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This Week in the Bulls: Why can't Derrick Rose make a layup?

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On Rose's inability to finish, the Bulls' strength of schedule and the return of The Booz News.

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

This was billed as a make-or-break season for Derrick Rose. So far, he's not making anything.

A sampling:

  • Rose is shooting 39.4 percent at the rim, per NBA.com. That's down from 53.3 percent last year.
  • Rose's true shooting percentage of 39.7 ranks No. 315 out of 323 qualified players in the NBA. He is one spot better than Joakim Noah.
  • In the four games since returning from his ankle injury, Rose has taken 70 shots and scored 49 points.
  • The Bulls are better offensively and defensively with Rose off the court, per NBA.com. The Bulls' offensive rating falls from 98.9 to 96.9 when Rose is on the court. The defensive rating jumps from 94.8 to 98.1 when Rose is playing. On the season, he has a net rating of -1.7.

Heading into the year, the consensus opinion was that the best way for Rose to improve his play was to stop taking so many three-pointers and instead drive to the rim. He's doing that. Rose's attempted three-pointers have dropped from 5.3 to 2.3 per game this season. The percentage of shots he's taking within eight feet has climbed from 37.7 last season to 45.4 this year.

So what's the problem? For whatever reason, D. Rose can't make a layup to save his life this season. He's taking the right shots, he's just not making them. Here are Rose's shooting charts from the last two seasons in GIF form.

rose

It's getting sad and ugly. So why is it happening? I have a theory.

I think Rose needs to do two things: a) play with a greater sense of urgency, and b) jump higher on his attempts at the rim.

So often, it looks like Rose is stuck in third gear. There's a quote from Nick Friedell's remembrance of his dunk on Goran Dragic I can't get out of my head:

Rose has acknowledged over time that his game and his mindset have changed because of all the physical setbacks. But the pride that carried him to become the youngest MVP in league history during the 2010-11 season was evident when asked if he could still get up today like he did over Dragic that night.

"I can dunk, yeah," Rose said. "I just choose not to no more."

But dunk to the point where you almost hit your head on the bottom of the backboard?

"I'm telling you I can dunk still," Rose said with a bit of a smile. "It's just that I got brighter. I got brighter."

I'm not saying Rose needs to start dunking everything. But I think getting some extra lift on his shots at the rim would help.

I went back and watched all of Rose's shot attempts from the last three games. If he would just ... jump ... a little bit, I think it would give him a much greater margin of error on these close attempts. A few examples:

rose-3

rose-2

rose-1

For his part, Rose doesn't seem to be too discouraged:

He also had this quote after the win over the Spurs on Monday, via Jon Greenberg:

"Who wants to be great right now early in the season?" Rose said. "If you are, that's good, but right now we're trying to get used to one another, get used to the lineups when we're out there. We're still missing [Brooks], still missing Kirk [Hinrich]. We're missing some players, but we're getting used to each other. It's just going to take a little more time."

Ever since Rose tore his ACL, he's exhibited an incredible amount of patience and caution. For the most part, that's a good thing. But at this point, with his play tanking, a little more urgency from him would be welcome. That doesn't mean forcing shots. It means giving it everything he has on the shot attempts he's already taking.

Of course, Rose might also be physically incapable of being more explosive. He's had three major knee surgeries. Maybe he just doesn't have it anymore.

But we've seen glimpses. He always looks great in the preseason. He can uncork a vintage drive to the rim seemingly once or twice per game. I'd just like to see him play that way all the time.

If he keeps this up, he's not going to be cashing in in 2017 like he wants. He'll probably get the Rondo treatment with a one-year deal. There's a lot of time between now and then, but it's something that should be in the back of his mind.

Hey, the Bulls have played the toughest schedule in the league

sos

Does this excuse the Bulls' inability to, uh, win impressively? Maybe!

My main thought on this is that other NBA fans must hate us. The team is 11-5 with wins over the Spurs, Thunder and Cavs and all we do is complain. I haven't been particularly impressed this year because the offense is more trash than ever (No. 27 in efficiency) and their point differential of +1.1 ranks No. 9 in the East even as their record ranks No. 2.

So: is the Bulls' record a mirage? With so many home games this month (the Bulls are 7-1 at the UC), it might be a while before we figure it out. The schedule in January seems like it will determine how good this team actually is:

jan

Please don't kill Jimmy

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this, but: since a report surfaced that Jimmy Butler is playing through a heel injury, he's played 40 minutes against the Pacers, 40 minutes against the Spurs and 39 minutes against the Nuggets.

Tom Thibodeau was fired for this.

AIR HINRICH

I'l use this as a plug: everyone needs to follow Hungarian Jordan on Twitter. No one does a better job of covering this team right now.

The Booz News

This has been the Booz News.