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Bulls coach Thibodeau says refs penalizing Derrick Rose for being a ‘nice guy’

Nov 5, 2013, 11:12 AM EDT

Derrick Rose AP

Derrick Rose isn’t getting to the free throw line as much as he traditionally has in seasons past, and Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau feels like Rose’s on-court demeanor may have something to do with that.

In 2012, Rose averaged 6.1 free throw attempts per game, and in his 2011 MVP season, he got to the line almost seven times per game.

It’s only been three games this year, but Rose’s attempts have essentially been cut in half, with the explosive guard logging just 10 total free throw attempts on the season thus far.

It’s a tough spot for Thibodeau to be in publicly, because criticizing the officials in any way usually comes with it a sizable fine. But he did give us a glimpse of what he believes the issue is.

From Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Ten free throws in three games for Derrick Rose? Are the referees swallowing their whistles when the NBA’s 2011 MVP hurtles to the rim?

‘‘Next question,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said before weighing in. ‘‘I’ll say this: I don’t know of anyone who drives as hard as he does. Nor as fast as he does. And I think sometimes he’s penalized for being a nice guy. I’ll leave it at that.’’

A look at Rose’s shot chart for this season compared to 2011 shows that the reason for the decrease might not be due to any bias by the referees; it’s likely a product of Rose’s shot selection.

When Rose averaged 6.9 free throws per game,  over 54 percent of his shots came from the restricted area. Through these first three games, only 34.48 percent of his shots are coming in that very same space.

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Essentially, Rose has been shooting more pull-up jumpers to this point in the season than he has in the past, and jump-shooters simply don’t get to the line as much as guys who drive the ball to the basket.

Rose may in fact need to increase his level of frustration if he feels he’s getting fouled on drives with no whistle. But really, he just needs to force the issue more in driving to the basket to see his number of free throw attempts rise.

  1. cofran2004 - Nov 5, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    to the tune of the westminster chimes (like play when the yankees score a run): “Wah wah wah waaaaah…. wah wah wah waaaaaaaaaaaah.”

    shut up and play (coach) the game.

  2. jzone954 - Nov 5, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    This is a bit much no? Like come on….
    The bulls need to make a move someway somehow to get Rose another allstar on that team

  3. beach305 - Nov 5, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    maybe he needs another year to think about it.

  4. abchome - Nov 5, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    A look at Rose’s shot chart for this season compared to 2011 shows that the reason for the decrease might not be due to any bias by the referees; it’s likely a product of Rose’s shot selection.

    When Rose averaged 6.9 free throws per game, over 54 percent of his shots came from the restricted area. Through these first three games, only 34.48 percent of his shots are coming in that very same space.

    No, you had read the shot chart incorrectly.

    34.48% is Rose’s field goal percentage from that area (10 of 29). He actually took 55.77% (29 of 52) of his shots from there.

    • antistratfordian - Nov 5, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      Yes, according to’s shot distribution chart Rose is actually taking a larger percentage of his shots at the rim this year than he was in 2011. 55.77% vs 42.08%.

      So it isn’t that. I think a contributing factor might be that Rose isn’t getting the same type of lift he had before, and he’s getting blocked more – cleanly. According to’s “misc” stats Rose has been blocked on 15.8% of his shot attempts this year. That’s up from 7.9% from 2011.

      I had been noticing Rose getting blocked at the rim more than I’m used to seeing.

      • belleby123 - Nov 5, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        No, Rose is said to have more lift now after the injury. NBA officiating, to me, is completely fixed. Even it wasn’t, it would still be by far the most inconsistent of any of the professional sports.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 5, 2013 at 3:25 PM

        I don’t care really what Rose is “said” to have. He is not elevating in games like he used to – you can see it with your own eyes. Plus, he is getting blocked now more than twice as much as he used to. Guys who have no business blocking his shot (non shot blockers) have been easily denying him at the rim.

        He does appear to be at least as fast or as quick as before (I wouldn’t say “faster” though) – but his claims about jumping higher – we haven’t seen it yet. (He also said he was going to be a much better player and we haven’t seen that yet either)

      • belleby123 - Nov 5, 2013 at 4:44 PM

        If I had a dollar for each time a dude stated opinions as facts on the internet I’d have at least a hundred bucks by now. Get real/.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 5, 2013 at 5:19 PM

        Here are some facts, pal: Rose is getting blocked more than twice as much as usual while taking the majority of his shots at the rim. (Yes, he’s shooting at the rim more than usual as well, but not twice as much.)

        So what are the reasons for this? We can only deduce. I believe it to be a combination of general poor judgement and the overestimation of his own ability. Some of that is observational – so subjective – but that doesn’t make it entirely irrelevant. Some may say it’s completely about poor judgement (“rusty”) because he’s SUPPOSED to be more explosive horizontally and vertically (I don’t know why anyone would think that). I can only counter by saying that he doesn’t appear to be elevating like he used to – and you don’t have to accept that; that’s fine with me. But it’s as good a reasoning as any at this point.

      • belleby123 - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:07 AM

        So you have a statistical sample of three games and those are your “facts”? Are you trying to be funny?

      • antistratfordian - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:40 PM

        Uh… yes. Because they are still facts. Now the trend may continue or it may not; we don’t know yet. But that is the situation as it stands.

      • belleby123 - Nov 7, 2013 at 2:16 PM

        At least we agree that you’re trying to be funny.

  5. ProBasketballPundit - Nov 5, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Sorry, Thibs, but this is on Rose. His first two seasons he had a lot of trouble scoring because he didn’t have 3-point range and he couldn’t draw fouls. Then he addressed those issues, won an MVP, and got the Bulls to the next level. This year he seems to be regressing a tiny bit on drawing contact. He’s avoiding the big guys again and trying to contort his way to made shots instead of just forcing shots through the contact.

    • dabceb - Nov 5, 2013 at 3:20 PM

      Take your blinders off or turn in your basketball card….

  6. basketballgod87 - Nov 5, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    He hasn’t been getting any calls if you actually watch the game he need to be more like westbrook and had the angryman face every time he go to the buckets

  7. belleby123 - Nov 5, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    This would be very easy to corroborate. Just compile of every shot Rose has made going to the hoop. There is significant contact on at least 90% of them. And Thibs isn’t a whiner. What he says you can take at face value.

  8. Anoesis - Nov 5, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    NBA officiating, for as long as I can remember, has been about deferential treatment of big names. Length of career x performance (titles, all-star, etc) = calls in your favor. Apparently sitting out a year injured resets the clock and now Rose has to prove himself all over again.

    I stopped complaining years ago about this bias because it doesn’t look like it will ever change. If you’re a no name, even someone obviously on their way to the top, you won’t get the same call as someone already at the top. It sucks and it affects the outcomes of games, but it is what it is, just like when the refs swallow their whistles in the waning moments of game (especially playoff games).

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