Derrick Rose’s Current Game is Scarier Than He Thinks His Game Can Be

In the first 16 games of the season, Derrick Rose has missed two games with a minor injury and has broken the 20-point plateau in a game only twice. Rose may feel his rhythm will come eventually, but nothing early on is showing that it will.


For many, Derrick Rose is still a guy that people want to see. When Rose takes the floor on a nightly basis, there’s still always that glimmer of hope that Rose can put together a throwback performance of his former self.

Then do it again.

And again.

And again.

Rose has played in 14 of the first 16 games for the Chicago Bulls this season. The two games he missed were due to a minor ankle sprain; arguably the most common of basketball injuries.

After missing two straight games against Phoenix and Golden State during the recent four-game “Circus Trip” for the Bulls, Rose returned on Nov. 24 in Portland and played 35 minutes. He did a good job of slowing down Damian Lillard on that night, helping the Bulls hold the fellow adidas spokesman to 4-of-22 shooting.

The fact still remains: Rose’s own shooting has been just as poor since his return to action. Rose has made just three of his 12 three-point attempts since Portland and has shot just 27.1 percent in those four games.

The small positive in his play is that he’s healthy for the first time in a long time … sort of.

Rose doesn’t use his vision condition as an excuse, but has mentioned that his vision on the floor isn’t what it was before having surgery to repair his orbital bone on Sept. 30.

“It don’t have nothing to do with the eye,” Rose said after the Bulls’ 99-90 win on Wednesday night. “I’m getting good looks. I’m just missing them.”

Wednesday night against Denver marked the fewest shot attempts in his career that Rose made in a single game (3) when taking at least 17 shots.

This isn’t great, nor is his shot chart of the entire season.

Scoring at the rim in countless ways was Rose’s biggest strength when he was wowing crowds on a nightly basis earlier in his career. He’s shooting 35.7 percent around the rim this season, while shooting 34.3 percent from the field as a whole. Rose has only had three games in his first 14 games where he shot 45 percent or better from the field.

Simply put, Rose has been awful in the first quarter of the season.

(A little nugget: Rose is averaging 6.1 assists per contest this season, so his proclamation during the Bulls’ media day of averaging seven-plus assists per game this season isn’t too far off so far.)

On Wednesday, there was an example of Rose shooting when it wasn’t the best option. Nikola Mirotic flashed on a cut and could have scored easily (or at least been fouled after one of his famous pump fakes).

Rose decided to pull up and shoot a three. It wasn’t strongly contested by Emmanuel Mudiay, but the fact remains that Rose has made six three-pointers all season. There’s no need for him to shoot one here, even within the first three minutes of the game.

In Rose’s defense, Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg was content with Rose’s offensive performance on Wednesday in terms of his shot selection.

“Derrick needs to take some good shots,” Hoiberg said. “He’d been hitting that bank shot, that runner. He was getting at the basket. We don’t want to take away his aggressiveness. He took two threes out of his 17 shots tonight. If he’s getting in there, in the paint, we’re comfortable with Derrick shooting those shots.”

Hoiberg’s not wrong, but taking those shots is one thing. Making those shots is another.

Another issue with Rose’s offense is his inability to get to the free throw line consistently. In eight of his 14 appearances this year, Rose has shot between 0-2 free throws in those contests. In his MVP season and the shortened season (2011-12) after, Rose averaged over six free throw attempts per game.

Sure, Rose isn’t the same explosive player he once was before his knees failed him three different times. Rose has had to alter his game because of his body. But, it’s affecting his overall performance and hasn’t allowed him to obtain any kind of flow early this season. The glimpses have been there, but the consistency has not.

“I know how much work I put into my game, and I know once I catch my rhythm, it’s going to be scary,” Rose said on Wednesday night.

(Stats via Basketball-Reference.com, Charts via NBA.com/Stats)