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Breaking Down the Quantity and Quality of D-Rose's Threes

Last season, Derrick Rose's shooting reached all-time lows. Let's take a look at the quantity and quality of his looks to get a better idea of what went so wrong.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

[Thanks to Will for today's post -yfbb]

We all know the story on Derrick Rose’s unruly three-point shooting. Through his career, it has never been average, let alone great (he’s a career 30.8% from deep). But last season, his volume deep balls reached new lows as he launched a career high 5.3 per game on 28%, the lowest percentage since his sophomore season.

For the first time in his career on a team with two other legitimate scoring options in Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler, Rose’s green-light to fire at will was taking away from the team. The ratio of threes to total shots attempted, 5.3 to 16.4 (32.3%) is reason for concern. Taking so many threes is the least efficient way for Rose to score. And as our very own the HungarianJordan has written, the threes have been primarily contested, pull-up shots, which are the hardest ones to make.

The volume shooting may not be rational, but at least it is defensible. At this point, it is most important to investigate the decision to hoist so many threes and understand the mechanical issues with Rose’s form that made him such a liability from deep in the first place.

Why so many threes, Derrick?

Rose's threes to free throws attempted ratio was also a career low, 1.4 threes for every free throw he took. These ratios indicate that Rose is settling for long shots as opposed to driving and getting to the line, which is frightening for a guy who has done the bulk of his damage at the line and in the paint. Settling for so many threes could be a result of a fear of injury could certainly deter him from driving.

Rose’s splits tell an interesting story. He averaged 0.8 for 4.0 (20%) on threes in the five regular season games after returning from his meniscus injury in only 20.3 minutes per game. Comparatively, Pre-All Star break he still wasn’t great, but made 1.6 threes on 5.5 attempts which is 29.4% shooting playing 31.1 minutes per game. But in the playoffs, we saw him unafraid to attack the basket - his drives per game went from 7.2 during the season to 10.4 during the playoffs - but he was still heaving 5.5 threes per game (surprisingly less than the 6.3 he took during the 2011 post-season).

Watching film hinted that Rose’s decision to shoot came from his inability to drive the way he had prior to his injuries. Not that he wasn’t able to get to the rim, but he lacked the hyperspeed first step on which he used to rely so heavily. To compensate for that, he needed defenders to close in on him much harder, which they would only do if he was a shooting threat.  Unfortunately, that backfired because defenses dared him to shoot, and there are some adjustments that might benefit Derrick to make the opponent pay for giving him so many three-point looks.

But what makes these attempts so frustrating, as has been heavily covered, on many of his catch-and-shoot attempts, he made the decision to shoot before he even received the pass. He doesn’t even give himself a chance to pump fake and drive to the basket, he would just catch and shoot immediately off the pass. On the upside, he didn’t show any hesitation, which usually increases the chance of a make, but he rarely put himself in a position to attack, which is a mentality that doesn’t suit Rose well.

Infuriatingly, there were so many possessions where he would casually trot up the floor and pull right up for three. That shot has no purpose. The defense has time to organize, meanwhile there is no chance for the Bulls run offense for an open look. That shot doesn’t open up the lane for him or draw the defender in so he is able to beat them off the dribble.

What was wrong with the shot form?

Getting into the form itself, Derrick was fairly consistent between his assisted and unassisted three balls. Here are several examples of him on assisted, catch-and-shoot threes from various points in the season. For background on the tenets of good shot form, Coach Nick of has an informative video here.

The first video is from the first home game of the season against Cleveland, which was prior to his meniscus tear. The second shot is from a game against Phoenix at the end of January, right before his injury. The third example is during the playoffs. watch.0.html

First, his form never differs from his normal technique. That said, there are a few problems with his mechanics. He is completely straight up and down when he catches the ball. Because of this, he has to do a big hop to get his dip low enough to get power on his shot. The hitch comes from the hop being too dramatic and slightly delayed.  He needs to bend his knees more so that when he hops to catch the pass, he can speed up his dip and elevate sooner without losing his momentum.

On most of Derrick’s shots, including his makes, he waits until the height of his elevation before releasing the ball. Traditionally, this is the way most people are taught to shoot, but it carries some major flaws. Because he jumps so aggressively, he loses speed on his release and momentum on his shot. All of this results in an uncomfortably stiff form and a shot with no arc on it’s trajectory.

Pull-up threes in transition are some of the most divisive shots in basketball. On the one hand, getting into a shot off the bounce can help a player find his rhythm and timing. On the other hand, they tend to come early in the shot clock and are often considered low quality shots because of the high degree of difficulty and loss of a chance to set up a good look through a play.

Again: this series of shots come first before his injury, then after it, and third during the playoffs.

With his threes off the dribble, his hop and dip are still a problem. He does a pretty dramatic jump stop that makes his imminent shot fairly obvious to defenders, and still has a awkwardly stiff elevation that leads to a flat shot. Another major flaw in his shot is after his release. Rose has no sway in his shot and that prevents him from aligning his right arm with the rim when he releases the ball. So his upper body ends up being in front of his lower body. This prevents him from relaxing his shoulders so most of the power then must come from arms.

Discerning between assisted, catch-and-shoot threes and unassisted, pull-up threes is an interesting place to start. Generally, players have a higher percentage of made threes on catch-and-shoot opportunities, but Rose, who shot 28.5% on catch-and-shoot, was only marginally better on assisted shots than unassisted, where he shot 27.8% (towards the bottom of the league according to the NBA’s SportsVU data).

Unassisted vs. Assisted

('heat' generated by volume, with percentages listed. unassisted on the left, assisted  -100% makes - on the right)

On the Moreyball heat map, the short corners weren’t a high volume spot for Rose, which is to be expected as he is a ball-dominant point guard, not someone hidden in the corners. Fascinatingly, the left wing was the only hot spot for unassisted shots, while he only had success on the right wing on assisted shots. The fact that he was hot from the opposite side of the floor on unassisted shots, further exemplifying his inconsistencies.

Between the poor shot selection and the technique itself, Derrick Rose has some improving to do. For a player who is still near the top of the league at scoring on drives, the unwieldy volume of threes just take away from the attack mode-Rose that creates offense for the team. By making some subtly necessarily tweaks to his form, Rose still has the potential to become a solid shooter. Particularly in Hoiberg’s new system, there will be less opportunity for Rose to take bad shots, so he must learn to be more effective in the shots he does take. In doing so, he will open up the floor for himself to get to the basket more where he is much more efficient.