Derrick Rose, The Shooting Guard?

Derrick Rose, The Shooting Guard?
Derrick Rose grabs a ball during warmups prior to Thursday's game against the Trail Blazers. (Anthony Souffle, Chicago Tribune)

So long as Derrick Rose has been in the NBA, questions have always surrounded his legitimacy as a point guard capable of running an intricate offense. Forced into a heavy scoring role from the outset, which only continued to expand as his star grew, Rose has faced many external questions claiming his best position in the NBA would be at shooting guard, where he could focus his energy entirely on scoring and deferring any play-making responsibilities to a sidekick.

For year's, suggestions of moving Rose from point guard to shooting guard were heavily mocked, but as K.C. Johnson recently noted, this once laughable notion may be a possibility moving forward for the Bulls.

The Bulls were fully prepared to draft a point guard last June before Bobby Portis unexpectedly slipped to them at No. 22. Those plans likely will be put back in motion this summer, either to safeguard against Rose's departure in 2017 free agency or perhaps to move Rose to off guard and Butler back to small forward.

Though this option has yet to be set in stone, the legitimacy of this plan makes little sense if adopted as a full time strategy.

Suppose the Bulls were to move Jimmy Butler to small forward to accommodate Rose's presence at shooting guard, in order to facilitate this transformation, several assets would need to be used to acquire both a starting point guard who fits next to Chicago's current backcourt, but also several backup guards to support the Bulls' bench unit.

With an ability to open up $24 million in cap space in the 2016 offseason, the Bulls could be armed with enough room in their cap to find a starting caliber point guard that would allow Rose to shift to shooting guard. This may sound simple enough - particularly when strapped with millions to spend - but very few options exist in free agency.

Mike Conley, currently injured and out for the rest of the season, will lead the point guard free agency market, though is expected to remain in Memphis. After Conley, the point guard market rapidly grows thin.

Rajon Rondo will be available, as will Deron Williams. Once great, perennial All-Stars, like Rose, both have succumb to injuries that have claimed their best days. Combo guards such as Jordan Clarkson, Jeremy Lin and Brandon Jennings are also set to test the market, though none represent a starting fit next to Butler and Rose.

Should free agency fail to yield a quality point guard, as Johnson suggests, the Bulls may look to draft a guard, as were the plans prior to selecting big man Bobby Portis in the 2015 NBA Draft. Set to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009, the Bulls are projected to hold draft selection No. 14.

Wade Baldwin, a 6'3" sophomore point guard from Vanderbilt, could be an option for the Bulls in the first-round. Despite his shooting potential and impressive physical tools, Baldwin will be a 20-year-old guard who will be learning the most difficult position when his NBA career commences. Slating him - or any other point guard rookie guard, for that matter - may be sound for future year's, though it won't assist the process of moving Rose to shooting guard in the short term.

Even if the Bulls could find themselves landing a quality point guard to pair with Rose and Butler, would this be a wise tactical decision?

Fred Hoiberg has already struggled to balance the your-turn, my-turn approach from his lead guards. Therefore, adding another player who commands and dominates the ball from the point guard position would only add to the chemistry complexities that the Bulls already face.

More importantly, how would shifting both Rose and Butler to the wing help Hoiberg instill his offensive principles given their already troubled shooting abilities? Therein lies the problem with the Rose and Butler dynamic: the lack of shooting and fit is not only an issue between the pair, it also impacts the entire make up of the roster.

Revisiting the available free agents point guards of 2016, very few are knock down shooters from deep, which would make a pairing with Rose and Butler problematic. Traditionally, under both Thibodeau and Hoiberg, the Bulls have often dedicated one of their perimeter positions to a jump shooting wing. Mike Dunleavy has filled in admirably, but the search continues for the elusive player capable of fulfilling the 3-and-D role within the offense.

Shifting Rose and Butler up a position would lead to the redundancy of the 3-and-D wing, forcing a player like Dunleavy out of the starting unit in favor of a newly acquired guard, which would only exacerbate the Bulls' shooting woes.

Given the importance of this role in spacing the floor in the Bulls' offense to ease the pressure of dribble penetration, removing it from the equation would only continue to hamper Chicago's lack of presence from outside the 3-point line within its starting unit. It would also mitigate the ability of the bench unit to support it's starting core with a plug-and-play, long-range attack.

Assuming Rose and Butler were to spend the majority of their minutes at shooting guard and small forward, this would mean less time for E'Twaun Moore and Doug McDermott, who are the Bulls top two, 3-point shooters, respectively. This would realistically only leave the Bulls with the Nikola Mirotic at the power forward position as it's main source of outside shooting, which has proven to be inconsistent at best.

Knowing this, it is critical for Gar Forman to implement a roster structure with elite shooting from the point guard and power forward position before reducing the roles of your best two shooters for an already anemic 3-point offense. With much of Rose and Butler's success as a duo predicated on the abilities of those around them as much as their own, relying heavily on two positions to provide the bulk of the outside shooting for the Bulls is a risk in the modern NBA game, therefore it's paramount that puzzle pieces fit perfectly to justify this potential strategy.

To date, that has yet to happen. Forman has failed to assist Fred Hoiberg in building a roster that best supports his offensive plan. With a potential $24 million budget in free agency and $21.3 million owed to Derrick Rose next season, investing even more salary into multiple point guard options to support the transition of Rose to shooting guard makes little sense.








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  • Nice article and analysis!

    It will be interesting to see if we can improve our situation this summer and then on the court next year...actually missing the playoffs this year is a good thing as the FO can't easily justify them not making the playoffs with their talent but unathletic, old, and injury filled roster!
    Time for a reboot. I have enjoyed DRose's early years with the Bulls...but the ship has sailed and I would be happy if the Bulls could ship Rose away this summer so as to not have 1 more year of Rose and Butler Alpha Dog mentality...I would even welcome a starting unit of:

  • In reply to smiley:

    I don't think you can have McDermott and Niko on the court together very much. That would be two guys who can't guard anyone. I actually hope they trade Niko. He is great to watch when he is hitting shots, but his defense is horrible and his offense is to inconsistent. I don't know if he will ever be reliable enough to be more than a reserve, and the Bulls have Portis for that role.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    totally agree, cannot have Niko and little dougie jarhead on the floor at the same time. Right now neither is a starter, not sure that either will ever be. The Bulls should actively look to trade both Rose and Niko this summer.

    Mark Schanowski proposed a Niko and the Bulls first to Philly for Okafor. I'd like to expand that and go after Saric. Philly loves future draft picks, so how about Niko our first and the last year of the Sacto pick for Okafor and the rights to Saric. Saric is reputed to be a tough competitor if not as good a shooter as Niko, enough with the Europussy's. Wouldn't mind snagging Covington also to add some length and athleticism to our wing position.

    Speaking of which, did anybody catch the hilarious play with about 4 minutes left in the game when both Niko and Gulliver bounced off of Zack Randolph then fell over each other out while toppling out of bounds and landing on each other while Randolph just stood there and drained the easy bucket as if nothing happened. A video is worth a million words, a perfect representation of the Gasol era, hopefully the end of it as well as the Niko era too.

    Don't know why, but there are always rumors about Ricky Rubio being on the outs in Minny, how about Rose for Rubio, a true pg, who still can't shoot, but should fit the Bulls better (whatever Hoiball is), make his teammates better and is about as good as it gets defensively at the pg position.

    We need a massive rebuild after the collapse of the entire team over the past 2 years. Get rid of Gasol, Rose, Niko, Dunleavy, Snell, Brooks and even Noah unless he comes back for one year on a team friendly deal. Keep Butler, Portis, Moore(at the right price), Felicio and little dougie(one more year) and at this point maybe Taj too.

  • I feel like the only logical move to make now is to trade Butler. As sad as that makes me, because I love Butler's game, it seems like the best way to move forward. Get as many first round picks from Boston as you can get and start the rebuild. If they could get two or three first round picks from Boston in this years draft (two of which are lottery picks) to go along with their own lottery pick and a potential pick from the Kings, that rebuild would be off to a great start. Moving Rose to SG could work, but it seems like his lack of a three point shot would make it hard to spread the floor.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    Moving Rose to SG can work if he is surrounded by shooters.

    I agree that moving Butler is tough... a great two-way player. Tough. Molded by Thibs. But, he has value...

    And, Rose and Butler cannot coexist. Neither are great shooters. There will be absolutely no driving lanes and no space inside if you want them playing off the ball at the 2 and 3. No defenders will respect their outside shot. Rose is better at PG since he must be guarded - although, with a PG and SF that can shoot, I'd be open to moving him to SG.

    I would trade Rose, Butler, or both in order to let Hoiberg install and run his offensive system. Even if we keep Butler, he is a ball stopper and not suited to the system.

  • If Butler is traded to Boston for this year's Brooklyn pick and possibly one of the three remaining Brooklyn picks, I'd be ok with the move.

    Hield or Murray are both excellent Hoiberg system guys. I've watched about every Kentucky game this season and Murray plays well off the ball and in a Golden State type of system where the ball hops from one player to the next. Calipari held Towns and Booker back bigtime last season based on how they look in the NBA this year - and I bet Murray will be a solid NBA player also.

    I would NOT touch Simmons. Trade down all the way before taking him - his team, with other McD's All-Americans completely fell apart and he was not liked by teammates. I love Ingram, although he loves to hold the ball like Butler.

  • In reply to Granby:

    We discussed this on the latest episode of Dennis Podman. If the Bulls were somehow able to deal with the Celtics and land that 4th pick (as it stands now), Murrary has to be the guy.

    Outside of the top 2 guys, his potential and intrigue outway any other prospect in my eyes. Just seems like a player made for today's game.

  • Neither Rose or Butler can shoot threes. Mirotic I still think has potential to be a quality starter or sixth man, but the right coach and defensive system would have to be in place. Though I can understand why some would want to trade Niko if the proper piece(s) came back.

    It takes time to achieve success, but my bottom line is that I see no leadership from Hoiberg or repoire with the players. Granted I never saw it with Thibodeau either so maybe a bias on my part. My gut feeling is though that Hoiberg is not the answer, but frankly right now I'm more concerned with getting a more balanced roster.

    Somebody mentioned Jamal Murray, and while he doesn't have quite the physical tools of a Devon Booker, I still think he's going to be a potent NBA scorer. The draft fantasies as usual will not happen. Personally though, I wouldn't be shocked if Jamal Murray ends up having as good as or better career then Simmons or Ingram. I really have my concerns about Simmons by the way. Ingram we know will be a scorer in the league.

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    Rose has got to go. He not only cannot shoot 3's. He cannot pass, and has no court vision. Rose kills offensive team cohesion.
    What starting PG is worse than Rose? Name one. I bet you cannot.

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