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%
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%
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.
Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro sort of addressed this after the Rockets game: “He’s been working on [3-pointers] for a while. I don’t want him to fall in love with the 3 just yet. … He puts the time in, and I know how hard he works on it, but Derrick’s going to go through the evolution of when’s a good 3, when’s a bad 3. How am I shooting it? Should I attack? Who’s hot? Who’s not?”
According to 82games.com, 68 percent of Derrick’s field goal attempts this season are jump shots. His Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) on jumpers is 46.0 percent. Only 29 percent of his jumpers are assisted, which means he’s creating most of these shots himself.
Last season, 60 percent of Rose’s FGAs were jumpers, and his eFG% was only 41.9 percent. So you can see that both his accuracy and his willingness to shoot from the outside have increased.
As a result of his improved jump shooting, Rose takes fewer “close” shots at or around the rim. Last season, 38 percent of his FGAs were in close. This year, that number has dropped to 30 percent. His frequency of inside shots has also dropped, from 40 percent to 32 percent.
So…is Rose becoming to reliant on jump shots? Before I attempt to answer that question, let’s look at some more numbers. Here are Rose’s composite shooting stats from his rookie season (courtesy of Basketball-Reference):
Now here are his composite stats from this season:
As you can see, despite a significant increase in the amount of jump shots attempted combined with a decrease in attempts at the rim, Derrick’s overall shooting has actually improved. Unfortunately, his free throw shooting has gotten worse, dropping to 76.3 percent this season from 78.8 percent in his rookie year. But that’s another story entirely.
Because Rose is hyper athletic and very strong for a point guard, some fans (and I sometimes fall into this category) think every shot should be a layup or dunk. But a varied offensive repertoire is good for Rose and it’s good for the Bulls too. Sure, over one-fourth of Derrick’s three-point attempts on the season happened in the last two games, but I chalk that up to increased confidence in that shot and a desire to work on that aspect of his game.
After all, NBA games are a working laboratory in which players experiment with their abilities. Early in the season, Rose was working on his one-handed floaters, and he had several games in which — and this was just my opinion, mind you — he took way too many of them. I was afraid that trend would continue, but it didn’t. He was simply working on that shot. Now it’s another weapon he has at his disposal.
The thing is, if you watch him play, Rose doesn’t really take bad shots. Some players — Kobe Bryant and LeBron James spring to mind — are so good that they tend to force a lot of contested jump shots while leaning, falling, or fading away. When Rose takes a jump shot, he almost always squares up, and he rarely forces something against intense defensive pressure. These are all good signs.
Rose has shown pretty good decision-making when taking jumpers. And he works hard on them. I’ve had the opportunity to watch him practice his shooting, and Derrick is like a machine: Focused, locked in, efficient. The increased shooting is part of his development as a player, and it’s necessary. During his rookie campaign, too many defenders sagged off him or slipped under screens. If they do that now, Rose will burn them. If he develops into a consistent three-point threat, who will be able to guard him?
As Del Negro put it: “[The 3-pointer] opens up a lot more penetration lanes for him. When they have to guard him out at the line it gives him more room instead of them sagging off and help clogging up the lane. Now, if he can spread the defense doing that, I think as his career goes on he’ll be able to do that. He’ll just have to pick his spots. Keep working on it like he does, gain confidence in it. Once teams see him start knocking some down they’ll get up on him and it will open up his game a little more.”
One last random thing to note. According to 82games.com (again), Rose ranks 18th in the NBA in clutch scoring by producing 34.5 points per 48 minutes of clutch time. That’s 11 spots above Dwyane Wade (29.0 pp48moct). Just throwing that out there.