How much will Derrick Rose's jumper improve?

How much will Derrick Rose's jumper improve?
September 9, 2013, 2:00 pm
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Mark Strotman

One of the most infamous images for Bulls fans this past season was Derrick Rose taking jump shots at the United Center before games. While the 24-year-old point guard ultimately shed the knee brace he used most of last season in his rehabilitation, and later was seen at the Berto Center jogging, dribbling to the basket for lay-ups and even dunking, his jumpers stuck out as the lasting image from his lost year.

After missing the entire season to rehabilitate the ACL injury he suffered in the 2012 NBA playoffs, the biggest question facing the Bulls is how Rose will respond when he takes the court for the first time in nearly 17 months. There's no question Rose will be healthy — rumors surfaced late in the 2013 season that Rose had been physically cleared by team doctors but wasn't mentally prepared to return — but looking into the question further, his style of play may determine just how "back" he really is.

And while Bulls Insider Aggrey Sam believes Rose will return to form as an elite slasher, a league insider he spoke with said he is most interested to see how Rose improves as a jump shooter. Based on the time Rose put in jump shooting out of necessity — only later in his rehab did he begin the jogging and cutting — there's optimism Rose will improve on his career jump shot mark of 40 percent, per basketball-reference.com.

[MORE: What should be expected from Rose this season?]

To further prove this point, it's only fair to compare other players who have suffered a torn ACL and see how each player performed before and after their respective injuries.

Going back to 2001, we documented nine players 25 years or younger who tore their ACL's. Those players are Jamal Crawford (was 21 years old; tore ACL in 2001), Al Harrington (21; 2002), Willie Green (23, 2005); Jason Smith (22; 2008), Tony Allen (25; 2007); Corey Brewer (22; 2008), Al Jefferson (24; 2009), Ricky Rubio (21; 2012) and Iman Shumpert (21; 2012).

We took each players' jump-shot numbers from the year prior to his injury and then compared them to his numbers from the year after and two years after.

The results were optimistic, in terms of how Rose may perform. Of the nine players, seven improved on their jump shot after Year 1 post-surgery. By Year 2 (Rubio and Shumpert are entering Year 2, so their numbers were not included), the numbers improve even further. Here are the total numbers:

Players FGM FGA FG percentage
Players pre-surgery (9) 919 2,722 33.7%
Players post-surgery, Year 1 (9) 1,334 3,611 36.9%
Players post-surgery, Year 2 (7) 1,333 3,547 37.5%

Since total numbers can be misleading based on a players' missed games due to injury, we also tracked per-game numbers to see whether those players attempted more jumpers per game after surgery than they did before.

Players FGM/game FGA/game FG percentage
Players pre-surgery (9) 1.77 5.25 33.7%
Players post-surgery, Year 1 (9) 2.52 6.84 36.9%
Players post-surgery, Year 2 (7) 2.48 6.61 37.5%

Jamal Crawford (shot 35 percent on jumpers before his injury; shot 47 percent the year after), Green (29% before; 38% after), Allen (27% before; 33% after), Brewer (31% before; 34% after), Jefferson (37% before; 39% after), Rubio (31% before; 32% after) and Shumpert (31% before; 38% after) all improved on their jumpers the year after surgery. Only Harrington (41% before; 37% after) and Smith (35% before; 33% after), both stretch forwards, did not.

There's still context here that needs considering, which is whether or not these numbers accounted for a smaller or larger percentage of each players' total shot attempts. But what we can conclude is that, over the last 12 seasons, players who suffer ACL injuries return post-surgery better jump shooters than before they went down. Some of this certainly can be attributed to the extra work a player puts in from the outside while unable to go full-speed. Simply put, players are limited for a long while to only shooting jumpers, and it pays off the next season and the season after that.

However, the players documented were all 25 years or younger. All nine, 10 including Rose, were young players who had not yet reached the primes of their careers. It's expected that a 23- or 24-year-old player will improve as a player and, subsequently, on their jump shots. You'd need to ask Rose whether his jump shot improved because of the shots he took last season away from the team, but the past numbers indicate he should improve.