Derrick Rose looking to avoid contact, play smarter? or is it?

Derrick Rose looking to avoid contact, play smarter?  or is it?

Team USA had its first practice yesterday and will televise camp today. It will be the first chance for Bulls fans to see Derrick Rose play since last November when he tore his knee (2pm CST on NBA TV for those recording at home). However, we got to hear some quotes out of Rose for the first time in awhile.

From ProBasketballTalk:

“I’m able to control my body a little bit more, using my speed more, being smart with my speed rather than just running wild out there,” Rose said. “I’’ve become a smarter player, but I’m mad it took me seven years to learn it.”

“Trying to use a lot of floaters, a lot of pull-ups, stuff like that so you aren’t touched as much,” Rose said.

“I think when I came back last time I wanted it too bad. I was trying to force the game,” Rose said, having missed a full season then getting injured on a cut just six games into his return. “This time around I’m trying to let the game come to me, of course be aggressive at times, but be in control of the game and be smarter, and be able to run the team at the point guard position.”

Derrick Rose has never been much of a wordsmith. I'm not really going to place too much emphasis on what he says and instead watch to see what he does. However, the point he makes is that he wants to play more conservatively, absorb less contact, try and free himself up for more shots without so many hits.

I find two things to be quite ironic about this view. His knee injuries didn't happen from contact. His first happened on a move more designed to avoid contact than take it. His second just happened out of nowhere with no one around him while he wasn't doing anything special in particular.

Also, if he's going to play with varying speeds, more pull ups, more floaters, and less banging, then he probably didn't need to bulk up like the hulk this off-season. His upperbody looks jacked, and while I don't think more muscle is ever likely to hurt you, Derrick might be carrying an extra 15-20lbs on his upper body he's so buff.

That's great if you intend to play like a Bull, but if you're going to be shift and tricky and use floaters and avoid contact then well, it's probably not all that useful and might even harm you. It's actually going to put more stress on his knees landing rather than less.

So with all that said, I don't fault Derrick or his reasoning. Fans have thought for awhile that he needs to play more in control and adapt his game coming after the ACL injury. I think I speak for all Bulls fans when I say we don't really care so much about his style as we do his effectiveness, so whether he's viewed as smarter or scared will be based on the results not the mentality.

If he can be successful while avoiding contact then everyone will applaud the move of his adaptation. If he can't, then he'll get slammed for going away from what made him great.

Think that sucks? Yeah, I suppose it does, but life's not fair, and part of that "not fairness" is that Derrick Rose has earned around 300 million dollars. Another part is that he'll be judged on some unfair double standards, because in the end all we really care about is the result.

So in order to not cheat out on this one, I'll say this without seeing the results yet.

Rose has only played as an MVP caliber player when he was drawing a lot of fouls at the rim. For him to still be an MVP caliber player he'll still likely need to do that. If he's overly conservative at picking his spots and is looking to avoid contact then he might become an all-star caliber player again, but he won't be a superstar.

Rose doesn't have amazing court vision. He's not an amazing passer. He's not a great jump shooter. What he's really great at is driving to the basket and finishing. If that ability diminishes we'll have to hope he really improved in one of those other areas.

I find it highly unlikely the developed amazing court vision while sitting out. His shot? Well he may have improved that considerably. That's certainly a possibility, and we'll find out if it's true or not as time goes on but I wouldn't hold my breath.

However, a healthy all-star caliber Rose destroys a superstar caliber Rose on the bench. It's a tough debate, I can see myself landing on either side. My biggest concern with a real shift in playing style is that I'm not sure avoiding contact will really improve his odds of avoiding catastrophic injury.

Moving in a straight line into contact is probably harder on your upper body, but it's less pressure on your knees than a bunch of quick moves designed to avoid it where you are putting all the pressure on your weaker muscles designed to help with the lateral movement.

In the end though, Derrick just said some words to reassure fans. It's probably not worth reading into them at all. Especially not when Derrick Rose's vine from team USA practice shows him diving straight into guys again. It's just another speech that will perhaps be overanalyzed (and perhaps only by me) during the off-season because there's not much else to talk about.

The proof is in the result, I look forward to seeing a sneak peak at those results this afternoon.

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  • I think you should do an article on Love and how he has said he wont commit to an extension to any team before the start of the season. And whether we should or would go after him and what type of package would you give for a all star rental?

  • In reply to 1096ballenf:

    What type of package should the Bulls give for Love on a 1-year rental? NOTHING!

    The problem is, the Bulls would have to move salary. So, Taj for sure, and pieces. But Taj is a good player on a good contract. The real problem is M and M. It is simply insane to trade those two potential All-stars for a rental. In fact, IMO, it would be foolish to make this trade even if Love signs an extension.

    Look, I get that the Bulls maybe could have landed Garnett or Gasol years ago with a better offer. The potential of M and M is different - if even one of these guys becomes an All-star, the Bulls are the losers on this trade. If both do, we will be lamenting this trade for a generation!

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I love your optimism, but to refer to the M&M boys a potential all stars is a bit much without even seeing either of them play against NBA competition. Maybe they have potential to become scrub level all stars, like Luol Deng(and many others like BJ Armstrong) did, that might reasonable to hope for. But I think that when people think of an all star they think of something more than that. McDermott looks like a very good/excellent role player, and we just don't know what Mirotic looks like, although he likely has the better shot to develop into an all star.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Doug McDermott has an opportunity to be a Jeff Hornacek-type impact player and Nikola Mirotic has the opportunity to be a Dirk Nowitzki. If McDermott can surpass that and Mirotic falls a bit short, but comes close, then the Love trade would be ridiculous! You have to gamble if you want greatness. The Bulls made the right move.

  • In reply to Inquisitive Dude:

    I guess what I'm saying is that Mirotic will be as good as Love, or close to it.

  • In reply to 1096ballenf:

    I would give up the full package and hope for the best. I think he'd have few better options and that the Bulls would be the #1 team in the East with him.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    You dont fear we will get Howard'd like the Lakers did?

    Thats my main concern. Yea we are the best but players dont always see that. He may sign with LA for the max just he likes it out there. Maybe the knicks throw him the max to team up with melo? Thats not at all a bad move.

    I think rentals are a bad idea but depending on your tema it may be worth it.

  • Yeah I was watching some replays ESPN had of Rose at the Team USA practice and he was looking explosive and jacked. He does look like he added everybit of 10-15 pounds of muscle.

    Good points on how his injuries occurred Doug. I wouldn't worry too much about him turning into a Vince Carter esque mega puss. Derrick's not that guy I bet he plays really similar to the way he used to. The added muscle should really help his game I am getting excited to see him finally playing again!

  • In reply to Chad:

    Unless you're doing steroids, it is virtually impossible to put on 15-20 lbs of muscle in less than a years time. It would be interesting to see if Rose even weighs 20 lbs more than he did when he was drafted.

  • Doug, interesting point about Rose. I am on the optimistic side that thinks Rose will be back at superstar level. He is a gifted player with unbelievable speed. Give him an open court and nobody can beat him, even LBJ. On another topic where I would be very interested to hear from you is an analysis of whether Love makes sense to the Bulls for the exchange of Taj and M&M. I have heard from other experts that if your best player is not a SF, it doesn't add any value adding another All Star level at any other position. The experts says in this case, having an elite defense at SF is better than adding an elite PF. So, it appears that Love makes more sense on the Cavs than the Bulls as we are constructed now. Hopefully you can provide some analysis/ opinion on whether the Bulls will be better or worse off with Love and what they have to give up to get him.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    I would absolutely make that trade and get Kevin Love.

    Even in that case, we'd still have Jimmy as the elite SF defender. However, I think stars win, that's what my expert analysis says (based on the last article I did profiling NBA title teams).

    It's a risk, but only if you view Mirotic or McDermott having true allstar (rather than fringe) all star potential. It's also a statement in believing in Derrick Rose rather than trying to rebuild.

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    Good piece... Oh my, I was thinking the same thing as I watched the Vine vid, and saw his comments about avoiding contact. lol Yeah right!
    Once the season starts Rose will be the same Rose taking his defender to the hole with his exceptional ball handling ability, shifty moves, and And 1 finishes. Unfortunately, for the new look offensive minded Bulls this would be somewhat of a mistake. If Rose is not much of an assist man then it's best to have him to take on the role as a SG, and have Hinrich distribute the ball.

  • more floaters and less jacking up 3s would be nice. He needs to get his touch back on his midrange jumper which he had a very solid one in his second year. 18 pts per game and 8 dimes should be achievable for him.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    I think when you work on your three point shot it becomes harder to keep the mid range shot. You end up developing muscle memory from a distance a lot easier. I know when I extended my range out to the NBA three point line my mid range game went to hell.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    So, what does that say for McDermott who has both? He's a shooter, and an excellent one. When, since MJ/Pippen have the Bulls had a shooter like either one of the M & M guys? Doesn't it make sense to see what they can do before trading them? Maybe near the trade deadline if the are not translating to the NBA. Maybe.

  • Like Doug said, eloquence is not one of Rose's traits. We should not read too much in Derrick's quotes. I think what Rose wanted to say is he will try to be smarter on picking his spots, especially early on. He said it multiple times he knows he is a slasher. We all saw he was trying too hard last year, forcing the issue, driving through bodies just to prove he was back. It's been two years. I like his mentality. Let the game come to him. Set the offense when the fast break isn't there, move the ball, and position himself to get it back eventually in spots where he can attack, instead of overdribbling and trying to create plays all the time. We all agree Rose was never a brilliant passer. If, instead of iniciating the offense, Thibs finds a way to put Derrick in position to attack, especially early on, the better.

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    Doug, great topic. I think you need to read into his comments a little bit differently and think of him in comparison to Chris Paul. CP isn't as quick as he used to be but what he's become amazing at is getting his getting a step but then slowing down to get the guy on his hip so he can't recover. Then he'll either pass, pull-up, or shoot a floater.

    I think when Derrick say he is going to try to avoid contact, he is referring to driving full speed into traffic and going at the bigs. He was probably the best in the league at his position at still finishing in these scenarios but these are the types of hits that take a toll, not so much the contact that one would initiate with another PG. Slowing down and utilizing the floater/pull-up more is what will help him play for the next 10 years.

  • In reply to TommyO:

    TommyO - agreed. CP3 executes the hesitation or change of speed drive flawlessly. Most players play with the idea that once you got a step on your defender, hit the gas pedal, explode and finish at the rim. If you're taller wing or big, this makes more sense because of height/strength leverage.

    But for smaller guards or PG's, a step on a defender is just the beginning of a world of opportunities - as you outlined - drive, hesitate, pull-up, floater, pass inside, pass outside etc. Last we saw Derrick, he operated under the notion of explode to the rim and finish using your strength and athleticism.

    Would love to see Rose add more subtle aspects to the game by understanding defenses and playing angles. Derrick is never going to be the cerebral playmaker of a CP3 or Tony Parker but he could still learn a lot from them that could allow him to operate at a superstar level even though he may not be the athlete or explosive rim finisher he once was.

    How Derrick adapts, changes, and adds to his arsenal will be the biggest factor to see if Derrick will be able to perform at an MVP level again. He'll never be "old Derrick." The question for Bulls fans is can he still be superstar Derrick.

  • From what I gather, Derrick has diversified his offensive arsenal... and that is a very good thing. Rose started out in the league doing one thing really well - exploding and finishing at the rim. He had a great ability to get to the rim and finish with a layup/dunk but had no 3 point shot so he settled for long 2s and mid-range shots. Rose has since worked on his outside shot and it has become respectable allowing him to become a dual threat offensively even if it was still skewed. However, defending Rose is still pretty straight forward - trap early and get the ball out of his hands or play back defensively giving Rose the outside shot (long 2 or 3) but cutting off or clogging the lane.

    Essentially, last we saw a full-time/healthy Rose, he was primarily a 2 outcome offensive player. Finisher at the rim with layup/dunk or outside shooter with a developing 3 point shot. If Derrick has truly diversified his game and added to his mid-range and especially his paint or short-range game by adding rollers, floaters, fadeaways, post-ups, pull-up jumpers, now he makes defenders have to think. It used to be when Derrick would drive, defenders would change their angles to try and meet him at the rim to stop the dunk or layup. If Derrick is pulling up early with floaters or short jumpers, the inputs a defender has to consider now changes the defensive calculus, making him an even more difficult to guard. It may offset some of loss of explosion or speed because of injuries.

    I still think that with Derrick, the 3 point shot is what opens up the rest of his offensive game. If he can maintain a 35% 3pt % or higher, he'll have even greater success with points in the paint.

    Bottomline, I'd like to see Rose pattern his game more after Tony Parker than a Russel Westbrook. Parker can take it to the rim (even if its not with the same explosion as Rose) and he's got a respectable 3 point shot, but what I love about Parker is his understanding of angles that give him paths to the basket or opens up free pockets of space to get a shot off. There is a simplicity and efficiency about his game because he's not trying to make a flashy or power aggressive move, he's taking what the defense gives him, plays angles, looks for open areas to get high percentage shots up. And Parker has a great sense of when to shoot a pull-up jumper or throw up floaters to throw defenses and defenders off.

    Rose will never have Parker's vision and court awareness but if he can adopt some of Parker's offensive attack strategies, he'll be better off in the long-term. Will be interesting to see what Rose has fully become over the last 2-3 years. Hopefully he stays healthy.

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    In reply to ripiceman:

    Ripiceman, very poignant and I agree with everything.

  • In reply to TommyO:

    I certainly hope that nothing about Rose's comeback is poignant this time around.

  • Doug, it seems like you are attributing Derricks past quickness to his smaller size, which simply isn't the case. There is no reason whatsoever to believe his upper body having gained weight in pure muscle would slow him down, unless you are assuming he didn't add proportional strength and muscle to his lower body. And since he's a guy with a personal trainer who makes 6 figures, I think its safe to say they did proportional work to both the upper and lower body. A bigger yet still as fast Derrick can only be a good thing. And while his two knee injuries were certainly not on contact plays, his other problems with staying on the court previously were directly related to contact at the rim, and I still think the year he tore his ACL the weakened parts around his knee(ie his ankle) played a huge part in that one devastating injury. When your ankle can't handle as much stress, it transfers that stress elsewhere, whether it be to the other leg, or the knee above that ankle. So I'm happy to hear he is making adjustments for his body's healthy, and not just being bullheaded and acting like he's invincible. I also need to say this again, as I have before; his injury last year, a torn Meniscus, was not a serious injury and I'm tired of the media being too stupid to recognize this fact. Not talking about Doug here, I've been pulling my hair out hearing guys like Jonathon Hood from ESPN1000AM saying stuff like, Rose has suffered two devastating knee injuries. You can completely blow your meniscus and its still not a serious injury. They opted for the full repair surgery to insure Rose wouldn't deal with issues down the road, they could have had him back on the court in 2 months but took the smart route. D-Wade elected back in college to have his meniscus removed rather than going with the smart choice like Derrick did. That wrong decision is the one undeniable cause of Wade's rapid decline and he has said as much in interviews(google Wade meniscus). I'm just tired of people overstating Rose's injury situation; his future should be met with little more doubt than Russell Westbrook's or Rajon Rondo's. Neither of them have missed nearly as much time as Derrick, to be sure, but from a strictly medical standpoint, Rose's repairs and work aren't notably greater in risk than those two players', and Rose having not stressed his joints these past two years does have a tangible positive affect on his future health outlook.

  • Doug, to borrow a quote from a current commercial. "That's not how it works, that not how any of this works"

    The stress on your knee doesn't just go up and down with the weight in the body above it. As you strengthen your knee and the muscles around it, you reduce the stress on it, its actually entirely possible to gain a large amount of upper body weight in muscle and Lower the stress on your knee, all it takes is proportional strengthening of the leg muscles and joints. Do you think Lebron James knees are under the same stress as some punk off the streets who has the same amount of weight above his knees? Hell no, he has built his legs and core up to take a huge amount of stress off the knees, while the punk on the streets has not, and bears much more stress on his joints because of it.

  • In reply to Chicagosportsguru:

    Clearly weigh more puts more stress on your knees. Yes, adding adequate lower body strength can help offset that for sure, but it depends on the situation too. In some situations there are no great supporting muscles due to the angle, and adding weight just hurts your knees.

    It's why centers have knees that go fast even if they have great lower body strength. So I suppose I agree and disagree with you.

    Quickness is the same thing, sure adding an appropriate amount of lower body strength may allow you to be as quick with a bigger upperbody, but you'd still be quicker without it. I'm not meaning to suggest Derrick screwed up by gaining a bunch of muscle, but there's been tons of guys who put on a lot of muscle then slimmed down afterwards because it slowed them down in sports.

  • Maybe I'm a bit too optimistic but I'm just happy to see Rose on his feet again. One thing I do want to say Doug concerning the nature of Rose's injuries, you said they both were non-contact injuries and in saying that you are correct. However, only speaking of his Torn ACL, I'm inclined to believe his injury didn't occur at that exact moment. Usually when someone has a tear, they're the 1st to know something isn't right. There's normally a process of developing that injury prior to the actual injury itself. It's the constant grinding on the injury without giving it ample time to rest that makes the tear. So what I'm getting at is I believe Rose knew his knee was banged up but continued playing on it. It isn't unlike a competitor to play through pain when you desperately want to win, but maybe he just didn't know how significant his knee injury was and just thought it would naturally heal itself. That's my take on it anyway. I hope Rose has learned his lesson and I believe he's truly healthy this time.

    I know that no matter what shape or form he comes back to the Bulls in, he will be judged and haters are going to hate anyway so their opinion is irrelevant. What's most important is he comes back healthy and learn to rely on his teammates more offensively. I know in the past we've had some funky offense, everything from Captain Klank, Keith Bogans, Nazr Mohammed, Carlos Loser, etc. with Deng as our only other option offensively and I feel he was heavily overrated on the Bulls as well as Kirk Hinrich. Now we actually have guys that can make shots as well as an impressive and deep front court. All of this should help take pressure off Derrick Rose and improve his assists. People say Rose ain't a great point guard and is a better fit as a undersized shooting guard but I think that's bologni. It's hard to make plays for your teammates when they don't have the skill to make wide open shots.

  • Derrick's arms and shoulders especially do look noticeably beefed up along with his torso/stomach looks developed i.e jacked. You'd think that would be a shorter SG trying to compensate with contact etc. rather then a PG. I'm not sure why a PG needs to be built like that as most are not. Then again Derrick's strength was his scoring often as a driver, and strength there could be useful.

    It is possible that Derrick uses his new strength to advantage taking other guards into the mid and lower block and also separating himself on screens. Maybe the Bulls will adopt more of a Spur's motion offense where Derrick receives the ball in motion similar to Tony and not so often pounding the ball trying to create on his own from the top of the key. Bottom line: Derrick will either stay healthy or he won't. Hopefully he'll play well or he may be a shadow of himself. IMO We won't know until the end of next season if he's "back" as a star player in the league. And that includes the playoffs.

  • I don't think that any of this matters, more weight, less weight, more contact, less contact. Every athlete/person has a body with it's own tendencies. Since both of his previous injuries were "non contact" Rose body seems inclined to break down under stress, whereas like Michael, Lebron and even Kobe didn't/don't at least until age caught up with them. Michaels broken foot seemed like more of a freak injury, whereas Rose's 2 knee injuries seem more like structural defects.

    So really, the only thing that I'm hoping against hope for is that he remains healthy for the next 5-6 years.

  • Good article, I like that you're one of the few writers willing to criticize rose.

    However, you're making a false assumption that the only injuries Rose wants to avoid are in his knees, when you assume that avoiding contact has nothing to do with his knee injuries.

    Also, the first quote addresses the fact that he's more conservative. He stated he's more conservative with his speed. It didn't mention driving.

    The use of the floaters and pull up jumpers, depending on the kind of pull up jumper, may not necessitate changing direction/speed. Although the overall impact of the quotes implies that rose is going to avoid contact, it doesn't mean that rose will change direction nor does it imply that knee injuries are his biggest concern.

    In the end, I agree that the quote probably doesn't represent how derrick's game has evolved,but it's just some random talking point over analyzed by the press, and then even more analyzed by random guys on the internet like me. ]


  • I think expecting Rose to be elite at drawing fouls after the injuries he has had is a bit unrealistic anyway.

    I think more important is whether he's changed in respect to you saying he's not a great jump shooter. He's had plenty of time to practice it. Jason Kidd should be his role model here - an inconsistent shooter really through all his 20s yet ended up 3rd all time on 3 point makes.

    Really given his mid range numbers were pretty elite for the number and difficulty of attempts he was taking, after 2 years of working on it he should have a reliable 3 point shot. Not asking him to be Kyle Korver, just hit mid 30s% on good volume.

    The old Rose is unlikely to be coming back, the question is whether he's been able to create a new Rose that can be effective in different ways.

    Speaking of Kyle Korver, excellent Zach Lowe piece on him:

    'The first, dubbed “gravity score,” measures how often defenders are really guarding a particular player away from the ball. Korver had the fourth-highest score, behind only Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George. The second — “distraction score” — is a related attempt to measure how often a player’s defender strays away from him to patrol the on-ball action. Korver had the lowest such score in the league.'

    Really backs up the idea that Thibs had no clue what he had with Korver. Hopefully he corrects that mistake if McDermott lives up to the Korver comparisons.

  • Side note: With LeBron itching to play again in CLE (going "home") and KD at least entertaining the idea of playing for the Wizards, does that mean we'll get Jabari Parker in about 7 years? Haha, one can only dream...

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