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.
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.
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.