This season much was made of the work Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose put in over the offseason in an effort to improve his jump shooting. Supposedly, his attempt to improve his perimeter game would make him an even more dangerous shooting threat and a more efficient scorer. Instead, all it has seemed to do is lull him into a false sense of confidence and convince him that he is a better shooter than he really is.
If Rose's offseason work had really made a difference in his shooting this year, then we could expect to see an improvement in his effective field-goal percentage. The reality is that this season Rose is posting the lowest effective field-goal percentage of his three-year career. His .478 effective field goal percentage trails both his rookie .482 effective field-goal percentage and last year's .495 effective field-goal percentage.
Yet, despite shooting as poorly from the field as he ever has, Rose still has a 54.1 true shooting percentage, which is the highest true shooting percentage he has ever managed. The fact Rose has still managed to post a career-best true shooting percentage has everything to do with his trips to the free-throw line, which is the aspect of Rose's game for which he should receive some of the highest praise.
A quick way to judge just how proficient a player is at both getting to the free-throw line and converting his free throws once he gets there is to subtract a player's effective field-goal percentage from his true shooting percentage. The higher a player's difference, the better he is at converting free throws to get easy points, and Rose's .063 difference is a career-high.
That difference is a direct result of the fact Rose has spent this season taking one free throw for every three field goal attempts. In his two previous seasons combined, Rose took 4.4 field goal attempts for every free throw he shot.
Not only is Rose getting to the line more frequently, but he is also converting his free throws at a higher rate. His .855 free-throw percentage is superior to the .776 free-throw percentage of his two previous seasons combined.
All praise that might be heaped upon Rose for the work he put into his perimeter shooting should instead be heaped upon him for his improved ability in scoring points from the free-throw line. It has been the free-throw line, and not his jump shot, that has resulted in Rose being a more efficient scorer.