Derrick Rose has supplied plenty of excitement for Bulls fans this season, but we might also be watching him reinvent the accepted standards for what makes a great NBA player.
In the short run, Rose has produced a remarkable stretch of 3-point shooting. He's gone 16-for-25 from long range in the last five games, which adds up to 64 percent.
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Following Saturday's 31-point win over Minnesota, Rose gave credit to teammate Carlos Boozer for giving him more room on the perimeter. With a strong post presence on the floor, it's more difficult for teams to guard the 3-point line, the theory goes, giving Rose more time to line up his shot.
Obviously, Rose has also worked hard to erase what was once thought to be his greatest weakness the outside shot. For two years, people have been saying that if Rose ever develops a reliable jumper, he'll be impossible to guard.
Well, here's the demonstration: Rose is averaging 25.1 points, 8.1 assists and shooting 46.6 percent from the field. Among players who have taken at least 4 attempts from 3-point range per game, Rose ranks 12th in the league at 41.6 percent.
"The way I worked on it this summer, I have a lot of confidence in my shot and I'm going to shoot it no matter what or how many shots I miss," Rose said after Saturday's game.
Of course, there is still a significant deficiency to Rose's game his relative lack of free-throw attempts. He's averaging 5.2 trips to the foul line this season. During the Bulls' five-game winning streak, Rose has shot a total of 14 free throws, not even 3 per game.
Analysts such as ESPN's John Hollinger, who have been studying these things for a long time, write about how the lack of free throws lowers Rose's effectiveness as a player.
This much is obvious: Rose drives to the basket with the intention of scoring. He's probably the most athletic point guard to ever play the game, so he can jump over and around people, hang in the air and make ridiculous reverse layins seem routine.
Does he get all the foul calls he deserves? Of course not, but there has to be more to this trend than a wrong decision here and there.
I think one of the problems with the league in general is referees have let some players make a living by drawing fouls.
The best example right now is Houston's Kevin Martin, who seems to drives toward the basket with the sole purpose of twisting, flinching and flopping his way to a foul call.
Martin averages 9 free-throw attempts per game, fourth in the league behind Orlando's Dwight Howard (11.8), the Clippers' Eric Gordon (9.2) and Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (9.0).
When you measure the percentage of a player's points that come at the free-throw line, Martin easily leads those who currently average at least 20 per game with 35.8 percent.
Rose, in comparison, gets 15.9 percent of his points at the foul line. Just one player currently scoring 20 per game rates lower Minnesota's Michael Beasley at an even 15 percent.
This is an interesting number by Rose, because it's historically low. Looking back at the past 12 NBA seasons, 69 players have averaged 25 points per game and just seven recorded less than 20 percent of their points at the foul line.
The lowest figure during that time frame is Joe Johnson's 16.5 percent in 2006-07. So Rose is breaking new ground in this department.
Looking back at some of the all-time great point guards, Isiah Thomas scored 21.4 percent of his points at the foul line over his career. Tiny Archibald was at 28.3 percent, Magic Johnson 28.0, John Stockton 24.3 and Bob Cousy 27.3.
At the same time, among those players, only Archibald averaged at least 25 points in a season. The others never did.
So how can we compare Rose to anyone? He's a remarkably athletic, high-scoring point guard who carries his team in the fourth quarter, doesn't get to the foul line and is developing a devastating long-range shot.
There's no other way to slice it: Rose is breaking the NBA mold.