Scouting Report: Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose

Name: Derrick Rose
Position: PG
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 190
Birth Date: October 4, 1988 (20 years old)
Birth Place: Chicago, IL
Number: 1
Nicknames: D-Rose, Pooh, South Side Sorcerer, Windy City Warlock
College: Memphis
Drafted: 2008, 1st round, 1st overall by Chicago
Experience: 1 season
Previous teams: None
Contract: $5.1 million in 2009-10
Expect: A blossoming All-Star
Don’t expect: Any letup

On offense:
By all indications, Rose is an All-Star in the making. As a rookie, he led the Bulls in Assists Per Game (6.3) and Minutes Played (3000), and he was second on the team in Field Goals Made (574), third in Points Per Game (16.8), third in Free Throws Attempted (250), and fourth in Field Goal Percentage (.475). League-wide, Rose ranked 12th in Assists (512), 13th in Minutes Played, 16th in Assists Per Game and 17th in Field Goals Made. In terms of advanced stats, his notable team ranks were first in Assist Percentage (28.8), second in Usage Rate (22.6), third in Win Shares (5.0) and sixth in Player Efficiency Rating (16.0).

But those are just numbers. Let’s talk about his game. For starters, Rose can cut through opposing defenses like a Ginsu knife, slicing and dicing his way into the paint almost at will. He’s a nightmare to cover one-on-one or in the open court, and his defenders often choose to play off him to force a jumper (more on that below). But even with a few feet of separation, Rose can still blow by his man in a variety of ways (crossover, stutter step, hesitation dribble, etc.). Once Rose gets to the rim, he can finish from almost any angle. He can throw it down, lay it up, or toss in a floater. Furthermore, Rose has the upper body strength and physical control necessary to absorb contact and convert in traffic. And while these skills are amazing in half court sets, they are flat-out unbelievable on the break. When Rose hits the accelerator, his opponents might as well just step out of the way or smile for the poster.

As I mentioned above, defenders would much rather let Rose shoot than drive. Last season, 60 percent of his field goal attempts were jumpers. His Effective Field Goal Percentage near the hoop was .577 but only .419 when shooting from distance. Clearly, his outside marksmanship wasn’t what it could be, especially from three-point range, where he converted only 16 of 72 attempts (22 percent). However, his stroke — not to mention his confidence in it — improved over the course of his rookie year. In fact, according to the Hotspots page, Rose went 43-for-81 (53 percent) from midrange over the last 10 games of the regular season. And he’s been working hard on his shot, taking 500 (or more) jumpers a day, six days a week. If Rose can drill ’em from the outside and extend his range beyond the arc, he will become a nearly unstoppable scoring force.

However, let’s not forget that, first and foremost, Rose is a point guard. He’s done a serviceable job in that capacity. Rose runs the offense that Vinny Del Negro has designed: he passes to the open man, feeds teammates who have a mismatch, and executes a lot of drive and kick-outs. During the 2008-09 campaign, he sometimes stalled the offense by over-dribbling or forcing a pass, but those are pretty common rookie mistakes. (Although there are plenty of veterans who do the same thing.) Generally speaking, he’s reasonably efficient (if somewhat conservative) as a playmaker. According to, he dished out 512 assists last season while committing only 106 “bad pass” turnovers. That comes out to 4.8 assists per passing turnover. Overall, Rose lost the ball 202 times as a rookie, which means he averaged about 2.5 assists per turnover. That’s a pretty good ratio.

What Rose did not display in his first NBA season was a lot of creativity. Rose isn’t particularly good at creating offense on the fly (like, say, Steve Nash) or thinking one step ahead of the defense (like a Chris Paul or Jason Kidd). He runs plays. He hits the open man. He doesn’t throw many careless passes. Those are good things. But to become a truly great point guard, Rose must see the court, anticipate player movement, and see openings before they appear and the defense can adjust to them. Moreover, he must createthese openings with his ball handling and savvy. That’s the sign of an elite playmaker.

Last April, David Thorpe said Rose needs to study Chauncey Billups: “A dynamic and unselfish talent, Rose must become more of a thinker on the floor. Right now, he often just reacts to what he’s confronted with. Billups, on the other hand, is like a computer, rapidly figuring out the odds of each decision he faces and the consequences of each action. As opposed to college guys who pass only to open players, guys such as Billups find ways to get their better players open, then get them the ball. When Rose learns this part of the game, while still factoring in his own scoring talents, he’ll join the upper tier of the league’s point guards.”

Of course, as the point guard, Rose usually has the ball in his hands. However, even when the ball is in “hot potato” mode, he can be effective. In general, Rose does a good job of moving without the ball in the set offense, but he’s not much of a spot-up shooter, preferring instead to make hard cuts to the basket. It would be best, however, if Rose could seriously upgrade his ability to spot up, especially from three-point range. After all, science has proven that a team’s offense becomes much more efficient when the point guard can knock down a high percentage of his three-point shots.

It’s interesting to note that, despite his many forays to the hoop last season, Rose averaged only 3.1 free throw attempts. Some people believe that Rose wasn’t aggressive enough, but I don’t think that’s the case. I believe that his low number of FTAs was due to the fact that he was a rookie. First off, NBA officials tend to make rookies pay their dues (no matter what David Stern says). Secondly, Rose hasn’t yet learned how to sell fouls the way veteran players do. Trust me, his fouls attempts will increase this season. And so will his free throw shooting percentage, which was 78.8 last season.

On defense:
Let’s get something straight: Rose has the sheer physical ability to be a top-notch defender…maybe one of the best in the league at his position. Want the proof? Check this out. And this. For the record, that second play was a must-stop situation that occurred during the final seconds of the third overtime of a playoff elimination game against the defending NBA champions. Feel free to say “wow.” I’ll wait.

Here’s the problem: those two plays were exceptions to the rule. During his rookie season, Rose didn’t focus on or commit to defense on a consistent basis. Generally speaking, he could usually be found in the general vicinity of the man he was guarding. But Rose rarely put pressure on opposing point guards. He had trouble fighting through screens (which is more about strength of will than strength of body). He wasn’t very vocal when defensive switches were needed. He struggled (sometimes mightily) to keep his man in front of him and his hands were usually closer to his own waistband than his opponent’s shot attempts.

On the bright side, he was a rookie. It’s possible that Rose’s defensive struggles were part of the learning process that all first year players go through. If he can improve his fundamentals and turn up the intensity, he could become a defensive beast.

One of Rose’s most impressive traits has been his maturity. The kid was unflappable last season. He never hung his head after bad games, never shrank away from big moments. That’s exactly what a team needs from its point guard and franchise player/team leader. However, Rose has so far been one of those quiet, lead-by-example types. That’s not going to cut it. For Rose and the Bulls to take the Next Step, he has to become a more vocal leader. Again, Rose was only a rookie last season, and Ben Gordon was semi-entrenched as the team leader (at least in critical situations). It’ll be interesting to see how Rose’s leadership skills develop this season.

Speaking of Gordon, Rose will most likely inherit his clutch shot responsibilities. Instead of watching BG scramble around the three-point arc trying to invent a shot, I expect to see the Bulls’ clutch offense revolve around high pick and rolls involving Rose and one of the team’s bigs.

One other concern — albeit a minor one — is whether Rose will be negatively affected by the controversies he was involved in this summer. Honestly, I don’t think it’ll be a problem…but you never know.

Rose is a lightning-quick, hyper-athletic point guard who can drive into the heart of a defense and make great things happen by finishing or passing. His jump shot is still suspect, and his ability to create offense needs to improve…as does his defense. He could also stand to become a more vocal leader. But these are all nitpicks. Rose was fantastic during his rookie season and has what it takes to ascend quickly to greatness.

More Rose: profile profile
Basketball-Reference profile Player Stats
Wikipedia entry

Bonus video:


14 Responses to Scouting Report: Derrick Rose

    blake September 1, 2009 at 3:28 pm #

    he’s great. certainly the future of the bulls. with his hometown connection and as the team favorite, I hope he’s protected from a future trade that so many others experienced in the bulls franchise.

    Brad S. September 1, 2009 at 6:02 pm #

    I don’t know… I think he’s kind-of overrated. I wish the Bulls would have kept Ben Gordon.

  3. Anonymous September 1, 2009 at 6:20 pm #

    Brad your are the biggest idiot ever.

    Tony C. September 1, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    I’d say that your analysis is fairly accurate, with one glaring exception – defense. First, it is obvious that he is a tremendous athlete, but so are the vast majority of the players in the NBA. If you view a highlight reel of Tyrus Thomas blocking shots, it would be easy to assume that he is the greatest shot-blocker in history.

    While you did qualify the exceptional plays as being atypical, you severely understated just how bad Rose was on defense. He was, frankly, like a friggin’ sieve. When facing other quick guards, he was frequently made to look slow. Devin Harris, in particular, blew by him at will in virtually every Nets game.

    In fact, given his tremendous natural abilities, Rose was very disappointing on the defensive end. Can he improve? Absolutely. Will he? Yes. But he has a long, long way to go before becoming an asset on the defensive end of the floor.

    Finally, I’ll add an unusual insight into how Rose can be so explosive on offense, and so vulnerable to quick guards on defense. He is used to operating at 3/4 speed on offense, then kicking in the supercharger. That’s part of why he is such a tough cover. On defense he had a tendency to rely on the same two speed approach, and was frequently caught flat-footed. Someone in the organization needs to teach him to move his feet more frequently and rapidly on defense.

    Interestingly, Jordan showed a similar characteristics on offense, but figured out how to adjust on defense. Rose needs a bit of help.

    granville waiters September 1, 2009 at 8:46 pm #

    obviously he can improve on D. and will. i think he was conserving energy on D, regularly. that’s why he didn’t have a rookie slump at the end of the year. 82 games is a lot for every rookie, but he’ll get stronger. and after a couple years he’ll be more driven to play D 24/7. as for his offense, it looks like he’s holding back, which is something i’ve never seen in any other player. i wish he would have taken over at the end of games more often. i think the sky is the limit offensively. i fully expect him to improve significantly in every stat. it appears that he can score at will, so i’m curious to see how high his ppg will be this year and at the height of his career.

    oh yeah- Brad, you kidding?

    Brad S. September 1, 2009 at 8:55 pm #

    Wow, Tony C!

    Allow me to be the first to congratulate you on your thoughful, well-written, & basketball savy comment. I think you are dead-on about him using two speeds and that being a detriment to his defense, but an asset to his offense. I do, however, feel that he possesses the type of personality that will not allow him to rest on his laurels. It sounds like this year he is working on his outside shooting. Perhaps defense is only another offseason away?

    In any case, I truly appreciated your oppinion and look forward to reading your posts in the future.

    -Brad S.

    Brad S. September 1, 2009 at 8:57 pm #


    Yeah. I just thought I would lay down a little joke for the regulars. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that I love DRose and that Ben Gordon gives me head-aches.

    boppinbob September 2, 2009 at 8:28 am #

    D. Rose had a great rookie season. His outside shooting and defense were woeful. There should be no reason we will not see an improvement in both areas if he is going to lead by example. Tony C. really nailed it. As far as Rose assuming the leadership mantle, that will come when it happens, probably sooner than later. In the meantime Captain Kirk will provide the verbal leadership until and if D. Rose wants to assume that role. I am getting used to you Brad S.

    Matt, I really enjoy the job you do on this blog.

    steven September 2, 2009 at 5:17 pm #

    Derrick will definitly be an allstar, letting go of Ben was a mistake, Reinsdorf is gona regret it.

    felipe garcia September 3, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    Steven, I am sorry but you a dumb ass lol. Why in the world would Reinsdorf regret of letting go of BG??? Without BG, the Bulls have a bigger lineup & they are a stronger defensive team this year. If anything, they should have a better record this season, getting the 4-6 spot in the playoffs.

  11. Anonymous September 7, 2009 at 5:03 am #

    Derrick rose is a very good player. Definately the rookie of the year. Of course he has thing he needs to work on, but so does every player in the league, except for Kobe Bryant. I hope to see derrick with the bulls for a long time. I beleive he has a good chance to lead this team to another championship.

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  1. Derrick Rose: Defensive sieve? » By The Horns - September 3, 2009

    […] my scouting report on Derrick Rose, I criticized the kid’s defense. Well, By The Horns reader Tony C. felt that I didn’t […]

  2. Where did Derrick Rose’s passes go? » By The Horns - October 1, 2009

    […] In my scouting report on Derrick Rose, I noted that the Bulls’ rookie point guard ranked 12th in the NBA in total assists (512) last season. Just for fun, here’s a list (in descending order) of the players who dropped more dimes than D-Rose: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Rajon Rondo, Jose Calderon, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Duhon, Raymond Felton and Andre Miller. Immediately trailing Derrick were guys like Baron Davis, Tony Parker, Chauncey Billups, Devin Harris and Joe Johnson. All in all, Rose is keeping some pretty good company. […]

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