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NBA, Smack / Nov 5, 2013 / 1:45 pm

Tom Thibodeau Defends Derrick Rose’s Opening Week

Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose (photo. adidas)

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau seems like a cantankerous man to play for. He’s liable to use his scruffy, adenoidal voice to upbraid you for the slightest defensive infraction. But he’s never, not once, overtly critiqued one of his players to the press, and has even gone out of his way to defend his star point guard this season after a slow start. That’s exactly what Derrick Rose needs.

Thibs came out in support of his point guard after practice yesterday, telling assembled reporters, “I’ll say this, I don’t know anyone who drives as hard as he does, nor as fast as he does. I think sometimes he’s penalized for being a nice guy. I’ll leave it at that.”

Thibs is probably alluding to Rose’s awful opening week at the rim. According to Synergy, Rose is shooting 25 percent when he drives to the bucket this season. What what?! When he’s the pick-and-roll ball handler, he’s shooting 16 percent. WHAT? He’s 15-for-52 from the field in three games and 4-for-15 from beyond the three-point arc. Within the restricted area, Rose is just 9-for-25, according to NBA.com.

All of this is to say, what the hell is going on? After terrifying opponents in preseason — yeah, it’s preseason, but it seemed like he was ready to go off — Rose appears to have fallen off a cliff in terms of efficiency. This goes double when he’s at his attacking best.

The Bulls are 1-and-2 on the season, and that lone victory came on a last second floater from Rose against the Knicks that we’re still dreaming about. If he hadn’t pulled that out of his bag of tricks, the media backlash would drown out how happy everyone is Rose is finally back on the court.

Despite Rose’s continued forays into the paint, though, he’s attempted just 10 free throws…all season. Now, it’s not news that a coach is implicitly reprimanding the officials for their reluctance to blow the whistle, but when you look at the too-small numbers, it does give you pause. Maybe it’s unfair for Thibs to expect superstar treatment for his superstar, but if the Bulls don’t get some calls for their dynamo at point, this season’s bright promise will be shrouded in disappointment and resentment, rather than last year’s injuries. The Bulls are expected to compete for a title this year, and that means Derrick Rose needs to find his way to the charity stripe.

Thibs — for all his gesticulations on the sidelines and the increased workload he’s placed on his starters in season’s past — might be the best man for this job. He doesn’t throw his guys under the bus, unless you’re talking increased workload, and he sticks up for them in the press. Now lets see if he gets fined by Team Stern Silver for the not-so-thinly-veiled remarks directed at the league’s officials.

[ESPN Chicago]

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