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.