Working smart beats working hard.
But while in the Philippines, he made it clear, via ABS-CBNNews, that he is focused on improving his jump shot—and that qualifies as working smart.
Just take a gander at the 24-year-old's most recent comments:
'No,' Rose answered when asked if there will be a 'tweak' in his game this season. 'I think the only thing that’s gonna change is my confidence level.'
'As far as shooting, I think that’s the only thing I need to work on,' he said. 'The only thing I’ve been working on is shooting longer shots, because I think if people have to come out and stick with me a little bit further, it opens up the court a little bit more, and give me enough room to create and get my guys open.'
'I think I want to be more efficient when I go out there and play,' Rose added. '(I want to) be able to control the whole game, with me being the point guard and having the ball for majority of the game.'
There are two takeaways here.
First, Rose doesn't intend on changing his electrifying, get-to-the-rim-first-and-figure-everything-else-out-second playing style, which should be reassuring for Bulls fans.
With the exception of a certain King and a certain Mamba, there is no player in the NBA right now who is criticized more than Rose. Recovering from ACL surgery last year, he was reportedly cleared to play sometime around March but chose to remain on the bench for the duration of the season.
Many assumed the problem was mental, which makes sense considering Rose is a player who thrives off his athleticism and explosiveness, and knee injuries often threaten to take those exact things away.
Proving that there is no more residue of mental weakness—or fear—will be crucial for Rose. He can do that by attacking the basket with the same ferocity he did as an MVP—and it sounds like he intends on doing so.
The second takeaway is his focus on shooting.
Rose has never been able to consistently knock down shots from the outside. He shot 22.2 percent from behind the arc as a rookie, 31.2 percent in his most recent season and just 33.2 percent in his MVP season.
His ability to penetrate at will has always negated the importance of being a true threat from the outside, but if he could add that component to his game, it would be monumental.
If his knee injury limits his explosiveness or quickness at all, being able to turn to a jump shot that the defense has to respect would be huge. That would open up space and allow Rose to still get into the lane—where he is most comfortable and most dangerous—and make plays.
But even that is a worst-case scenario. If he "Adrian Petersons" his return and comes back at full strength (a more likely situation considering the time he's taken), then suddenly we've got one of the most unstoppable penetration players in the game who can also knock down a jump shot.
That should be a very scary thought for the rest of the league.
Once upon a time, legendary point guard Tim Hardaway also tore his ACL. According to Basketball Reference, he was a 34.2 percent three-point shooter before the injury and a 36.0 percent shooter after.
He certainly knows how to take advantage of a bad situation, and back when Rose was still sidelined, Hardaway had some crucial advice for the young star, via the Chicago Sun-Times' Neil Hayes:
'He can only do three things,' said former NBA point guard Tim Hardaway, who missed the 1993-94 season after suffering a similar injury. 'He can dribble — not run and dribble, just dribble walking up and down the court; he can shoot a bunch of free throws; and he can shoot a bunch of set shots like he’s playing H-O-R-S-E every day, all day.
'But that’s going to make him better. If you shoot 1,000 jump shots a day, 1,000 free throws a day, you’re going to get better. That made my shot better. It really made my jump shot and free-throw percentage better.'
It sounds as if Rose took that advice to heart.
Seeing their young, athletic MVP go down with a serious knee injury, and then subsequently have his return marred in terrible accusations and unnecessary controversy is pretty much the last thing the Bulls could have hoped for.
But as Rose continues to work smart, a return as a more complete player seems on the horizon.
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