Derrick Rose: Why Bulls Fans Shouldn’t Panic Over His Poor FIBA Performance

Aug 1, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; USA Team Blue guard Derrick Rose (41) shoots the ball during the USA Basketball Showcase at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 1, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; USA Team Blue guard Derrick Rose (41) shoots the ball during the USA Basketball Showcase at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

Derrick Rose is back—sort of. He’s been playing with Team USA in FIBA, but he hasn’t been at MVP level. In fact, he hasn’t been at an NBA level.

This has Chicago Bulls fans rushing to beat the panic button into a fine plastic powder. Simmer down, Bulls fans; simmer down.

More from Chicago Bulls

It’s not that bad.

I know, you’ve heard all the scary numbers and even scarier reports. He nearly suffered from career-ending knee soreness and had to sit out one game. He’s only shooting 25 percent from the field. He’s turning over the ball nearly as often as he’s getting assists.

To listen to the ominous reports one would think that all hope is lost, and the sun will never rise again in the Windy City. It’s seems the philosophy is: If you’re not overreacting, you’re underreacting. The numbers, though, aren’t nearly so ominous. Let’s look through some of them to calm everyone down.

The Number: 1

The first number to note is the loneliest number: one. That’s the number of successful 3-point shots Rose has made on 10 attempts. That’s admittedly woefully low, but bear in mind the denominator, not just the numerator. The number 10 isn’t that big, either. Yes, he’s taking two 3-point attempts per game and missing both of them.

To hear some of the panic-stricken, you would think that Rose believes himself to be the next Stephen Curry and he’s hurling up 3s with reckless abandon, even though they go sailing harmlessly past the backboard.

It’s bad. It’s just not that bad. Granted, if he’s still shooting 10 percent form deep after the All-Star break, we might have a problem on our hands, but for now, it’s just a few attempts. He’s 1-of-10, not 10-of-100, people. Settle down.

The Number: 7

Rose is not faring much better from two, having gone just 7-of-22 inside the 3-point line. Rose has consistently missed shots we’re used to see him make, including a missed dunk and a number of layups.

“It’s just like last year!” You’ve probably heard—or even made—that complaint. Yes, after another nine months of not playing he is just as rusty as he was after 15 months of not playing.

Why is that a shock to anyone? Was not playing more supposed to shake off the rust acquired from not playing before?

Rose’s game is predicated on two things: his explosiveness and timing, and both those things need to be present in order for him to be successful. The former is indicative of where he’s at physically and mentally. The second can only come with playing time.

His explosiveness measures what his current ceiling is. His field-goal percentage measures how far away he is from it, but it’s a dynamic thing, not a fixture. It might be hard to believe, but Rose getting to the rim is far better than if he were spotting up from mid-range and shooting 50 percent.

If that’s what he were doing, there’d be concerns that he couldn’t do more.

And this is what Bulls fans need to realize: Don’t worry about what he is doing, worry about what he can do. And what he’s shown is that he can get back to the same level he was at before he was injured. It’s just going to take time. Don’t worry that he’s not making it when he gets to the rim. Be happy that he’s making it there.

Derrick Rose is ready to break out at the FIBA World Cup. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Derrick Rose is ready to break out at the FIBA World Cup. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The Numbers: 1.5 and 9.0

Rose has had just 12 assists and eight turnovers, but that’s not as bad as it seems either. In his first game he had five turnovers and three assists. In his second game he accumulated two more turnovers and no assists.

Since then he’s had nine assists, and his only turnover was a pass in the paint to Kenneth Faried that had too much mustard on it. So, in his last three games his assist-to-turnover ratio is 9.0, which is a far sight better than 1.5.

It’s silly to take that number and make it predictive of anything, though. Just like it’s silly to project anything from his less impressive numbers.

But that small sample size illustrates what we’re looking for: improvement. Bulls fans need to not get caught up in the last moment. Just because he dunked doesn’t mean’s “He’s baaaaaaack!!!” and if he misses the dunk, it doesn’t mean “he’s done.” The season is going to be a process. Let it play out.

The Number: 1,000

Here’s the number you should be looking for: 1,000. Counting the three exhibition games that Rose played prior to the start of the World Cup, he’s competed in eight games. In the five FIBA contests he’s played, he’s accumulated just 89 minutes.

Some are asking, “When is Rose going to get rid of the rust,” as though 89 minutes in five games is more than enough time to get back from what is essentially a two-year absence. Realistically, what timeframe should Bulls fans be looking at? ESPN insider, Kevin Pelton studied how long it takes players to return form injury, and how Rose did in his brief return last season:

"Instead, the numbers show that players coming back from ACL injuries are at their worst in their first handful of games on the court before quickly improving back to near normal.This shows up most dramatically in terms of shooting percentage, which was Rose’s biggest issue. During his first four seasons, Rose made 48.9 percent of his 2-point attempts. In the 10 games he played last season, he shot just 35.9 percent on 2s.On average, as the chart (below) shows, players coming back from ACLinjuries shoot 5.4 percent worse on 2-pointers over their first 10 games than their projection from my SCHOENE projection system, which uses performance over the previous three seasons adjusted for the development of similar players at the same age.They shoot about as well as expected from beyond the arc, which is also consistent with Rose, who made a career-best 34 percent of his 3-pointers in 2013-14."

Games2P%Exp. 2P%Diff%
Field-Goal Percentage Returning from ACL Injuries

Yes, Rose is playing horribly, but he’s supposed to be playing horribly. You might argue that he’s shooting far worse through his first 10 games than the numbers in Pelton’s table, and you’d be accurate, but you have to factor the usage rate in there, too. He’s attempted 32 shots over five games in 89 sporadic minutes, usually as third or fourth option.

It’s understandable that he’s behind even that low bar in his return. He needs time on the court to get back in rhythm. So what is a more realistic expectation of when he should be back to normal? Based on Pelton’s research, around 40 games. And if you estimate an average of 25 minutes each one, it comes out to 1,000 minutes. That means that Rose should be about 0.89 percent of the way back. That’s why it’s extremely premature to panic.

The Number: 34.4

An encouraging note has been Rose’s play on the defensive end. He has clearly gotten stronger and better at fighting over picks. He’s been consistently burrowing through them, a weakness he formerly had due to … well … weakness.

The added muscle is helping Rose there. He’s been aggressive on the ball, and more aware off the ball. And that shows up in the numbers, too.

In spite of his woeful offensive play, he leads the three USA point guards in plus/minus per 36 minutes with 34.4 due to his tremendous play on the defensive end. He’s been the one consistent presence Team USA has had on the perimeter.

At least on that end, there’s something to be encouraged about. That he can still be impacting the game without doing anything worthy on offense should be an encouragement. Stop panicking Bulls fans. I’m not going to tell you that Rose isn’t playing badly in Spain; he is. But every minute he sucks over there is a minute he doesn’t have to suck over here.

It’s another minute he’s shaking off rust and getting back to normal. That’s why it’s such a positive that he’s playing whenever and however he can. Give him at least a full month in the NBA before pounding on the panic button.

Until then, settle down, be glad he’s playing at all, and just pretend that Pau Gasol is going to continue his fantastic play in Chicago. It’ll prolong your life.