When it was announced that Derrick Rose would miss Friday night’s game against the Raptors, I’m sure a lot of Raptor fans breathed a sigh of relief. You would think that Chicago’s best player being out would be good news for the Raptors, right?
Well, technically, yes.
But right now, Derrick Rose isn’t the Bulls’ best player.
Since missing basically a year and a half to injury, Rose is predictably struggling to find his rhythm and shake the rust off his game. It’s going to take a while. So while Chicago is currently above .500 and sits in third place in the East, the team might be better in the short term without their former MVP. Without him, they are forced to play the team-first ball that got them to the second round of the playoffs last year without Rose.
That’s not to say they don’t need Rose. Without him, their ceiling is the second round. If he returns to pre-injury form, the Bulls have as good a chance to get the Finals as the Heat or Pacers.
Here are some basic stats for the game:
Score: 96-80 for the Bulls
The Raptors shot just 35% from the field for the game and 26% for the first half.
Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan had a combined 37 shots and 2 assists.
The only two Raptor players who shot over 40% from the field were Gay and DeRozan.
While the Raptors were never in this game, there were some bright spots. Well, one. DeMar DeRozan continued his hot shooting ways from Memphis by tying his career high in scoring, with 37 points, 28 of which came in the second half. While he didn’t contribute in other ways, without his offensive output, the Raptors probably would have scored in the 60s and the score would have looked a whole lot worse than what it ended up being. And considering it came against Chicago’s vaunted defense, that is impressive.
But while his 37 points is certainly impressive, what’s more important is whether or not his more efficient shooting is sustainable.
What’s interesting about analytics, is that they will tell you what has happened previously, and, given enough data, tell you what is most likely to happen in the future.
Take a look at his shot chart for the game:
Now let’s look at his shot chart from his worst shooting game, against Indiana last week:
Other than more three pointers, it’s not as if it’s a big difference in where DeRozan shot the ball. In both games, the majority of his shots were in the 15-20 foot range, it just so happened he hit his shots last night and missed them against Indiana.
Both Chicago and Indiana are excellent defensive teams, so it’s not as if one game came against a poor defense that allowed more open shots.
Now obviously, players go through slumps just as they get hot, but the fact is that DeRozan didn’t score more efficiently last night because he was taking better shots. He wasn’t. In fact most of his shots were contested. He scored because he just happen to be hitting a much higher percentage than he usually hits from the same places he always shoots.
In some ways, this may seem obvious. If a guy has a career night, he’s obviously hot, right? Yes. But when a player has been shooting poorly, as DeRozan has, and then suddenly breaks out, it’s important to know WHY he’s breaking out.
I think it’s safe to say he’s most likely not going to go back to shooting 37% from the field, but he’s also not going to continue to shoot 59%. So if you’re expecting this to be a glimpse of things to come, you probably need to temper your expectations, because it’s probably not going to last. A return to the norm for DeRozan, probably around 45%, is the most likely outcome.
While the calling card of the Bulls is their defense (their Defensive Rating before last night’s game was 3rd best, and that probably went up after holding the Raptors to just 35% shooting and 80 points), their offense has struggled this season, with one of the worst offenses in the league, so far. You wouldn’t have known it last night, as the Bulls moved the ball well, found the open man, and had a fluid offense and good spacing.
Take a look at this one play: