I am a big John Hollinger fan. I find Hollinger to be a writer who uses empirical insight without getting too bogged in advance analysis. His player profiles are the best place for a fan to get the lowdown on a player, so naturally I was anxiously awaiting Bulls profiles for 2012-2013. There is a lot of good stuff (I particularly like the profiles of Nate Robinson, Kirk Hinrich, and Taj Gibson), but when it comes to the Bull's signature player Hollinger gives us a player profile that is less than stellar. I would describe it as a rehash of last years profile with some injury speculation thrown in. The one new insight was that Derrick Rose had the league's 2nd lowest assist quality and could stand to improve his court vision. On top of this profile being a repetitive ans speculative, it was also inaccurate.
Its not that Derrick Rose couldn't improve as a passer, but to my eyes Derrick Rose improved as a distributor this year, and statistically there is some support for that thought as well (assist rate and assists per 40 were at a career high). Assist quality is a metric that punishes players for assists that come off mid-range shots and rewards players that get assists from beyond the arc and at the hoop. Looking at the Bulls roster it not hard to see that D-Rose's lack of assist quality is more a function of his teammates than it is his lack of court vision. In Carlos Boozer and Richard Hamilton the Bulls have two players who essentially make their living from mid-range, by design both Rip and Boozer catch the ball in the mid-range area and shoot it from there. Both are excellent mid-range shooters so I don't have a problem with this. With Luol Deng battling a wrist injury, his shots at the rim also went way down, though he did shoot well from beyond the arc. This metric was also unkind to Chris Paul and Lebron James last year, but since they are thought of as great passers it was mostly disregarded. Hollinger is terrific, but I think good old fashioned observation beats the metrics in this case.
This speaks to something bigger, which is the lack of appreciation for Derrick Rose the distributor. The lack of appreciation for Derrick Rose as a distributor comes from the cliche that "pure" point guards choose to pass instead of score, while scoring point guards score because they can't pass. This unfortunately won't be challenged because a player who picks his spot as a scorer has a high FG% to show for it, but someone who picks his spots as a passer only has fewer assists and more shot attempts to show for it(and more points, but volume scoring is a dirty phrase.) The most extreme case of pure point love occurred during the beginning of Rose's MVP season when somebody (I think it was Chris Forsberg) from ESPN Boston said that Rajon Rondo could average 25 points a game if he played on the Bulls. Rose isn't Rondo as a passer,few are, but he is a legitimately good distributor and other than the fact that he shoots a lot, there is very little to dispute that.