With a player like Derrick Rose it’s reasonable to expect greatness out of the gate; even after taking a year off it’s human nature to expect that an athlete like him could return to peak form just as easily as he left it. We all respected his decision to protect his long term health in favor of the Bulls’ short term success because we all assumed that his return, while taking a bit to adjust, would be ferocious. His preseason dominance seemed to be a sign that Chicago’s prodigal son had returned to form but his regular season struggles are only just a small part of an even bigger problem with the Bulls offense.
Rose obviously isn’t himself; he’s hesitant, avoiding contact and just quite frankly is not the Derrick Rose we all know and love. Among all players with a usage percentage over 25, Derrick Rose has the 2nd worse true shooting percentage in the league — only Kemba Walker has been more inefficient. His free throw rate is also the worst it’s been since his rookie year and according to the NBA’s new player tracking site he’s only shooting 41% on drives. Rose has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt and will continue to receive it from Bulls fans but its something that has to be noted.
Now this could all be a manifestation of rust which would be very reasonable but it’s still concerning. It’s only been 6 games and Derrick Rose’s PER won’t be 6.6 all season, he’ll start getting to the line and looking somewhat like the Derrick Rose of old but at what point do we start worrying about the team’s play? For a team that was proclaimed to not only an equal to last year’s central division champs but maybe even better than the Pacers, the Bulls have been quite underwhelming.
The undefeated Pacers have shown virtually no weaknesses to this point are starting to distinguish themselves from the rest of the division. Tonight, whether or not Derrick suits up, will be a good barometer to measure what needs to be changed in the Bulls approach. As a team the Bulls are scoring a paltry 97 points per 100 possessions, a mark which has is the 7th worst in the league so the weight and responsibility of improvement is not solely on Rose.
Jimmy Butler, who fans thought would be great compliment to Derrick Rose, hasn’t managed to reclaim his outstanding efficiency. The two man combo of Rose/Butler has been less than stellar and only managed a meager +0.7 net rating this season. So they haven’t been bad together but they definitely have not lived up to the expectations.
Luol Deng can also be held accountable for some of the struggles. Shooting just about 13%(yes- you read that correctly) from deep, Deng deserves some of the blame that is being tossed around for this team’s less than mediocre offense. He’s shooting 10% on catch-and-shoot 3pt shots (again- you read that correctly). There’s definitely some room for improvement in Deng’s game this season.
I say all of this with the hope and expectations that things will even out in the long run. The Bulls are still 4-3 and there’s still many games to be played but some trends need to be ironed out before they lose sight of their lofty aspirations.