Tag Archives: shooting statistics

Breaking Down The New Derrick Rose

As we rapidly approach the All-Star Break, now seems as good a time as any to check in with Derrick Rose’s latest comeback. Far too much time is spent wondering or discussing when Derrick Rose will “get back to his old level”. The fact of the matter is, Derrick is an older, more mature player now who has gone through several catastrophic seasons. We’ll never see 2010-11 Rose again and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What we can do instead is dig into the D-Rose we have now and see what we can learn.

Most talk surrounding Rose’s game (and there’s plenty of talk not about his game) this season has centered on how often he’s been shooting the three ball. The numbers unsurprisingly back this up. Rose is taking about 33% of his field goal attempts from distance this season, up from between 24-25% in 2010-12 (we’re going to ignore the numbers from Rose’s abbreviated 10 game season in 2013). While Derrick has very clearly had some hot and cold shooting streaks (he’s currently shooting net-seeking fireballs out of his hands from three), his three point percentage has averaged out to 32.2%. This is exactly on pace with Rose in 2010-11 and 2011-12, when he shot 33.2% and 31.2%, respectively, on bombs.

An uptick in threes isn’t surprising or necessarily discouraging for Rose’s game. Two major knee injuries were proof enough that his unconventional, aggressive playing style had to be altered in some way. The key is figuring out where the extra three point attempts are coming from.

We’ve established that Rose is taking threes about 9% more often this season. While most critics have argued that Rose needs to stop eschewing drives for jumpers, the reality is that his game has changed in more ways than just that (all statistics through basketball-reference).

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Although Rose is shooting threes more, he’s cut down on long two point jumpers, infamous for being the most inefficient shot in the game. While nearly 20% of Rose’s shots came as long twos (from 16 feet to the three point line) in his MVP season, he took only 16% from that distance in 2011-12 and is down to a career low 14.2% this season. Trading out long two pointers for threes is one of the best changes a player can make to his game. In this aspect, more threes from Rose is exactly what the Bulls need.

The dagger long two will always be part of Derrick’s game, but the more he trades them out for threes, the more efficient he can be. This season, Rose has converted about 32% on shots from 10-16 feet, 16 feet to the three point line, and on threes. While one would expect him to improve on the shorter attempts, the numbers clearly show that swapping out mid-range jumpers for threes will benefit the Bulls greatly.

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While the phasing out of long twos accounts for a chunk of Rose’s three pointers, a notable decrease in shots near the rim has yielded the rest. Around 30% of Rose’s shots came from there over his last two full seasons but he is only taking about 26% at the rim in 2014-15. Tom Thibodeau and Bulls fans alike want to see this number creep back toward 30%, but the reality is that it may not be in Derrick’s best interest to be that player anymore. He made 61.1% of such shots in 2010-11 and 58.2% in 2011-12, but he’s only converted on 54.2% this season. However, a new midrange weapon is worth keeping an eye on…

Amongst midrange shots, Rose’s percentages have largely stayed the same. He takes about 16% of his shots from 3-10 feet and 11% from 10-16. However, Rose has been absolutely killer in that 3-10 foot range, making 57% of his shots. There’s probably some noise in that sample, considering Rose shot 37% from there in 2010-11 and 45% in 2011-12, but it seems likely Rose’s floater has taken another step this season. Trading out barreling drives to the rim for five and seven foot floaters could be the change that helps Derrick reinvent his career.

It’s important to remember that these 35 or so games are still a pretty small sample. Still, the data shows us that Rose has made some subtle changes to his approach. As he continues to find himself and produce more consistently (hopefully), the new Derrick Rose could help take the Bulls to levels they never reached when he was MVP.

Magic Mike: Finding the Source of the Bulls’ Struggles

It is no secret that the Bulls have struggled mightily of late. The Bulls have posted a record of 4-6 in the last ten, dropping six of their last eight. The recent bout of poor play has Bulls fans searching for answers. How is it that this team, recently the winners of 13 our of 15, could suddenly fall back to earth so violently? What dramatic change has taken place that could explain this miserable start to 2015?

When I think about the Chicago Bulls’ starting five, my mind goes first to the former MVP and first overall pick Derrick Rose. I’ll think next of the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and emotional leader Joakim Noah. I think next of the new addition to the front court, the two-time champion Pau Gasol. I then think of Jimmy Butler, the guy who has incredibly gone from defensive spark plug to focal point of the offense. And to round out the top five, I think about…wait, who’s the starting small forward?

Oh yeah, Mike Dunleavy, Jr.

Dunleavy is far and away the most anonymous member of the Bulls normal starting unit. Signed as a free agent last season, Dunleavy has enjoyed moderate success in his season and a half in Chicago. Appearing in 115 games so far with the Bulls (including a full 82 last season), Dunleavy has averaged 10.8 points a game, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He has posted 43%/39%/83% shooting splits, comfortably above average but by no means numbers that jump off the page.

Could it be that Dunleavy, who has been rehabbing a jammed foot since New Years Day, is the key to the Bulls success?

Dunleavy’s area of expertise is his ability to spot up around the perimeter and knock down catch-and-shoot opportunities. Dunleavy has hit 42.4% of his catch-and-shoot triples, the eighth highest total of guys who attempt at least 3.5 such threes a night. It is this specific ability that the Bulls have sorely missed. The instant respect that Dunleavy commands around the perimeter is crucial in opening up driving lanes for Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler.

Dunleavy’s absence has shown the spotlight on a spacing issue that comes along with playing two centers. I’ve already talked about how the Noah-Gasol combination doesn’t really work, but I never appreciated how the presence of Dunleavy was keeping that pair afloat. When Dunleavy has shared the court with Pau and Joakim, the Bulls are an even 104/104 in offensive/defensive efficiency. With Hinrich in place of Dunleavy, the Bulls have a net rating of -4.1, scoring an anemic 95.8 points per 100 possessions.

What the Dunleavy injury has really done to the Bulls is force them to overextend Kirk Hinrich. In the ten games that Dunleavy has sat out, Hinrich has started eight, completing a starting lineup that has played the most minutes of any five man group in 2015. That lineup owns a depressing 92.1 offensive rating to go along with a 102.8 defensive rating. A lot of the Bulls’ critics have pointed to their inability to get off to a fast start. Look no further than Kirk Hinrich.

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Hinrich, who frequently pulls up for jumpers that have an adverse effect on my blood pressure, was actually playing alright until Dunleavy went out. He was shooting 38% from the floor and 39.5% from long range. But since Dunleavy has gone out, open shots have become harder to come by, and Hinrich’s three point shooting has plummeted to 26.7%.

Hinrich’s increased role has had additional negative ripples for the Bulls. With Kirk inserted into the starting lineup, Jimmy Butler must shift from being an overpowering shooting guard to a slightly undersized small forward. Butler’s play overall has taken a sharp downward turn in January, and while general exhaustion is certainly a valid hypothesis as to why, the absence of Dunleavy is definitely a key factor.

When Rose, Butler and Dunleavy play together, the Bulls are a net +2. Swap out Rose for Hinrich, a trio that appears worse on paper, is scoring 104 points per 100 possessions and surrendering only 98.6. The key to the success is that Butler is allowed to dominate from the shooting guard spot.

Denver Nuggets v Chicago Bulls

When Rose, Hinrich and Butler share the floor, a group that forces Butler to the three, the Bulls are a net -1.3. While that number isn’t terrible and is certainly subject to some statistical noise, allow me to look a little deeper. In games that Dunleavy has been healthy, the three guard trio has appeared in 13 games for an average of 6.5 minutes a game. They’re blowing opponents out of the water, scoring 112 points per 100 possessions and surrendering only 99. In the games Dunleavy has missed, the same trio is averaging 17.5 minutes a game and posting a -5.9 net rating.

How can Dunleavy’s injury be impacting lineup combinations he’s not even a part of? Because when Dunleavy is available, the Rose-Kirk-Butler trio is only busted out in highly advantageous matchups. It is a gimmicky grouping that can exploit certain weaknesses when they present themselves. With Dunleavy on the sideline, that trio has logged the fourth highest minutes total of any Bulls threesome, forcing it to play in situations it is not cut out to handle.

Look, I’m not saying that Dunleavy is the glue that holds the defense together. I’m not saying he deserves underground #NBABallot buzz. He’s a roll player who thrives playing for this team because he is excellent at the few things he is asked to do.

But what I am saying is that even the smallest of changes to an NBA rotation has the potential to throw a team into a downward spiral. For all the incredible front court depth the Bulls boast this year, perhaps it is shallow wing play that could do this team in. Mike Dunleavy isn’t supposed to have this big of an impact on a team that has title aspirations. And he probably doesn’t have THIS big of an impact.

That doesn’t mean he isn’t missed.