Guest Post: Why doesn’t Derrick Rose get to the line more?

In a recent thread, zillaa made the following comment:

“As far as getting to the line more, anybody else kind of in awe of Rose’s ability to AVOID contact in the lane? A friend that was a Philly fan a few years back noticed tonight that Rose seems to resemble Iverson only without the falling to the floor part. Rose doesn’t seem to try to avoid contact, but when you get in the lane that often, how do you NOT get fouled?”

This is an interesting question that has come up on occasion since Rose entered the NBA, and it is worth attempting to answer.

Derrick Rose is a unique offensive player. His combination of quickness, strength, body control and creativity make him arguably the most dynamic and effective finisher around the basket of any guard in the history of the game. (If anyone can think of his equal, I’m all ears.)

When (not if) he beats his man, the question boils down to how well the defense helps. If there is only one defender present, Rose typically glides around, or elevates over him en route to two points. If more than one defender steps in, he often exercises the option of pulling up for one of his short, accurate floaters. But not always.

There are instances in which Rose will cradle the ball to his side as securely as any NFL running back might, drive into – and sometimes through – heavy traffic in the lane, and attempt to get to the rim. Those are, in particular, the plays that have left many fans scratching their heads in wonder at the relatively low number of free-throws awarded to Rose during his career to date.

So how does he not get fouled more often? To my mind, there are several contributing factors which combine to reveal the answer.

First, and most importantly, his sheer strength allows him to absorb many hits which would send virtually all other point guards sprawling to the floor. This is a double-edged sword, as while it can undoubtedly contribute to a referee’s (possibly incorrect) perception that no foul was committed, it also allows Rose to get off decent shots which would otherwise be nearly impossible to make.

Rose’s remarkable body control allows him to avoid (serious) contact more effectively than most players who aggressively drive to the basket. This, too, reduces the instances of fouls, as last-line defenders must often rely on attempts to block his shot.

While I believe that this dynamic is now changing to a degree, Rose has also suffered from the combination of being a young player who wasn’t receiving the benefit of the doubt from refs, coupled with him being relatively quiet, rather than vocal, when calls were missed.

Interestingly, his natural tendency to be quiet and respectful may well benefit him greatly in the long run. Consider what Moses Malone, who played in 1,212 games without fouling out (yes, you read correctly), had to say about referees when interviewed by Slam Online:

“They got to call the game and you have to respect them. They make some bad calls, but never embarrass the referee. They got to do the work so once they make a call, let it be.”

Finally, I’d argue that the importance of Rose getting to the line more frequently is broadly overstated. I say that because on balance, his abilities outlined above produce plenty of baskets that, in aggregate, equal or exceed the points that more foul shots would produce. Having said that, I would like to see him develop and utilize an understanding of when, especially towards the end of tight games, the best and most conservative option would be to get to the line.

About the Author:
Tony C. grew up in Evanston, and cut his teeth on the exciting, early ’70’s Walker-Love-Sloan-Van Lier Bulls. As a pick-up player, he admits to having stuck too long with low-top shoes (Puma Baskets, for the detail oriented), but did belatedly make the switch when the sprained ankles became tedious. Tony’s professional life revolves mainly around buying, selling and managing Thoroughbred racehorses. While he now resides outside of Chicago, he remains an interested, enthusiastic, and at times critical Bulls fan.

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11 Responses to Guest Post: Why doesn’t Derrick Rose get to the line more?

    Gorditadog November 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    Tony C –

    I agree with you. Rose doesn’t LOOK like he gets fouled a lot of times, and the refs don’t call it. It will catch up eventually and Rose will start getting the calls. I am glad that Rose is just playing the game and not trying to work the refs. Leave that for Chauncey.

    Chuck November 15, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

    I tend to agree with the author. After watching a lot of Rose this year two things have become apparent.
    1) Rose is so quick and the spacing is so much better that he can beat his man and get to the rim before a help defender can get close to being in position. In this case the help just lets him go because the play is over before they can react.
    2) His body contol is so good that he never seems to get hacked in the lane. He is a master of putting his body between the ball and the defender so there is not a lot of slapping and hacking going on. This also makes those shots very difficult to block.

  3. Tom November 15, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    I heard a quote from Rose, in an interview with Bleacher Report, in which he said during the Wizards game the other day he asked the ref why a certain play was not a foul and the ref responded to the effect of that the play happened too quick for him to call anything. I think that for a lot of the plays Rose is too quick and fast for the ref to see a foul. Hopefully eventually they will start to anticipate a foul like they do for Lebron and Wade.

    inkybreath November 15, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    The first thing I think of when this comes up is the two games against Orlando last year, where Rose went to the deck HARD. I remember thinking of Wade and how much abuse he took and the injuries that resulted.

    For me, the calls will come. The more he can get all the way to the hole and avoid contact, the better, regardless of the foul calls. I will take a healthier Rose for four or five years with three less foul shots a game…

    And, let’s not forget they are still watching the video and reworking the coverage on Mr. Rose, so it will get tougher and he will again rise to the occasion and there will be undeniable contact.

    BoppinBob November 15, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

    Eventually the foul calls will come, but I agree with Tony C. that it is incidental to the effectiveness of Rose. Because of his strength, speed and body control the fouls that are not called do not seem to effect the success of his shots, which seems to work against him in getting calls. Rose combines his strength with his speed and body control to look effortless, while LBJ, Kobe, D.Wade and others tend to power through defensive players, Rose finesses his way past defenders making it harder to see a foul because of the unique combinations of skills that Rose brings to the game. Eventually the refs will get used to seeing Rose’s moves and will see the fouls.

    inkybreath November 15, 2010 at 6:07 pm #

    (Rose is a rich man’s Baron Davis)

    BullySixChicago November 15, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    The refs are probably awed by what Rose does when he attacks the basket when you hear the oooooooh and aaaaw from the crowd the refs are probably caught with that whistle stuck on nonblow watching what Roses does rather some one fouling him otherwise there is no excuse

  8. Richard November 16, 2010 at 12:16 am #

    The comments in the end are idiotic…are you saying he wouldn’t score more points if he got more foul calls? Also refs typically swallow the whistle at the end of games.

    Tony C. November 16, 2010 at 3:49 am #

    Richard –

    It’s your idiotic commentator here, hoping to clear things up for you. I am saying that Rose’s ability to get good shots off around the rim due to his extraordinary physical attributes and skills may well be preferable on balance to making more (and harder) contact on drives, missing more shots as a result, and getting more fouls called.

    Call it nuanced idiocy, if you like.

    Chris November 16, 2010 at 5:27 am #

    Tony C. nailed it with his last comment. Converting the field goal (i.e. ~2 pts per shot) is preferable to drawing a foul (~1.6 pts per shot). I have experienced this same “problem” with the 2K franchise. I rarely attempt free throws despite scoring almost all of my points in the paint. Instead I’m shooting 60%+ from the field (again, almost exclusively lay-ups and dunks). The lack of heavy contact (i.e. mid-air collisions, versus hacks) will not only help with Rose’s long-term durability but his ability to finish strong in-game. If refs really do swallow their whistles late-game (depends on the player), then it’s a good thing Rose can create and convert those tough lay-ups. Trying too hard to draw fouls results in bad shots (Kobe, Durant, Wade are all guilty of this). e.g. last year the refs awarded Durant the rip move, this season they haven’t. Hasn’t stopped Durant from attempting to rip the shot through, but it’s almost always a brick (he’s shooting it from an odd angle because of the ripping motion), and his FTA has declined.

    Chuck November 16, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    It seem that the league is moving to an almost entirely perimeter based league. They call everything on the perimiter and you can’t touch the guy, but as soon as smebody is in the paint you can do things to them that would get you arrested on the street. The pundits wonder why there are no more dominant big men any more. Why? Because you get mugged every time you get the ball in teh paint and there is no call. Noah is the victim of a lot of this.

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