Is Derrick Rose Returning to His MVP Form?

Over his last seven complete games, Rose has flirted with efficiency he hasn't seen since his MVP season in 2011.

Since the 2011 season, no former number-one pick outside of Greg Oden has had more troubles staying healthy than Derrick Rose.

However, even after being banged up to start the season after breaking a bone in his face, the Chicago Bulls' point guard is starting to look more confident out on the court, and his play has been drastically improving over the last few weeks.

Outside of his hamstring flaring up in a game last Monday against the Heat, Rose has been on fire in his last seven complete games. He is averaging over 20 points per game during that stretch, and the biggest improvements have come in his efficiency.

Rose Points per Game Effective Field Goal% True Shooting%
Last 7 Complete Games 20.2 49.0 52.6
Previous 32 Games 14.7 41.0 44.5

During this seven-game stretch, Rose has a better eFG% than he did his entire MVP season, and his True Shooting Percentage is back close to where it was during his three seasons as an All-Star from 2009 to 2012 before his injuries started to hit.

While it may be an anomaly and Rose could go back to his mid 40-percent range from the field, it’s encouraging to see him finally attacking the rim more often.

Getting to the Rim

A big reason for the increases in efficiency has come with Rose almost completely abandoning the three-point shot. He has attempted only 13 threes in his last seven complete games. In the 32 other games he played this year, he was shooting 2.4 threes per game and averaging only 25 percent from beyond the arc.

His three-point attempt rate has dropped from a career high 32.5 percent last season to only 14.8 percent this season.

This is a big step for Rose because it means he is settling for outside jump shots less often and getting to the rim more. 

Just looking at his heat map on Basketball Reference tells the story. Rose is most effective when he is attacking the rim and either finishing, getting to the line, or setting up one of his teammates for what is normally a wide open shot.

While Rose has not yet started finishing within three feet like he did in his MVP season at over 60 percent, he is still shooting 52 percent from inside three feet this season.

Rose’s Midrange Rebirth

Another huge improvement from an efficiency standpoint has been Rose’s midrange game.

A midrange shot used to be non-existent in his first four years in the league, but Rose’s injuries have seemingly forced him to become more of a threat from midrange. In addition to his high floaters while driving into the lane, his improving bank shot from 10 to 16 feet has been stellar so far this season.

SeasonDistancePercentage of Field GoalsField Goal Percentage
2014-1510 to 16 Feet10.7%28.1%
2015-1610 to 16 Feet22.6%52.1%

If Rose can continue his hot shooting in those areas of the floor, he really doesn’t need to attempt many three-pointers. Just by getting into the paint or even near it is enough for most defenses to break down some, leading to open teammates for Rose to find.

His assist numbers haven’t been as high during this seven-game surge, but when you’re as hot as Rose has been over the last two weeks, it’s hard to pass the ball. Rose has attempted 128 shots in his last seven complete games, which is over 20 percent of his shots for this entire season so far through 40 total games played.

If this stretch is truly just a blip on the radar, then Rose owners should really think about selling high. He still has a nERD of -8.5 on the year, which is the fifth worst nERD of any player, with only Joe Johnson, D'Angelo Russell, Kobe Bryant and Emmanuel Mudiay having lower numbers.

However, if you think Rose’s play over the last two weeks mean’s he is finally getting his strength, quickness and efficiency back, his value could continue to go up as we enter the month of February.

While the Bulls still have a slightly worse team Offensive Rating with Rose on the court (103) compared to when he is off (104.6), if he continues playing like he has in the last two weeks, that will quickly change. He has shot above 50 percent from the floor in four of his last seven complete games, compared to just four times in his previous other 32 games.

Rose will have some time off to rest for the All-Star Break and to get his hamstrings and knees a much-needed week off. If the Bulls are going to have any chance of beating the Cavaliers in a potential playoff matchup, Rose has to continue his play from the last seven games through the last half of the season and into the playoffs.