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Derrick Rose Now Gets Superstar Calls

by Ricky O'Donnell on February 9, 2011 at 12:56PM

You didn't need to have John Hollinger's astronaut computer at your side to correctly identify Derrick Rose's weaknesses heading into Year Three: poor outside shooting, poor defense, not enough free throw attempts.

Rose crossed out the first problem immediately: he told us in the off-season he'd be able to shoot three's, and he came out doing just that. Rose hit 32 three's in his first two years combined; he's already got 78 in 49 games this season, and is connecting on them at a 36.5 percent clip. That qualifies as improvement, and it's stark enough to end with an exclamation point. The defensive issue is trickier -- the human eye can always be deceiving, and the numbers that try to capture performance on the other end of the court aren't easily accessible or without flaw. Anecdotally, Rose's defense certainly looks much improved since Vinny Del Negro's two-year internship expired, and the team stats (even sans Noah) back it up. We learned recently that the individual metrics are on-board now, too. Cross another off the list: Derrick Rose is no longer a bystander on defense.

The final obstacle was those damn free throw attempts. Hollinger led the charge, writing that it was keeping Rose from becoming an elite player. I found that assessment a bit laughable, though I'm sure highlighting team wins and significant jumps in layman statistics like points per game and assists per game would make one no better than those who first rejected "MoneyBall". This isn't meant to say that Hollinger is a be-all-end-all for "right vs. wrong", or even that his niche in the advanced basketball statistics community is the most far-reaching. "MoneyBall" was the word of God; the upper-basketball stats that a lot of different people are exploring recently seems more like a way to open new avenues for debate.

When the stat people (stat nerds!) talk, though, I'll surely listen. Today at Basketball Prospectus, Kevin Pelton writes that Derrick Rose has been getting to the line much more frequently in the last two months. He uses fancy numbers and everything to back it up. The entire thing is worth a read.

Despite seeing his shooting decline both inside and outside the arc, Rose's shooting efficiency has improved entirely because of the free throw line--both his ability to get there and his accuracy on freebies. That's fueled the uptick in Rose's winning percentage. Still, this might not do justice to the importance of Rose's newfound ability to get to the free throw line.

Pelton checked Hoop Data's shot-location numbers,and concluded that this isn't a case of Rose getting to the rim more often: his attempts from in close have actually declined since the December 10 game we're using as a starting point. Instead, Rose's improvement in free throw attempts likely comes from the fact that he's now getting the league's superstar treatment. The refs wouldn't give D. Rose a borderline call before; lately, they have been.

It reminded me a video Sham Sports cooked up after Game 1 of the first round playoff series against the Cavs last year. Just look at all these calls Rose wasn't getting.

It seems like those days are gone. Derrick Rose shoots a respectable amount of free throws now. He also drains three's and D's up. I'm not terribly passionate about the MVP debate, but if you want delve into it, look no further than the major improvements he's made in his three biggest areas of weakness. Credit inner motivation and off-season hustle, credit Thibs, credit the rest of the league catching up with what Chicago has known for a long time.

Bill Simmons used to like to write about players taking The Jump, and Rose has certainly made it this year. When Derrick Rose's career is over, it's likely that we'll pinpoint Year Three as the most vital of his career. This isn't meant as a playoff rallying cry, or even a "Bring it on, Boston and Miami" challenge. I'm just saying: enjoy this. It's awesome to watch, and we're so, so fortunate that it's happening in front of us.

14 Comments | Leave a comment

The crazy thing is that even after his poor start to the season, in terms of getting to the line, he's still amongst the leaders in FTA (16th in the league)

I wish all NBA games were called like that video from Sham. I dislike the superstar calls
/Am well aware that Jordan benefited from superstar calls

In mute, I got to about the :54 mark of that video -- man, that pissed me off. I remember 0% caring at the time, but wow... dat's sum bullshit.

I am anxiously awaiting Ricky's decision in the case of Favorite White Sox Player Ever v. Favorite Controversial Athlete of the Moment.


Where do you stand, Rick? If Mark Buehrle wills it, should it not be so? But at what cost?

Dude, I had that story bookmarked for a.m. post tomorrow. Right up my alley.

Buerhle's wife came into Sears every once and a while and let me tell ya, she would be a milf if she was older. Instead she is just a smokin' hot babe and real friendly too.

Seriously. If only Tyrus Thomas could find a way to wiggle himself into this story...

Many thanks to the person who made this post, this was very informative for me. Please continue this awesome work. Sincerely…


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