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Chicago Bulls notebook: Iman Shumpert's recovery, Bad Nate and slow pace

The Chicago Bulls are 6-10 over their last 16 games.

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This community's dedication to separate Derrick Rose's recovery from a torn ACL from the more punctual returns of Iman Shumpert and Ricky Rubio is admirable, certainly, but Newsday's feature on Shumpert is still an interesting read, as pointed out by Jason Patt on Monday night.

Rose's insistence on getting over a certain mental hurdle has been debated ad nauseum in recent weeks, but it would appear as if the Bulls star isn't the only one still fighting to get his mind right. Shumpert sounds like a man still coming to grips with his newfound physical limitations, even after being back since January 17. Newsday paints a picture of a frustrated and almost desperate 22-year old bummed out by the fact that he can't cut/move/jump like he used to.

Shumpert has made gradual progress as of late. There was a 10-point, five-rebound, four-steal effort vs. the Jazz on March 9. He's scored eight or more points in five of his last six games after only doing so four times previously all season. His shooting percentages are still terrible, though. Shumpert shot 26 percent in February and is shooting just 34 percent from the floor in March.

Rose's "110 percent" line has been kicked around as much as anything, but it starts to make more sense when you hear Shumpert discuss his return to the court after a more accelerated recovery process. Says Shump:

"I don't feel I'm the player from last year," he said. "I just came off an ACL. I went four months with no basketball. I couldn't do anything with a basketball except really just stand-in-place stuff. So when you're trying to come back, your rhythm is all messed. Sometimes you dribble the ball. The ball doesn't come back up or it's high. There's a lot that goes into it."

When Rose went down, the general consensus from Bulls fans was that Rose could want to be back on the court as soon as possible. After all, who could forget "I just we-in"? Turns out that desire to be back in action has apparently taken a backseat to a desire to be Derrick Rose again. This is becoming obvious and has been for weeks -- Rose doesn't want to suffer through the 1-for-8 shooting nights that Shumpert and Rubio are occasionally still going through. He's simply too proud and stubborn for that, even if it may aid him in the overall recovery process. Don't think the same issues raised by Shumpert aren't also dancing around Derrick's head right now.

2. Major knee injuries to breathtaking athletes have become so routine in recent years that sometimes I think we forget just how devastating this injury really is. Most people make a full recovery, it's true, but there's still a degree of physical and (ding-ding) mental anguish that really can't be accounted for by accounts/lawyers/bloggers/idiots like all of us.

From the same article, hearing Shumpert discuss his well-being in the wake of surgery is sort of heart-breaking:

"I was waking up and the pain was really, really, really bad early on," Shumpert said. "There was a couple of points where I was like, 'I got to take all these pills just to get out of the bed.' That was the lowest point for me -- not being able to walk. It seemed like the world was just moving, everybody was just moving, people had things to do and I couldn't really do nothing but lay in bed and ice."

It reminded me a lot of Rose's comments in USA Today one month ago, the first time he noted hamstring issues. So yeah: his hamstrings have been hurting for a while now:

"My health was terrible, where I wasn't eating," Rose said. "They put me on medication. And when you're not eating and taking the kind of medication they gave me, it can mess up your body. It messed me up for like a week where I was throwing up consistently every day.

"I couldn't walk. I was in pain. My hamstrings were on fire. They had to block the nerve in my leg, so when that nerve block wore off, the pain came. It felt like someone was hitting my hamstrings with a sledgehammer."

Tearing your ACL: sounds shitty! Don't do it!

3. How big has the story of Rose's recovery become? It's even reached SB Nation's go-to talking torso Dan Rubenstein. In a new video from SB Nation Studios, Rubenstein gives three reasons why Rose should sit out this season. Obviously, I'm in favor of anything that directs people to follow YFBB on Twitter.

4. The Natercoaster has been in full effect in recent weeks, as the Natercoaster is prone to do. There are certainly plenty of examples of hot/cold athletes, particularly in basketball, but I don't hate YFBB enough invoke the name of Ben Gordon here. More appropriately, the Good Nate/Bad Nate complex has been reminding me of a bit of Rex Grossman all season, which gives me an excuse to post this old KSK picture:


Nate finished with 19 points, eight assists, four rebounds and four steals in 43 minutes during the Bulls' Sunday loss to the Lakers, and yes, that counts as Good Nate these days. Bad Nate is much more pronounced: seven points on 4-for-13 shooting vs. the Spurs on March 6, nine points on 3-of-11 shooting vs. the 76ers on Feb. 28, 2-of-14 vs. the Thunder on Feb. 24.

Though it's been more Bad Nate than Good Nate lately, the diminutive guard isn't lacking confidence. From your friend and mine Nick Friedell comes The Most Nate Robinson Quote Ever, and yes, it's completely terrifying:

"Right now I'm on a drought, soon I'm going to make it flood," regarding his recent shooting woes, but it is for the rest of his teammates.

5. Zach Lowe is just like you because Zach Lowe loves Brian Scalabrine!

Amid a morass of unlistenable League Pass homerism, a few nonpartisan but still excitable pros stand out. Scalabrine, improbably, is already among them, and it is a treat when he substitutes for the King of Homers (Tommy Heinsohn) on Boston broadcasts. Scalabrine announced his intention to bring serious TV analysis during last year's playoffs, when at a press conference during the Boston-Philly series he used his temporary perch as a TV reporter to ask about a specific Boston defensive tactic. It was the most enlightening press conference question of the spring, and White Mamba has been killing it since. (Negative points, though, for comparing Jeff Green to James Worthy in a preseason game.)

6. The Bulls' last 16 games have been an abomination for myriad reasons. You are familiar with all of them. Kirk Hinrich has missed 12 games and counting during the 6-10 stretch, Taj Gibson has missed seven and counting, Richard Hamilton has missed six and counting. The Bulls are beat up and tired and really just want to sleep-in and play video games all day right now. I can't blame them. Pouring through the new stats tool at reveals some other reasons for their struggles:

  • The Bulls have been slow as hell offensively all season, but their lack of pace has only been more pronounced over the last 16 games. Which is to say: the Bulls are playing the slowest basketball in the NBA right now. Over the stretch, the Bulls' pace rating of 90.69 would rank dead last in the league if it were a season-long mark, behind even the many jab steps of Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets.
  • The Bulls' offensive struggles have been well-documented as of late, but the defense is also slipping without Gibson and Hinrich. Over the last 16 games, the Bulls have been playing defense at Lakers-like levels, and that is not a good thing. The 103.7 defensive rating Chicago is posting over the stretch would be 17th in the league if it were the season mark, tying them with the Lakers. This surely has Thibodeau giving himself lashes in the mirror every night.

7. While scientists are still at odds over whether we are truly human or dancer, everyone can agree this picture of Gus Giordano’s Jazz Dance Tribute to Michael Jordan is pretty good. Via Marcel Mutoni:


Ricky O'Donnell is an NBA assignment editor at SB Nation. Email at or follow on Twitter.