I wrote in first week of the season that the biggest difference between Derrick Rose being a 20-point scorer and a 25-point scorer would be some threes, but mostly just getting to the FT line more. What’s eerie is that I projected getting to the line more would have him scoring 24.7 PPG, he’s getting to the line more, and is scoring 24.9 PPG going into All-Star Weekend.
That said, my projection was based on less threes than he’s delightfully hitting, getting to the line eight times per games instead of six, but shooting an FT% around .750 instead of the .838 rate he’s achieved so far. There are many who see six as too little and I agree, but the trend is rising at an obscene rate:
Earlier in the season, Rose eclipsed his career three-point numbers with this season’s totals and in about two-thirds of the games, he’s about to do the same with last season’s FT numbers. There’s something new hurting his chances of getting to the line that less to do with generous calls and contorting less to draw contact, as opposed to avoiding it: he isn’t missing FTs.
Since Joakim Noah went down to thumb surgery on Dec. 17, Rose’s frequency of getting to the line skyrocketed by over 40% and his efficiency skyrocketed with it. Going from hitting 76% before Dec. 18 to 88% in the games since — in no time — made opponents pay for fouling him. Shooting 89.6% at the line since Jan. 1 with the higher quantity almost has to make teams apprehensive, confused, indecisive, at a quandary with less right answers when Rose cups decides to take off for the basket.
An elite scorer is one against whom there just isn’t a practical answer to the question of how you stop them from scoring. Hitting FTs and threes like Rose has this season has transformed him into an elite scorer very, very fast. His eFG% is still way under .525, still under .500 at .484, keeping his TS% at a very pedestrian .544. Though the eFG% is down from .495, the TS% is up from .532, so the hard work he put in all summer on his shot is paying off — exponentially.
Stats via Basketball-Reference.