Bulls

A more aggressive Derrick Rose benefiting Bulls

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A more aggressive Derrick Rose benefiting Bulls

 

Derrick Rose had his best outside shooting performance of the season in Thursday's win over the Thunder, connecting on five of his 11 attempts taken outside the painted area. Four of those makes came in the decisive fourth quarter, including three makes during his 10-point stretch in the game's final minutes as the Bulls pulled away for a 104-96 victory.

Rose has admitted that the double vision he's playing with has made it increasingly more difficult to take outside shots, which could be a blessing in disguise for the Bulls; Rose has yet to make a 3-pointer in nine tries, but those nine attempts in six games are noteworthy considering he hoisted nine triples by the end of the Bulls' second game a year ago.

Instead, Rose is attacking. Whether it's the double vision keeping him from shooting jumpers or him having more confidence in his knees after his first healthy offseason in four years, early in the year the Bulls point guard is finding his way to the paint, and it's paying off.

Thursday night Rose drove to the basket a season-high 14 times, per NBA.com's SportVU data. On those drives to the basket he went 6-for-9 and made three trips to the free throw line. He also made one pass on those 14 drives, finding Jimmy Butler for a dunk midway through the second quarter.

[GOODWILL: Judged every game, Rose turns in his best of the season]

Rose's aggressiveness toward the basket was a sight for sore eyes, as his drive attempts had decreased in each game since opening night, when he logged 11 drives in a win over the Cavaliers. But it's that style of play that wasn't seen as often a year ago that leaves plenty of room for optimism that Rose, while it may not be in MVP form, is getting back to his old ways.

As of Friday morning, Rose ranked fourth in the NBA with 5.5 field goal attempts coming off drives. On those field goal attempts - and subsequent free throw opportunities - he has averaged 7.7 points per game, accounting for nearly 58 percent of his 13.3 points per game. Those points per game rank fifth in the NBA, and his 51.5 field goal percentage on those attempts is 11th in the NBA. For reference, he's sandwiched between LeBron James (52.5%) and Russell Westbrook (51.4%) in that category. Not bad company.

And while six games makes for an incredibly small sample size, Rose's Rose's 9.3 drives per game - 12th most in the NBA - are two more than the 7.3 drives he took last season. While he's yet to make a 3-pointer he's also attempting just 1.5 triples per game, far fewer than the career-high 5.3 he averaged a season ago.

[MORE: Win over Thunder shows 'the guys really care']

It's also worth noting that Rose has averaged 58.2 passes per game, up from the 53.8 he averaged a year ago. Five or so extra passes may not seem like a lot, but combined with the two fewer field goal attempts per game he's averaging has made for a more efficient Rose, even while his field goal percentage stands below 40 percent.

All the kinks haven't been worked out less than two weeks into the season, as Rose is still dealing with the aforementioned double vision while figuring out how to play within Fred Hoiberg's offensive system. But the early returns have Rose playing more aggressively than he did a year ago, finding better looks and looking to attack rather than settle for outside jumpers. His mid-range game brought home a victory Thursday night, but it's Rose's increased drives to the basket that have freed up the offense and allowed him to find better looks.

The narrative has been that Rose's vision problems while shooting the ball has forced him to become a facilitator, and his assists are up from a year ago. However, those vision problems have also turned him loose as an attacker, more like the "vintage" Rose of old.

 

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Hub Arkush (ProFootball Weekly) and Jason Goch (SB Nation) join Kap on the panel.

The guys debate which team will finish with a higher draft pick when the season ends: Bulls or Blackhawks?

Plus, hear their reaction to the MLB’s new pace-of-play rule change.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: