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Coach: Growing Pains For Rose
Posted By Anthony Macri On May 12, 2011 @ 2:00 pm In All,NBA | No Comments
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Each week, HOOPSWORLD NBA analyst and coach Anthony Macri opens his notebook and offers an assortment of observations on games, players, and teams from throughout the league. Coach Macri serves as a player development consultant for the Pro Training Center and Coach David Thorpe, working with a variety of NBA players on their skills and game understanding. The Coach’s Notebook appears on HOOPSWORLD every Thursday.
Derrick Rose: Growing Pains & Progress
Back in early February I wrote about the different ‘types’ of point guards in the league today, and basically grouped them into three distinct categories. The guards that moved in Z’s and V’s were typically the explosive athletes, attacking scoring lanes, moving diagonally in straight lines, locating a weak spot and hurtling themselves toward it. They included guys like Russell Westbrook and Tyreke Evans. The ones who probed defenses in curves (S’s and C’s) were players like Steve Nash and Stephen Curry. Most were better shooters (though I think a guy like Rajon Rondo fits this category), and while they did possess quickness to get by defenders, their real strength is to keep their dribble alive and constantly be a threat to a defense with the pass or short jump shot.
The third type were the ones who combined the best of both worlds – the best point guards in the world – guys like Chris Paul and Deron Williams. John Wall could be headed toward this category (though maybe not as good as those two).
Derrick Rose was much more in the first group – the Z’s and V’s category – than any other. But in the last few weeks, we have seen somewhat of a transformation for Rose as he starts to implement aspects of a "curvier" approach to his game. Rose still attacks in straight lines, but rather than stop when he gets himself to a point where he can no longer penetrate, he now bends his penetration, keeping his dribble alive, and continues his attack as more of a probe.
Because this is a relatively new dynamic for Rose, his default is to look for his own offense, which is part of the reason he is taking more attempts than he had been even during the regular season. In many ways, this kind of shift is paradigmatic for a point guard – changing the way they have always been successful is not an easy transition. So, in Rose’s case, it seems like a step back (in shooting percentage, assist totals, etc.), but the reality is he will emerge from this a more complete and therefore better player.
As Rose gets more used to being able to attack and probe, his teammates will adjust as well. This has already started to occur. In Chicago’s first-round series against Indiana, Rose and teammates looked discombobulated on the offensive end of the floor. They were in each other’s way much of the time, and spacing was mediocre to poor. His teammates were simply not getting the same kinds of shots they got during the regular season. But things have started to change in their last two wins in this series. Players are cutting and diving in open space more, and they are staying wider than they did. Instead of standing still, there are more circle-behinds, which gives them better attack angles on kick-outs.
By no means is the metamorphosis complete. Perhaps the most difficult reality for Bulls fans is this maturation (and the accompanying growing pains) is occurring during the most critical point of the season. However, both in the short term and the long term, this is exactly what needs to happen for Rose to take the next step in his career. Chicago will be better for it – harder to defend, more efficient offensively, and eventually much more dangerous – and the real question is whether it’s all too much change for a team without a wealth of playoff experience.
Should the Bulls get past the Hawks, a great test for Rose’s shifting approach awaits in Miami. How he performs against the Heat will tell us all a lot about how far he has come – and how far he has yet to go.
Shot Location in Los Angeles
With a supremely talented frontcourt duo, one would think the Lakers would shoot more shots than most around the rim. Even with guard Kobe Bryant on the roster, Los Angeles’ ability to score in the painted area should be such a huge advantage, that their looks and attempts near the rim should be as high as anyone in the league.
During the regular season, though, the Lakers ranked 19th in the league in attempts at the rim, at 23 attempts per game (statistics courtesy HoopData.com). In some ways, the Lakers made up for their lack of shots around the rim with shots in the 3-9′ range (13.6 per, good for 4th in the league) and at the 10-15′ range (8.2 per game – roughly 6th in the NBA). However, for the Lakers to have the most success, getting a higher number of quality shots at the rim is critical.
This is no more evident than in the postseason. In their playoff wins, the Lakers averaged 25.5 attempts at the rim. In their playoff losses, they averaged more than four attempts less (averaging about 21.3 per game). This may serve to demonstrate one of two realities: either it was easier to get point blank shots in their victories, or Los Angeles made more of a concerted effort to get those shots in games where they would find success.
Whether one theory is correct (or the answer lies in a combination of the two possibilities), the kernel of truth is apparent: more focus on scoring chances at the rim is a better omen for Laker success. This may be as good a reason as any to start to shift the emphasis from Kobe’s perimeter based attack to one that heavily features their post players – something that quite a few analysts have been saying for a while.
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