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Why D.Rose is Shooting 37% in the Post-Season So Far

May 2, 2011

D. Rose isn't *that* bad of a shooter. Really. (Photo Credit: bleacherreport.com)

Sometimes I listen to sports radio while I’m at work and this morning, while waiting for NBA-related podcasts to make their way online, “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” was set on a low volume in the background.  I don’t often listen to him because I think he is more bombastic than I’d prefer but I tuned in because Jeff Van Gundy made a guest appearance.

Before Van Gundy came on the air, Colin outlined his theory as to why smaller and faster playmakers who also have scoring ability tend to have trouble in post-seasons.  His examples?  Michael Vick, Allen Iverson, and Derrick Rose.  His rationale?  These are guys who can make big impact during the regular season but because of the intensity and physicality of the post-season, and because these guys are responsible for a significant part of their team’s offense (in the Michael Vick case, it’s because of Vick’s ability to run the ball), teams will defend them with extra bumps and bruises.  As a result, according to Colin, the team cannot replicate its regular season success in the post-season.

In the case of D.Rose, Colin walked through each of D.Rose’s post-season shooting percentages to show that without “strong guard protection” (i.e. another guard), D.Rose’s performance has been greatly affected and he’ll just be another Allen Iverson.  In his logic, he said you can throw bodies at D.Rose and Indiana laid a “blueprint” for beating the Bulls.  In D.Rose’s first season, he had Ben Gordon and in his second season, he had Kirk Hinrich (never mind the fact that Ben Gordon couldn’t stay in front of anyone and Kirk Hinrich clunks more 3-pointers than I do) to help D.Rose keep up his shooting percentage.

So, um, Colin?

Maybe you should take a look at how the composition of D.Rose’s shot selection has changed – you might notice that he’s shooting a lot more 3-pointers this season.  You can’t really compare his shooting percentages because he’s not shooting the same shots.  Regardless, let’s take a quick look at how D.Rose is shooting when you remove his long-distance attempts.  (Mind you, I’m very aware of the fact that we are looking at relatively small sample sizes for the post-season.)

If you remove the three 3-pointers that D.Rose drilled in the 3rd qtr of Game 5, he'd be shooting 5-34 (15%) from 3-point land so far in the playoffs. Awesome. (Original data: hoopsstats.com)

At the end of the day, D.Rose used to shoot a lot of long two-pointers and his offense looks different now that he’s added a decent 3-point shot.  Part of the impact of (newly minted) Coach-of-the-Year Thibs is that he told D.Rose to take a step back and to shoot a 3-pointer instead of a 2-pointer.  Yes, a 3-pointer is a riskier shot but when you make it, you cash in 50% more points.  Did he take way too many during the Pacers series?  For someone who shot them at 22%?  Yes.  Does that mean he should stop taking them?  Not necessarily.  The challenge for the Bulls will be to make sure that he is taking smarter shots because if he’s not making those 3s, it leaves the team vulnerable – it’s easier for the other team to rebound the ball and then get out on a fast-break opportunity.

I should also note that D.Rose is also known for taking a lot of end-of-quarter half-court heaves.  Obviously, these are very low percentages shots but you take them because they essentially represent an extra possession for the team – if you make it, 3 bonus points.  If you miss, only thing that happens it that you lower your shooting percentage for the evening/season.  D.Rose doesn’t care about his shooting percentage so he’ll always take that shot.  What it does, though, is to introduce extra attempts that can skew his stats.  Do the Bulls need a better 2-guard?  Yes.  Has Derrick Rose’s job become exponentially harder without another guard by his side?  I think we need the answer to what is ailing Carlos Boozer before we answer this question.

When Van Gundy came on, he said that the Bulls might face challenges because “regular season is a test of your basketball character” while the postseason is “a test of your basketball talent”, not because of D.Rose’s shooting percentages.  After all, he concluded that the Bulls are ok with D.Rose shooting a lower percentage if it means the Bulls win 4-1 and that the Pacers series really proved that the Pacers were better than an 8 seed but perhaps not much more.

Personally, I don’t think the Bulls will get far without basketball character or basketball talent.  Thibs COY award shows that the Bulls are in no shortage of basketball character; if the Bulls are still finding a way to win even with D.Rose shooting terribly, one has to think that perhaps the Bulls have a little more basketball talent than people assumed…

-Jocelyn

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