Why Derrick Rose Needs to Continue Attacking the Rim

The Chicago Bulls have lost three of their last four games, but Derrick Rose is starting to look like Derrick Rose again.

The Chicago Bulls have lost three of their last four games, and the dog days of January seem to be in full effect. However while the Bulls are struggling on defense and giving up points in the paint in bunches, a subtle storyline has emerged: Derrick Rose is starting to look like Derrick Rose again.

It’s not complete yet, but after taking nearly two years off, Rose is showing glimpses of the point guard that the league fell in love with four years ago.

Just looking at Rose’s averages doesn’t tell the entire story, though. He is shooting 40% from the field this season and just 25% from beyond the arc. However, the Bulls need an aggressive Rose to open things up for the budding Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol, who is coming off of a career-night in a Chicago uniform. Whether he is making shots or not, the Bulls offense doesn’t work as well when Rose isn’t shooting about 16-18 times per game.

But it’s not just the volume. When Rose was at his best, he was attacking the basket. Since his knee injuries, he has seemed almost timid, opting to pull up for a long jump shot or three-pointer instead of driving straight to the rim. When Rose won his MVP, he shot nearly 30% of his shots inside of three feet, where he made 61% of his attempts. This season Rose is taking a career high 32% of his shots from beyond the three-point line, and he is also averaging a career high in the average distance of his field goal attempts at 14 feet.

However, with a New Year comes a new Rose, and all of a sudden, after suffering through one of the worst shooting slumps in his career, Rose is starting to turn things around. He is driving to the rim and making those circus shots that made him famous. He is also starting to regain that deadly floater from inside of 10 feet, and it’s starting to show in his January numbers.

Rose is shooting just 30% from the floor in the month of January -- six games -- but inside of 10 feet, he is shooting 47%. On shots farther than 10 feet, Rose is shooting just 22% in those six games. He is also shooting fewer three-pointers this month, and he is finally starting to shoot more inside shots than outside.

Despite his bad shooting to start the season, Rose is still shooting a career high 57% between 3 and 10 feet. The crazier stat may be that he is shooting close to a career low on shots inside of 3 feet, and only making 34% of his shots from outside of ten feet. This is probably just an anomaly or another sign of the rust that Rose has to shake off, and his averages could improve around the rim if he continues to get to the hoop.

But imagine if Rose starts making some more of those outside shots. His career average outside of ten feet is 42%, and even if he can just increase his outside shooting to above 40%, the Bulls are going to be very difficult to beat. When he is making shots at the rim, it forces defenders to come off the ball, and it leaves the wealth of Bulls options open. Making outside shots will force defenders to not go under screens, which will leave driving lanes and teammates wide open.

In addition to his shooting, Rose also has seven or more assists in three of the Bulls’ last six games. This is significant because he has only four games prior to January 1st with seven or more assists.

Rose is also starting to get to the free throw line more, which is also one of the reasons his true shooting percentage has been slowly rising. His free throw attempt rate this year (.241) is closing in on his career average (.278), and in games where he gets to the line four or more times, the Bulls are 11-2.

If these trends continue, don’t expect the Bulls’ or Rose’s slumps to continue for much longer.