Chicago Bulls

With new year, Rose's evolution continues

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With new year, Rose's evolution continues

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011
4:07 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com
As the 2011 calendar year begins, Derrick Rose continues to be under siege. In the midst of his elevation to a true superstarboth on and off the courtopposing defenses have shown him corresponding attention, blitzing him, blanketing him with two and sometimes three defenders; anything at their disposal to get the ball out of his hands.

While the increased defensive focus has occasionally resulted in some of the high-turnover games Rose has suffered through as of late, his evolution into a top-tier decision-maker and consummate floor general, albeit incomplete, has been sped up. Much of that is due to the freedom given to him by new Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Never. Never in my whole life of playing basketball, said Rose about whether any of his other coaches have given him such latitude. He doesnt care. He just cares about defense. When we come down and shoot a bad shot or whatever, he doesnt really care about that. He wants to pick that up on the defensive end. That mistake on the offensive end, it cant happen on defense. He just says he can live with missed shots, but he cant live with people not giving their full effort."

In Memphis where Rose attended college, it was like a dribble-drive motion offense, where I didnt really need to call plays--or if I did, there were other players on the court that would call something because they were older than I was or they've been in that system for a long time--but last year, it was kind of like the same thing, Vinny really called all the calls, he continued. But this year, I'm learning the system a little bit more, studying it, especially when you've got a guy like Booz, where you could come down, tell Coach to sit down and you could just pass him the ball and let Booz do his thing or come down, do pick-and-roll, or you see Kyle's in the game and he's hot. You could call a play for him or Lu. It's easy when you've got options on the court.

Thats been another step in Roses development, picking and choosing what to do on the floor and when, given the autonomy he receives as a play-caller. Despite being a first-year head coach, the decision to let Rose operate with near-impunity on the offensive end hasnt been a difficult one for Thibodeau.

To me, he has the ability to read and if he sees something that he likes--we're in constant communication through the game--so he's telling me the things that he's seeing, I'm telling him the things that I'm seeing and in preparation for each opponent, we know what we're trying to attack and what we're looking for, said Thibodeau.

For me, I want him to attack. Him being aggressive, I want him to read, I want him to make the right play. I want him to run the team, in pick-and-rolls, transition, if he has the ball, he's the first option and that's what puts pressure on the defense," Thibodeau added. It's his responsibility to run the team and recognize what's going on and what the matchups are.

Added Rose: Thibodeau always tells me to take my time in practice, just making sure everybodys in the right spot because if one person messes up, it messes up our whole playit messes up the rhythm of the play that were runningso just making sure everybodys in the right spot and making sure that we run everything through.

Rose has obviously responded extremely positively to the trust Thibodeau has displayed in him, shedding some of his low-key demeanor as hes become empowered even more as an on-court, vocal leader for the team.

As a point guard, youve got to know what plays to call, said the third-year floor general. I look at Thibs sometimes, but other than that, I go with the flow.

The game really isn't that hard. I remember last year, we used to go into games and be like, 'Man, how are we going to win this game?' or 'What are we going to do?' But now, we go into games and we know what to do. If we're messing up in a certain area, we can hurry up and change it right when we're playing. We don't have to look at film tomorrow or say 'that's why we lost.' We can change it right there and that's been the difference between this year and last year, continued Rose, who didnt fault Chicagos previous coaching staff for any aspect of its instruction, but clearly believes Thibodeau has helped take his game to another level, both mentally and physically.

Roses newfound studiousness has been manifested in him taking a page from Thibodeau and watching game film in his off time, a diversion from his usual off-court consumption of sitcoms on DVD.

I don't really watch games. I look at the scores or whatever, but I don't watch NBA games like that, revealed Rose. Film, I'm watching a lot more, looking at how our team is and looking at the percentages and how we're doing.

While Rose has always been quietly confident, his production and talent are now so obvious that even the humble South Side native must admit hes approaching rare air, as far as his status around the league. A helpful nudge from his agent, former Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong, helped him realize that.

Just asking him what Mike Michael Jordan did or what they did at certain times and his knowledge of the game because he played with the greatest in the world, so he knows what he did. Im nothing near him, but he was just telling me all the things that he did, so I could have a little bit more confidence out there in knowing what Im doing, said Rose of what kind of advice he solicits from Armstrong. Hes a guy studies the game, was a pretty good point guard in the NBA, played for a couple of years, won championships and hes my agent, so why not ask him questions about everything he went through?

I know that now, I could easily come down and do whatever I want to do in the game, but Ive just got to pick it out at the right times, so that everybodys getting the touches that they want and I can easily get in the groove of the game.

At the same time, hes still the same 22-year-old whodespite playing in last years All-Star Gamejoked about his chances of playing in the annual event again next month, It would be great, but just get me on the team. Let me be the water boy or something like that. I'll be good. Towel boy or something. Let me run the clock or something. I'll be good.

New year, same Rose.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls the worst team in NBA?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls the worst team in NBA?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Nick Shepkowski (670 The Score) and Dan Cahill (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap on the panel. Jake Arrieta will return to the rotation to face the Brewers. Can he recapture his pre-injury form? Mike Glennon gets another start Sunday but should he get the hook if he struggles again?

Plus, the guys discuss the one metric that says the Bulls are the worst team in the NBA.

A 'woke' Doug Collins returns to provoke thought — and we'll find out who's asleep in Bulls' front office

A 'woke' Doug Collins returns to provoke thought — and we'll find out who's asleep in Bulls' front office

Doug Collins made it clear, that his return to the Bulls organization won’t result in a return to the sidelines as head coach, meaning Fred Hoiberg has nothing to worry about in the way of looking over his shoulder.

What Collins did admit, though, is he’s back with the Bulls to provoke thought. Anyone who’s listened to Collins as a broadcaster for ESPN or Turner Sports, or talked to him in any basketball capacity, knows he’s not only a hoops lifer but also someone who can have strong opinions, capable of quick dissection of a complex picture in a moment’s notice.

“I’m not here to be a decision-maker. I want to provoke thought. My mind is very active,” Collins said Tuesday afternoon at the Advocate Center. “And I think to get into a room and to bounce ideas off each other or whatever, at the end of the day, Gar, Michael, Jerry, Pax will make those decisions. The beauty of it is is that when there’s a level of trust when you’re talking about things, you can speak openly and honestly with people knowing the only thing that matters is that whatever happens is the best for the franchise.”

Announcing Collins as a senior advisor to executive vice president John Paxson adds another voice to the Bulls’ braintrust and is probably an admission this rebuild will require more than what the Bulls already have, be it in terms of connections, observation and even innovation.

Collins’ connection to Paxson and Jerry Reinsdorf, a growing relationship with Michael Reinsdorf and ability to relate with Hoiberg due to the misery of coaching should align a front office to the floor in ways that has been in doubt for the past several seasons.

“Given Jerry's relationship and my relationship with Doug over the years, we thought, hey, let's see if maybe this isn't a good time for Doug to come back into the fold,” Paxson said. “So we approached him and it was very casual, no expectations other than he's been a friend of ours for so long. But the more we kind of dug into the prospects of this and what it means, the more we kept asking ourselves, why wouldn't we do this?”

Collins made it clear he won’t be giving up his family life, as he already has residence in Chicago and his son Chris is coaching Northwestern and a son-in-law coaching a high school team outside Philadelphia.

“The hours and the time commitment that Fred Hoiberg puts in on a day and the energy that he spends and being on the road and being away from his family,” Collins said. “(This) worked perfectly in my schedule when I talked to Pax that I could be a part of something special, the Chicago Bulls, and I love the Chicago Bulls.”

His energy and passion can light up a room, and though he tried his best to say that’s died down at age 66, claiming “I can sit and do a crossword puzzle for three hours now”, people wired like Collins don’t lose their fervor for the game.

“I think there’s this feeling that I’m a guy who’s always on and fired up,” Collins said.

But that fire and passion and presumably a willingness to be uncompromising with the truth should be something that’s welcome inside the Advocate Center. In addition to his acumen, one of Collins’ greatest strengths is his fervor, and it shouldn’t be scaled back.

That’s not how rebuilds work successfully. Lines have to be crossed and people have to be made uncomfortable in their line of thinking, even if it’s Paxson or Hoiberg or general manager Gar Forman.

It’s not hard to see the Bulls following the thinking of the Golden State Warriors when they added Jerry West in an advisory role years ago, resulting in several key moves being made, most notably West’s objection to Klay Thompson being traded to Minnesota for Kevin Love before Love was eventually moved to Cleveland.

West’s guidance played a part in the Warriors’ upward trajectory to championship status, and he hopes to have a similar affect with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Comparing West with Collins on its face is a bit unfair, considering West’s experience as an executive and championship pedigree dating back to his days with the Lakers.

At least with West, he’s not trying to convince anyone he isn’t anything but a tortured basketball soul at age 79. Collins reminded everyone he’s a grandfather of five and at a spry 66, West would call Collins a “spring chicken.”

What Collins can bring is a keen eye for observation, and expecting him to be a passive personality doesn’t quite seem right, especially leaving the cushy job at ESPN that allowed him maximum exposure and a schedule to his liking.

Perhaps the way Collins left the NBA, with a massive gambit in Philadelphia falling flat when Andrew Bynum’s knees rendered him useless and sending the 76ers franchise into “The Process,” left him with a bad taste in his mouth.

Maybe his competitive juices got him going again and the broadcast booth just wasn’t cutting it, along with having a front seat to the injury that changed the course of the Bulls franchise when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in 2012 against Collins’ 76ers.

Maybe the crossword puzzles just couldn’t get it done anymore. After all, the man once cried on the sidelines as his Detroit Pistons beat the Bulls in a regular-season game in 1997. Curbing that passion would be a disservice.

“See how things quickly change? The NBA is cyclical now,” Collins said. “Other than the San Antonio Spurs, over the last 20 years, every elite franchise has gone through this moment. And so now what you got to do, you got to dig yourself back up.

“We got to start doing all the things that are necessary to gain assets day by day, to put all the work, so we’re going to give ourself a chance, when we continue to get better players and more talent, that you’re going to win more basketball games.”

Collins said he has old-school values, all while being caught up with the times that he called himself “woke” as a nod to the current culture.

If he truly is, we’ll also find out who’s asleep in the front office, in desperate need a loud wake-up call.