Whether or not Derrick Rose’s injured ankle is the main reason for his slow start, the reigning Rookie of the Year looks a bit timid and does not appear to be the same player who tore up the Celtics in the playoffs.
Rose has been bothered by an inflamed tendon behind his right ankle, a major discomfort that caused him to miss a huge portion of training camp and the preseason. This is supposed to be the year when Rose makes that full leap from budding star to superstar. Through 15 games, Rose’s numbers have been pedestrian: 15.6 points per game, 5.2 assists and 46% from the field.
A season ago when he was racking up some hardware, as well as accolades, Rose averaged 16.6 points and 6.3 assists in leading the Bulls to the playoffs.
Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro is also monitoring Rose’s minutes. The Bulls point guard is playing close to 34 minutes a game, compared to 36 the previous season.
During the offseason, Rose hired Rob McClanaghan as his personal shooting coach to fix his inconsistent jump shot. So far, the 5,000 or so long-range shots Rose reportedly exhausted throughout the summer have not paid off as he’s making just a paltry 16.7% of threes. For those who are keeping track, that’s 1-for-6 for the season.
Because Rose can’t push off on his right foot, his quickness is compromised and he can’t attack the basket the same way he did a year ago. And as much as he’s worked on his mid-range game, it is still not good enough to pull the defense out of the paint.
With Ben Gordon now in Detroit, the Bulls have too many drivers and not enough passengers. Rose wants to drive, John Salmons wants to drive, Luol Deng wants to drive, Tyrus Thomas wants to drive and Kirk Hinrich is more of a facilitator than a scoring guard.
No wonder the Bulls are having a hard time scoring. They are averaging 91.4 per game (27th) and shooting 43.3% (27th).
The Rose-Gordon backcourt worked because Rose can always kick it out to Gordon on his dribble penetration and Gordon’s unlimited shooting range keeps the court balanced and masks the Bulls’ lack of a low-post threat. Without a legitimate shooter on the roster, the scouting report on the Bulls is this: pack the paint and let them beat you from the outside.