Friday notes: Practice progress, Watson's struggles, Rose's heaves

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Bulls practiced on Friday, Rose participated a bit, Rip Hamilton even a smaller bit. Again, we can't believe Thibs, or Rose himself, on this stuff. And if that's frustrating to me, imagine how our poor beat writers feel, resorting to 'hunches' as to when Rose or Rip will play. You heard it there first. -yfbb

Is the condensed schedule getting to C.J. Watson?

He's shooting 25.7% from the field (19-for-74, .338 eFG%) with only ten free throw attempts (6-for-10, 60%) and 17 shots at the rim (hitting only six, 35.3%) over the last five games. He's hit seven of his last 15 3s, but throughout Watson's career, he's had such a higher quantity of FTAs than shots at the rim because his agility makes him so difficult to defend when he penetrates.

Compare to shooting a .525 eFG% in his first 17 games and current season rates of 2.1 FTAs per game to 1.6 shots at the rim. Sure, he's still averaging two FTAs over these five games, but twice as many shots per game at the rim in 150% of the minutes should get him to the line more, thereby raising his efficiency.

With more minutes and the four starts over this span, the numbers were obviously going to fluctuate. Against bench units, Watson obviously exploits weaker help than against starters. But he has the skills and approach to the game very capable of effectively penetrating through and using the perimeter to move opposing defenses.

He's best when he's switching gears, as opposed to erratic on full-blast and looks lost at a slower pace. He almost needs to switch gears from possession-to-possessions to seek out ways to exploit opposing defenses, and that first step isn't coming very quick over the last week, allowing defenses to attack him.

His early-season injury had nothing to do with the lower body, and there's no question he can still shoot. But to irritate defenses and be effective, his attack needs more quickness. Being at home and not having to fly around the country should get his lower body strength back to normal fast. Hopefully, that's the only problem.

He's still having on pace for very impressive career highs in points per 36 minutes (16.6), three-point percentage (46%), usage rate (23.6%), assist rate (29.1%), and player efficiency rating (17.4). His approach to the game is better then it's ever been this season -- moving his long-2 shots past the 3-point line, hitting a higher rate of 3s, and assisting at a higher rate than ever since joining the Bulls, as a pleasant surprise to backing up Derrick Rose.

  • Rose's .310 3P% jumps up to .333 this season when all shots over 35 feet are eliminated. Last season's jumps from .332 to .351. You're welcome, comment section. Maybe a new stat called "True Three-Point Percentage", abbreviated to T3P%, ought to be developed. but I'm still with Ethan Sherwood's Strauss' suggestion that half-to-fullcourt buzzer-beater misses should be treated in the data as we do missed shots that send the shooter to the foul line: only count the makes. [I can't find it now, but earlier in the season Sam Smith speculated this modification would raise Rose's 3pt% 10 percentage points, ha -yfbb]
  • Lucas identifies with the underdogs like Jeremy Lin. Sure, there's no Lucasanity to match the Linsanity and Lin is the more promising player, but guys like Lucas and Lin land year-long spots on a roster and they've finally proven something of themselves that other front offices, coaches, and scouting staffs didn't recognize. He says he followed Lin at Harvard because of Coach Tommy Amaker, described why Lin is able to utilize his skill set in the Knicks system, and added some encouraging words in an interview with Aggrey Sam.
  • Mike James has assisted 55.9% of the Bulls' baskets in his 43 minutes played. There wasn't much question that James could get a bucket here and there, but at 36-years-old, there was a lot of risk to him being flat awful. And he's just another point guard over-performing expectations in the Tom Thibodeau System. Credit Gar Forman for this pick-up and Thibs for making this pick-up work to aided in a couple of wins -- on when Rose and Watson were injured; and Thursday when Rose was out and the Celtics gave Watson and Lucas problems. His pick n' roll play has been fun to watch. It shows a high basketball I.Q. along with proving there's enough left in the tank to produce in doses.
  • We still need Game Previews, starting tomorrow! -yfbb
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