Can Butler And Rose Co-Exist?

Can Butler And Rose Co-Exist?

The game of basketball is ever-changing. We've moved away from the half court, post orientated offensive sets, in favor of pace and space dynamics predicated on the breadth of quality guard and perimeter play. With this shift, the narrative of "best backcourt" has grown strong in the modern era, with player's themselves taking great pride and notice of this fictitious badge of honor.

It almost seems silly that such a contest even exists given the continuous excellence of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but nonetheless, routinely you will see NBA broadcasts discussing the merits and rankings of the best guard combinations around the league via fancy graphics, basic metrics and mundane analysis.

Often finding themselves in the conversation, Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose garner high praise, particularly for their ability to be two-way caliber players in a largely downhill league.

As a fan of the team, it's nice to hear their names mentioned among the best, if for nothing more than unashamed bragging rights. Though we welcome these superlatives, are they actually fact driven?

Comparing Rose and Butler to the backcourt duo's around the league, it's difficult to suggest that their combination is as seamless as their peers.

John Wall's dribble penetration and thirst for playmaking has blended perfectly with Bradley Beal's ability to shoot, thus cementing the two on Washington's perimeter for the next decade; Toronto is able to score in a variety of ways thanks to the mid-range game and foul drawing ability of DeMar DeRozan and the volume three-point shooting of Kyle Lowry; Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum electrify Rip City with their combined 13.9 attempts from deep, together forming one the best shooting backcourts in the league, whilst Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, despite their lack of height, more than make up for it with their abilities to master pick-and-roll sets from all angles.

Then, of course, you have the demigods of Golden State, who appear flawless at present with Stephen Curry becoming the best player in the game and Klay Thompson continuously bombing from deep, making him the best shooter in the game not named Steph.

So much talent exists that it almost seems unfair to compare Chicago's backcourt to those around them, especially when Derrick Rose has yet to improve his 9.7 PER, leaving Jimmy Butler to do he majority of the heavy lifting on the perimeter. Nevertheless, we hang onto the notion that at some point, Rose will work out his early season struggles, and will propel the Bulls from mediocrity to contention.

Derrick finally recovering back to a quality starting level point guard should lift the production of the Bulls' backcourt, which has suffered greatly, but as we wait, have we been wrong to assume that Butler and Rose - when healthy - really fit together like many of the best NBA backcourts already do?

Sharing an offense is easier said then done. You need enough possessions for both players to use and feel comfortable in the hierarchy. One of the two guards needs to have elite dribbling and passing skills to run a competent offense, whilst the other needs to be a supreme catch-and-shoot finisher who can make the most of their opportunities in limited time. Looking around the league, the best guard combos do this.

In Chicago, can we make the same claim?

As players, fundamentally, the two are very similar. Ideally, both crave to showcase their talents in isolation, using their incredible physical gifts to surpass those who dare to stop them. Given both players aim to individually beat their opponent, in order to ensure a semblance of balance exists, sharing of the ball is critical. Unfortunately, this is something neither have yet to master.

Since his return, Rose has lost his lateral movement, rendering his killer crossovers as nothing more than a forgotten relic. Never a strong or instinctive passer, this inability has heightened as his athleticism begins to wain. Similarly, though Butler's ball handling skills have improved mightily, they're not elite, neither are his passing abilities, despite a thirst to be known as a point guard.

Even if they could build a cohesive partnership in a "take it in turns" offense, neither are credible off-ball threats. Jimmy will sky for the occasional alley-oop slam, but his slashing game has taken a back seat to the on-ball shot creation he so willing wants to develop.

In his breakout season, Butler showed that he had extended his range, shooting 37.8 percent from three on 3 attempts a game, but this has fallen considerably in 2015-16, down to 32.6 percent on 3.5 attempts per game. When Rose has the ball for his shot on offense, are team's really going to worry about Butler's deep ball?

Of course not.

Compounding this, is the tribulations of Derrick Rose's broken jump shot. In 2014-15, the volume of attempts was crazy, particularly when shooting 28.0 from three. Now, even though the volume has come down to respectable levels, his percentage has followed, only connecting on 22.4 percent of his three-pointers. Put simply, that's god awful.

Rose is also being forced to learn what his basketball life looks like as his athleticism abandons him. Never needing to know how to play without the unrivaled physical traits he entered the league with, the very thing that made him so brilliant, is also that which is crippling his play today.

Ask yourself this; If you could jump out of a gym and dunk on players a foot taller than you, would you really bother extending the range of your jumper? If you were quicker than everyone else and get to the hoop at will, why bother mastering the nuances of pick-and-roll basketball?

Sadly, without his incredible athleticism, Derrick's game has yet to find away to contribute if dribble penetration is not possible, and without the ball, the lack of fundamentals and ability to read off-ball action has left Rose completely ineffective.

As each guy auditions for the lead guard mantle on any given possession, all too often you will find one or both simply standing around, waiting and watching. This would be fine if either could shoot well enough to command the respect of the defense, but as already established, that's just not happening.

In the following examples from the Nets blunder, you will notice both Rose and Butler limit their off-ball movement to a near stand still, sans a few lifeless cuts through the paint. Given Fred Hoiberg's offense is predicated on smart and timely reads away from the action, this is troubling.

Perhaps it's unfair to lump all the blame of a stagnant offense on Rose and Butler, particularly when the examples used are focused on post entries and establishing position on the block. But, therein lies the problem.

If you have two guards who are very similar to each other, with both wanting to immerse themselves in the lanes, playing half court basketball with two big men who find themselves in the way, is suboptimal.

It's the same problem Chicago faced during Rose's peak years, and the issue continues to plague the team, even if focus on improving these flaws has increased. As of now, both players are better suited with their backcourt mate being a gunner from deep. Pairing Rose with Klay Thompson or Jimmy Butler with Damian Lillard, these fits are far more logical, and though only examples, those combinations make more functional sense from a balancing of skillset standpoint.

So then, if the question being asked is can the Bulls' backcourt co-exist going forward, the answer is no given the construct of the team at present.

With Hoiball being a mirage and the archaic offensive schemes of Tom Thibodeau filtering their way back into the playbook, Chicago will not be able to build a competent offense with this iteration of Derrick Rose, who needs as much space as possible, and Jimmy Butler, who is very publicly making his mark as the team's leader and No. 1 option.

Can the pair make it work if the roster is re-tooled? Yes, this is entirely possible, but it will require a lot of shooting assistance within the frontcourt to make it work.

The small and power forward positions must contain shooters who are viable and legitimate threats from deep. The organization had this in mind when drafting Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic, even if the latter has been largely disappointing this season.

The center in this rotation doesn't need to be a shooter, though it would be preferable if they had a reliable 16-footer. At a minimum, acquiring a big who can dive on pick-and-roll plays and finish above the ring on alley-oop catches will allow the offense an element they've yet to feature, thus allowing for less predicitable pick-and-roll sets as opposing defenses will need to think twice about hedging on the Bulls' ball dominant guards. Currently, this player doesn't exist in the Bulls' locker room.

The roster needs work, we all know this. Blaming the roster as the primary dysfunction of the team, though, is easy, limited and flawed.

Gar Forman needs to do a better job of managing and balancing the roster around his star guards, but this shouldn't absolve Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler from any struggles they may face. Together, they need to be better.

Both need to improve their games individually, but also as a pairing. A healthy and cohesive attitude needs to be established, and agendas must fade if these two are to lead Chicago back to the Conference Finals.

Rose and Butler will never be Curry and Thompson. Stylistically, it's not possible, but someday, hopefully they can replicate the obvious passion that the Splash Brothers invoke within each other each time they share the floor, as well as developing the required fit needed for success to ensue, both of which have been lacking to date.




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    This team goes as far as Derrick Rose's abilities will take them. Jimmy's improvements are well noted but he's no former MVP. If Rose was playing up to his standards the Bulls would be a top 3 team in the league, and Hoiberg would look like a coaching genius.

    With that said, the best move for Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls is to part ways and trade him to any team that's willing to bring him on their roster. Rose is no longer a starting point guard and needs to be playing with a franchise that already has an elite PG and Derrick can play as his backup. This cannot happen in Chicago for Derrick is already an icon there, and if the Bulls were to bring in a much needed young, dynamic, starting point guard and bring him off of the bench, it would be devastating to Derrick's ego which is already battered and basically broken.

  • The great tragedy with Rose is he never expanded his skill set to compensate for his declining athleticism. We were told he developed a more consistent 3pt shot and that didnt translate to games. He was always pretty bad at trying to draw contact and didnt have the d-wade type pump fakes or swinging the arms through to get foul calls. I will give him credit for developing a midrange bank shot this year but he will need more than that to produce points. The worst thing is his handles look pretty bad and he was never a good passer to begin with. The Bulls probably let him play out his contract and dont resign him with the excuse they made an offer but he went elsewhere.

  • They always ask this question of the OKC guys. The way to silence that question is to play great basketball like Durant & Westbrook have been doing this year. If Derrick Rose were 20 and 7 on 45% and 35% from three shooting, this is a moot question. To me, the real question is, can Rose exist? Can this guy make a positive impact on the floor on a consistent basis? The season up until this point says no. He's been literally one of the worst players in the NBA and an absolute anchor weight around this team when he's on the floor and in his massive salary.

    I'm surprised by how quickly Bulls fans seem to have brushed aside Noah's 12-18 months of being a terrible basketball player. Add to it he's on the wrong side of 30 with a long history of serious injuries. Fans are frightened the team isn't going to pay Noah this offseason. Pay Noah? Pay Noah 10-15+ million a year? What a mistake that would/will be. I've been down on Noah since the Wizards gave teams the blueprint to neutralize him in the playoff. Over-guard him and pressure the ball when Noah looks to run the offense at the top taking his great passing skills away and then don't guard him at all inside the three-point line, putting a guy between him and a free run to the basket on the rare occasions it's necessary. Add up the injuries which limit his effectiveness and his declining skills due to age and it will be devastating for the future of the team if Noah gets a fat contract from them and plays the center spot for years to come.

    Meanwhile, fans appear more than ready to cut the cord on Niko in his sophomore year after a quarter season of disappointing play under a new coach that's clearly out of his depth.

  • This team needs a new blood desperately. We are stuck with Rose for two more years and I don't think we are going to see major improvements from him. If he can turn into an average point guard, it will be too much to ask. Taj, Noah and Pau should be aggressively shopped for a starting wing player. If this is not happening, time to tank and go for a lottery pick next year and dish Rose after his last year's contract.

  • There is no way we are stuck with Rose. Players just as bad with worse contracts have been traded, if we package him with Taj or Pau we can easily get rid of him.

    The Bulls would certainly have to take a contract as bad as Rose's, but IMHO it would be worth it just to get rid of the ghost of Derrick Rose.

    The Knicks are said to be looking to move Calderon and Derrick Williams, they might be willing to give Rose a shot. Calderon and Williams make over $12 million next season so it's not a huge uptick in salary taking a chance on Derrick somewhat resurrecting his career in a new enviornment (where he'd have no choice but to be 2nd fiddle to Melo).

    Rose, Moore, Bairstow and Felicio
    Calderon, Williams, Seraphin, Amundson and Early

    works salary-wise, and Calderon would be a perfect fit (offensively) for Hoiball.

    We'd have to move Snell to a team without taking back anyone in return to stay at 15 players until the trade was completed, but I'm sure nobody has a problem with that. (Or we could always find a 3rd team to take Early, which would be easy as he makes the NBA minimum salary).

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Rose to Philly for Landry, Marshall and Canaan also works, we'd just have to cut Bairstow and Felicio.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Frankly, I would not dump Rose simply to get rid of him, at least this year. While I am definitely not convinced that he will ever recover his game fully, given his current vision problems, we shouldn't give up a few games or even months too soon.
    He only has one year left after this, I say ride it out unless someone offers us something substantially real in return, like a young player with upside. How about the rights to Dario Saric, or Zack LaVine, or Elfrid Payton, you know the guys we could have drafted instead of McNoD.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I'm not sure we can do any better than simply getting rid of him.

    That being said, I'm with you that we need to get something in return. Calderon and Marshall are at least very good 3-point shooters, something Rose will never, ever be. And having a PG who is a good 3pt shooter is crucial to Hoiball being successful.

    People refuse to believe it, but there's no way anyone can tell me the Bulls aren't serious contenders this season. Everyone seems convinced that only the Cavs, Spurs and Thunder can possibly challenge the Warriors, well the Bulls are 4-0 vs those three this season.

  • Rose had a decent game today against OKC. Michael Wilbon interviewed Rose and confronted Rose about his poor play and poor shooting this season. Rose responded that he’s encouraged by his play. When pressed again by Wilbon about his poor shooting stats Rose responded that he thinks he’s playing well and nobody understands the obstacles he’s playing through. About the double vision, Rose said it’s his depth perception that is off, he cannot judge his distance from rim when shooting.

    He'll never return to his former athletic self, but I seriously doubt GarPax trade Rose.

  • In reply to Edward:

    To me, Rose sounded completely self deluded as usual. However, I have to believe that the vision problems are still seriously affecting his game, not just his shooting.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    IDK, first it was "double vision", now it's "depth perception"... the more I see, I can't help but think it's "Stevie Francis-itis". His athleticism WAS his game, and it's obviously gone, and I don't think it's coming back.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Yeah, Rose does often sound delusional. But he's a poor speaker and not particularly intelligent, just ask the guy who took the ACT for him. So we shouldn't put much emphasis on anything he says.

    But Rose is a tough competitor The dude's had 4 surgeries in 4 years. I can't imagine what that's like as a human. But to compete as an elite athlete as well?

    He's lost a lot of his athleticism due to the surgeries, and now a vision problem too?!? Yes, that vision issue has got to be a major obstacle in his play. It may be a while before his vision is normal. I can't hate on the guy.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I'm perfectly willing and able to wait for the vision problems to clear up, assuming that they eventually will. However, his "behavior" on the defensive end shouldn't really be significantly impacted by his vision problems. I believe that his lack of intelligence is a big part of his defensive behavior, but defense is more than 50% based on effort, so really he has no excuses when his body appears to be as healthy as it's been since 2012.

  • The Bulls are less than 30 games in w a new coach and system. They've beat OKC twice, San Antonio, Cleveland and played GSW close on the road without their best player. Yeah Rose has been spotty but he's shown up against the best and has been the fastest guy on the floor at times. He's pretty obviously holding back until games start to matter more. You can begrudge him doing so, but to act like the guy is washed up is silly.

    Chill Bulls fans. You go as far as Rose can take you, and you'll just have to wait to see what that means. The idea you're going anywhere but 40 wins and first round out with Jimmy Butler being your key guy is a joke.

  • So Rose has 25 tonight on 12-20 shooting, with 4 assists and 3 turnovers.

    Looks good on the surface, but during the last 3 minutes, when the Bulls needed him in a tie game, here are their offensive possessions:

    2:54 Derrick Rose makes 20-foot two point shot (ties game 108-108)
    2:18 Derrick Rose misses 16-foot jumper
    1:28 Derrick Rose misses 18-foot step back jumpshot
    0:59 Derrick Rose bad pass (Raymond Felton steals)
    0:41 Derrick Rose misses 5-foot jumper
    0:34 Jimmy Butler makes 25-foot three point jumper (Doug McDermott assists)
    0:11 5 sec inbound turnover (Rose doesn't get the ball inbounds)

    How the hell can you take a 5 seconds call in that spot? Throw it up to one of your big men, or throw it off the defender's leg, you just can't do that. Ever. Not in that situation.

    I'm as happy as anyone that Derrick had a good 34 minutes, but he blew it down the stretch.

    Still a very promising game, though, hopefully he can continue to build on it.

    At least Cleveland is getting blown out in Portland, so we'll stay 3 games out of the #1 seed.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    While I certainly welcome the improvement on the offensive end, at least until it mattered. He was also absolute garbage all night on D, he has clearly become a Ben Gordon clone on D, moronically clueless and pathetically feckless. He was so bad in the first half on Barea, that the Bulls had to hide him the entire second half on an injured Wes Mathews and then on a fat Ray Felton who blew by him several times with little effort.

    When both your starting PG and center are among the worst defensive sieves in the league, you really can't expect to be much more than a .500 team.

    We are also only one loss from being out of the playoffs, but I also enjoyed the Cav's blowout loss. Given the new and improved depth in the east, the Bulls are not even a lock to make the playoffs, nevermind the second seed.

  • I just finished watching the Dallas Mavericks loss. A couple of observations. I think it is right that Drose and Butler have similar games that don't complement each other as much. Yes Drose with Bradley Beal and Butler with Damian Lillard would be better. But would either of those combinations surpass Curry and Thompson, no? And in reality Curry and Thompson have similar games so it doesn't mean it cannot work. It really depends on what the third key player provides. In Golden State it is Green or Barnes or Andre who have great slashing to the basket games to complement the deadliness of Curry and Thompson.

    So the Bulls need a key third person with the deadliness from outside to complement the slashing of Rose and Butler. I'm not talking about someone who is streaky like Aaron or even Snell and really at times Dunleavy. I'm talking about someone like Curry or Thompson or Lilliard who scares you to death when they are left open because you know they will drain the three pointer.

    Best current options on the Bulls are McDermott and Mirotic, but McDermott is not as good defensively. Wes Matthews and Chandler Parsons just drove on him tonight to the basket and finished easily which should not be the case for someone of his size over both who are not the most athletic players these days. Also he did not close enough on help to create any fear from little guards like Barrea and Ray Felton.

    And Mirotic is erratic. When he is on point, he is the one. Kind of how Dunleavy is when he is on point shooting threes. But the question is how offen is he on point versus not being on point. He was actually better tonight but as usual he got himself in foul trouble. And for so one so deadly at times to miss two free throws in a row at the end of the game merely shows that you have the streakiness of Lebron James shooting from 3 point land.

    Unfortunately, there is no Kyle Korver coming through that door for the Bulls. Ironically it shows that one of the Bulls biggest blunders in the DRose era (and there are a few) was letting Korver get away. Instead of letting Asik go to Houston for nothing, they could have traded him earlier and got something for him even if it was draft picks to have had more money to sign Korver. Because as Mark posts points out, even during the DRose MVP season, the one thing the Bulls desperately needed was outside shooting. And they let one of the top five shooters go to ATL. But I digress.

    Tonight, you saw some of the burst and athletic ability from Drose while Butler also played at a top level. I actually think Drose was unguardable near the end of the game. He just missed a couple of easy floaters. And then he did what he has always done even when he was an MVP, when they double-teamed him with his size, the made some very lazy turnovers. Near the end of the game, he got a five second call for not throwing the ball in when they had a chance to tie the game with 11 seconds left to win on a three. But I blame that more on Hoiberg. It looked like the inbounds play had two options, but when the first one did not work, it took too much time setting up the second option.

    Still Dallas is not a bad team. And the Bulls played well enough on the road in a second day in a row where they could easily have one this game. There are some inconsistencies with the lineup and with offense with Bobby in on the second team and no Noah. The Mayor needs to figure that out a little more. But as I mentioned earlier some of that had to do with Mirotic being in a bit of foul trouble as well.

    So the Bulls can get much better as I think DRose's game is getting better. He is delusional in his comments about the current status of his play. It still makes no sense to me that him mentioning this double vision or depth perception stuff. That is just an excuse. If it is such a problem, then don't play. Better yet, if it is such a problem then don't jack up so many long jumpers. Focus on your resiliency and getting to the basket or wait until the double vision thing is done. Wasn't he hurt back in late September with an elbow? Aren't we now close to three months since that injury and he is still talking about vision and depth perception? Name an elite athlete who returned to full-time play and was still talking about an injury affecting him two months later where there was no consideration of taking him out to make sure the injury was healed especially in the early part of a season. So I think Derrick just doesn't make a lot of sense with what he is saying. And he is delusional about his past performance. But we do keep seeing glimpses of him playing better and closer to his MVP season performance. If he gets closer to that and the Bulls get Dunleavy and Noah back healthy and develop some cohesiveness as a team by the time of playoffs, they can play with any NBA team.

    I still don't know whether the Bulls can develop the character of an NBA championship winner especially if Drose ends up being inconsistent. It really is a question of whether a healthy Rose can lead the Bulls to a championship. Unfortunately, we should know the answer to that question by now but his injuries have prevented that. After this year if the Bulls are not at least in a close Eastern Conference Championship finals and preferably a NBA Finals participant, then they should consider blowing up this team.

    If this is the result, then everyone should be eligible for trade. And actually you may need some new leadership in the front office as well. Decide between Butler and Rose and see what the best assets you can get. If you feel the ship has past when the trade deadline comes up, then trade Pao before he leaves and same with Noah. Acquire assets and rebuild with them. Maybe you end up with only two key players from this team, possibly Rose and Mirotic, or Butler and Mirotic and start the rebuilding process. As a lifelong Bulls fan, I hope this doesn't happen. But like everything with the Bulls over the last five years, it all depends on how well DRose plays and how far the team can go with him as the main man.

    Butler is great and a real attribute. But as mentioned, with him and Rose playing similar games and Rose actually having more ability to break down players and get easier shots on offense, the team runs through Rose. I'd like to see Rose get back to being a better defender as well. Tonight the Bulls kept Butler on Barrea. This was the perfect team where Butler could have been better used on offense if he wasn't spending so much time chasing Barrea. Again, I hope Rose continues to improve, Butler stays right where he is and that third person who proves to be a deadly outside shooter (Mirotic, preferably, McDermott, or Dunleavy) consistently shows up and is a useful third component.

  • Outstanding post, I just have two small problems with it:

    1- You mention how the Bulls miss Korver, but McDermott IS Korver, with a better all-around offensive game inside the arc.

    Through the same number of career minutes, McDermott actually has a slightly higher 3-point percentage than Korver did.

    McDermott is a bad defender right now, but so was Korver at the same age. Korver was a bad defender until Thibs got ahold of him, there is certainly room for McD to improve his defense.

    2- Niko's foul trouble didn't really effect anything, he played a season-high 40 minutes, so it's not like he had to sit out because of his foul trouble.

    But again, outstanding post, very nice work.

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