Derrick Rose Has Transformed 1 Weakness Into a Palpable Strength, Catapulting the New York Knicks to Another Playoff Chase

There have been two shocking transformations in the Big Apple. One is the New York Knicks going from bottom-feeder to steady playoff contender. The other is Derrick Rose becoming one of the sport’s best shooters.

After guiding them to the four-seed in 2020-21, Rose has helped the Knicks get off to a 3-1 start this season. A big reason why has to do with three-point shooting, something D-Rose never used to have in his arsenal.

Derrick Rose was not a good three-point shooter

When Rose joined the Chicago Bulls as the first pick of the 2008 NBA Draft, he was heralded not for his ability to shoot from downtown, but rather his athletic prowess in attacking the basket. The 6-2 guard was one of the most explosive players in the NBA, showcasing elite quickness and and excellent leaping ability.

“Pass-first point guard with excellent floor vision and handle,” ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote for Rose’s pre-draft evaluation. “Very strong and super athletic. A tenacious defender. Great quickness and leaping ability. Excels taking his man to the basket. Virtually unstoppable one-on-one. Great size for his position. Excellent floor leader.”

However, there was one big weakness the 2010-11 MVP wasn’t initially able to overcome.

“Needs to work on his jump-shot consistency,” Ford stated. “Especially from distance.”

Across seven seasons in the Windy City, Rose shot 30.2% from three. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, however, as Rose averaged nearly three attempts per game including a career-high 5.3 attempts in 2014-15, a season he finished at just 28.0%. His first two seasons outside of Chicago were even worse, where between a prior stint with the Knicks and a split between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves, he hit only 22.5% of his 90 three-point attempts.

A change in mentality helped Rose start to hit threes

After his first nine seasons in the NBA, it was hard to expect much from Rose. But the 2018-19 season provided the first glimpse into the D-Rose we see today: a valuable scorer off of the bench with a potent shot.

In 51 games with the T-Wolves, Rose hit a career-high 37.0% of his threes, averaging 2.9 attempts per game. When asked about the improvement, the three-time All-Star revealed it had nothing to do with a tweak in his mechanics or working with a shooting coach (h/t CBS Sports).

“Not thinking — it’s just not thinking about it. It’s kind of weird, having guys running at me at the 3-point line now. It’s kind of cool to see they’re giving me a lot of that attention out there.”

Derrick Rose

Now in his second go-around with New York, Rose is better than ever from beyond the arc. In 39 regular-season games since coming over from the Detroit Pistons last February, Rose has made an astonishing 49.5% of his 109 attempts. He even went 47.0% from downtown in New York’s first round loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Rose’s shooting has lifted the New York Knicks

On a team ranked inside the top-10 in three-point percentage, D-Rose is king. The former All-NBA honoree is pacing the Knicks with a sensational 57.9% clip, just under six points ahead of Kemba Walker. Only Philadelphia’s Seth Curry, at 61.9%, has a higher percentage while shooting more than Rose’s 4.8 attempts per game.

In part because of Rose’s average of 14.3 points, New York’s 118.8 points rank second to only the Charlotte Hornets. The Knicks also own the league’s fifth-best offensive rating and point differential heading into Thursday’s nationally-televised battle with the Bulls.

Earlier this week, Rose gave more insight into becoming one of the league’s premier three-point shooters.

“I always felt like I was capable,” Rose said after practice. “And I always felt like if I played on a team long enough, I would build my confidence. Last year in the playoffs I shot the ball pretty well and I think it’s translating over pretty well into this season.”

D-Rose may not be the high-flying MVP of a decade ago. But his newfound three-point shot has reinvented his career and rejuvenated long-suffering Knicks fans.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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