good coach with league experience like Byron Scott that coach Chris Paul and turn him into an explosive point guard. If you think about D. Williams also has a great coach that is in the Hall Fame Jerry West that push him to the next level and Steve Nash has had to great coaches to push him to his next level; Don Nelson and Mike D’Antoni.

    Vic De Zen December 15, 2009 at 6:43 pm #

    A whole lot of uncertainty here. I share it, kinda… Still think he has a real chance to be something special, but Vinny has to go.

  3. Anonymous December 15, 2009 at 6:47 pm #

    Derrick Rose i luv u so much i am your biggest fan i hope i can get to meet u 1 day your biggest fan Delilah Jenkins

    Matt December 15, 2009 at 7:30 pm #

    Amen to VDN needing to go. One thing that would help DR1 become a better player is not relying so much on his floater. Yes that is a good shot and he is fairly capable at hitting it, but when he takes that shot he is not putting pressure on the defense. He doesn’t get to the line at all, and that needs to change ASAP. Instead of avoiding contact he needs to seek it out and he hasn’t learned to do that. Also I think a great move for him after he attempts a few floaters would be a head fake and hesitation dribble to fake the floater and then blow by the big man for a layup or dunk. I have seen him do it once and that is a great counter to the floater.

    It’s almost like someone needs to go up to him and shake him and tell him you are Derrick Rose! You are the strongest/quickest/most explosive guard in the league there is nothing you can’t do out there. Go out and do it! Go Bulls and here’s do DR1 having a tripble double tonight.

    Blake December 15, 2009 at 7:33 pm #

    Want to know why the Bulls have lost 60% of their games over the last decade? Want to know why we refuse to even come close to being in the top 20 payrolls in the NBA every season even though we’ve been #1 in operating income (of NBA teams) 4 out of the past 6 years?

    Read this:

    Open your eyes to our franchise’s owner’s control of the media. No one else thinks it’s weird that our media jumps all over the Bears when they lose a few games, yet the Bulls have gotten a pass for more than a decade? Read that article, and understand…

  6. SL December 15, 2009 at 8:00 pm #

    First of all, i WOULD tell it to Deron Williams, but his 38 point and 13 assist game came with a big fat L. And Chris Paul’s latest 20 point 10 assist game? Yeah, a loss. So a poor choice in comparison there.

    But, as you brought up, the problem is spacing. Salmons has been horrible, to say the least. Shooting 4.5 threes at a 32% clip and overall 38.5% isn’t going to do much for spacing on the drive and kicks.

    Also agree with the system issue, Deron and the Jazz obviously run a heavy pick and roll offense. Pick and roll with Boozer. Pick and pop with Okur. Two great options for Deron to pick up assists right?

    Counter that with this Bulls team — Brad Miller is shooting 42% on the year and only 38% on jump shots. Joakim has been great on the boards, but his offensive repertoire just doesn’t work for the roll portion. 82 games has his “close shot” efg% at 46.7% in comparison to Boozer’s 63.9%.

    I think it’s just too hard to pass judgement on Rose in the team’s current state. Blame VDN for a poor job in placing a successful system with the current personnel, and blame management for a mismatched roster for Rose’s talents. Rose gets a pass. For now.

    andres Lopez December 15, 2009 at 8:08 pm #

    I totally agree with you guys, D. Rose does need a new experience coach like Byron Scott, to help him reach the next level into becoming an All Star player like CP3. The only reason why coach V.D. had an ok season last year was because of BG since he was playing for a bigger contract with Chicago and he took off a lot of pressure on D. Rose and John Salmons to score more points, since BG was the main go to guy. Now since he is gone, their is more pressure added on D. Rose and John Salmons, since everybody know what they are capable of doing. The Bulls need to get an experience coach like Byron Scott and get another go to guy scorer like AL in a trade soon! If this deal happens soon, trust me the Bulls will be back in the playoffs for sure.

  8. Burke December 16, 2009 at 1:00 am #

    I’m not here to defend Del Negro but I think it’s a little much for some people commenting to blame Rose’s woes all on the coach. Players can become great without having some superstar head coach. That is why they say “players play and coaches coach.” Sure, it is up to Vinny to put all of his players in a position to succeed and the Bulls lack of direction on offense can partly be credited to the system.

    Really good players, however, have the ability to have really good games no matter what system they are in. I would feel a little bit better about Derrick and the Bull’s future if we could see some flashes of brilliance. He sometimes seems to take over but its always with contested jump shots and his much criticized ugly floater-push shot instead of creating easy shots for his team or using practiced moves to get a good look.

    The other thing is that he must lead the league in really spectacular looking missed layups. It is a travesty for someone as physically talented as Rose to leave so many points at the rim.

    Bert December 16, 2009 at 8:46 am #

    I concur with the spectacular player comments to a point. While I completely agree that DR needs to attack more, without spacing thats almost impossible. I think DR realizes that the Deng 20 footer is a better option then attempting a contested layup with 3 defenders surrounding him (you wouldn’t want him hitting the floor as much as Wade does). That being said I feel like Del Negro isn’t putting his players in a position to succeed offensively, which is truely sad. Not to say that its all on Del Negro’s shoulders, but attacking lanes can be created via a functioning offense with seems to be non existent. Not only is there a lack of fluidity but also there seems to be a lack of off the ball movement that facilitates DR from getting the assists that a Deron Williams or even a Steve Nash would be handing out.

    andres Lopez December 16, 2009 at 10:02 pm #

    IdK about that Burke, Sometime it takes a lil bit of both in winning a championship: having a good coach and a star players. For example: look at Houston they have no star players except T. Mac and they are playing way better without him. You want to know the reason why they are playing well? it is because of Rick Adelman their head coach. When the Lakers won their championship who was their coach VD? lol no Phil Jackson of course. I just made my point. Same thing goes for the Celtics and San Antonio Spurs.

    andres Lopez December 16, 2009 at 10:04 pm #

    you have to have a lil bit of both. A Star player and a good Coach to win a championship title.

  12. Burke December 17, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    I agree with you Andres, I think I should have been more clear in my comment. It definitely takes both to win a championship.

    My point was that even with a bad coach, a great player can still have great performances; not enough to win a championship or even win a ton of games, but at least enough to show the special talents of that player. I want to see more from Rose.

    GERRY December 17, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    I think Rose is at his best when he pushes the ball in transition, getting penetration before the defense has any time to set up. In those situations, player spacing is usually not an issue, and the drive-and-kick becomes more effective if the defense is still scrambling. These situations give Deng a better chance at not having a defender in his face when he takes 20 footers, and I think Noah’s offense is much better when he’s running the court and getting a dump off pass for an easy dunk/layup. But most of all, Rose has a better chance of getting that easy layup or floater in the lane when he pushes in transition. I can’t think of too many people faster than he is with the ball right now, and a faster paced running offense just looks better compared to their half court sets which…yeah…

    Uninspired? Predictable? Lame?

    I mean c’mon! Give Deng or Salmons some Reggie Miller-like screen sets to get them 2 or 3 more open looks a game, especially Deng who I actually trust to take a 20 footer. Create some plays involving Miller and Noah where they can catch a sleepy defense with a backdoor lob every once in a while. And I don’t know…maybe some more isos for Rose or 2-man games with either Miller or Noah and just let the guy create something. Anything. 16 and 6 are nice numbers, but his talent and skill should merit more than that.

    gnh86 December 17, 2009 at 6:07 pm #

    Keep in mind that Deron Williams and Chris Paul weren’t THAT good in their second years. Paul shot 43%. The only thing they were better at than Rose was passing.


  1. Derrick Rose explodes: Bulls 121, Wizards 119 » By The Horns - January 16, 2010

    […] Oh, wait. I was one of those knuckleheads. […]

  2. Points in the Paint | - January 24, 2012

    […] Matt McHale on whether Derrick Rose can become Chicago’s go-to guy:  “So yes, Rose needs to take over. But can he? In addition to Vinny’s system and his team’s inability to knock down shots, Rose doesn’t seem to have that “me the ball and get the hell out of my way” mentality. He has the talent and the physical skills. Does he have the necessary inner hombre? It’s hard to tell. I’ve watched every game Rose has played as a pro. I’ve gone over his game logs. He’s had a handful of great games, several very good games, and a lot of games that were just good. But he has yet to play an extended stretch of dominant basketball. You know, the kind where nobody can stop him and he takes his teammates to another level.” […]

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