CHICAGO -- From the time he set foot in the NBA more than two years ago, Derrick Rose's game has always been predicated on speed. He is without question one of the fastest players in the league with the ball. His ability to race up and down the floor leaves both opposing players and fans in awe. Over the summer, though, it wasn't just his legs that he was trying to speed up -- it was his shot.
The Bulls' point guard spent countless hours in the gym working with head coach Tom Thibodeau, assistant coach Ron Adams and trainer Rob McClanaghan on speeding up his shot. The validation of that hard work has come this year; Rose has added a reliable long-range dagger to his already impressive repertoire.
"I'm trying to show everybody what I've been working on," Rose said after Saturday night's win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in which he knocked down a career high five 3-pointers. "You want to show opponents or people that you play against new things so that you know that it's going to be a hard night. They were leaving me wide open on the shots, I was just taking my time, my teammates were passing me the ball when I was open and I was just shooting."
Rose heard the criticism that he didn't have the type of long-range game that so many other point guards posses so he worked for months on the mechanics of his jumper. He credits Adams for helping achieve the goal he set before the summer of becoming a more consistent long-range shooter.
"He's been huge, man," Rose said. "Just making sure that I work on my shot every day. Just going back to the basics. Just making sure I follow through ... just speeding up my shot, so that I can get the ball, shoot it more in the air, have more arc on it."
Unlike in years past, Rose realizes that he is now a threat any time he comes off of a pick. He takes pride in the fact that defenders have to account for a different aspect of his game any time Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah or any of his other teammates come up to set a screen and give him room.
"They have to chase me over now and that's my whole key to this year is making them chase me over," Rose said. "Somebody like Steve Nash, you can't go under on him or he'll shoot. So right when I get that down. I think that I'll be a bigger threat."
It's the type of threat that his teammates are ecstatic about. They know that Rose's ability to consistently make that shot, makes each one of them even more dangerous because it opens up more space on the floor.
"He's getting more and more confidence in his 3-ball and it's a scary thing," Noah said.
As both Noah and Rose pointed out, one of the biggest keys to Rose's recent success is the addition of Boozer. It's no surprise to either of them that Boozer's presence on the floor has given Rose more room to shoot. Since Boozer's return on Dec. 1, Rose is 19-for-34 from beyond the arc.
"In adding Carlos as well, we're getting a lot of touches in the paint," Noah said. "And when you're throwing back [from the post], it's an easier shot for a shooter. I think we've been doing a pretty good job of that and [Rose is] confident knocking down open shots. It's really looking consistent and he has no problem taking that shot."
"Somebody with a low-post [game] like that, sometimes you've got to double-team," Rose said. "Or if the guard even takes an inch, I've got to be ready to spot up. So as long as they keep double teaming 'Los and leaving me wide open, I'm going to shoot."
The confidence in that shot is only going to grow with time. Rose spent so much time refining it that there are games, like Saturday night's, where he admits that he is looking to get it going early, instead of always trying to drive to the hoop and score early.
"The way I worked on it this summer, I have a lot of confidence in my shot and I'm willing to shoot it no matter what," Rose said. "No matter how many shots I've missed. As you can tell, as many games as I've been missing [shots] early, I'm willing to continue to shoot."