Warning to the rest of the NBA, especially the Miami Heat: If history can be used as a guide, Derrick Rose is going to be a much better shooter when/if he returns during the playoffs.
Yes, that is a big “if.” Rose is expected to sit again tonight for Game 3.
But when he returns, he should return a better shooter. That’s what happens when hard-working, coachable players have to rehab from leg or knee injuries. All they can do is practice their shot, and the thousands of repetitions – when done the right way – usually pay off with better accuracy numbers.
Will it take time for him to regain his wind, rhythm and mojo? Of course – that’s one of the main reasons he has been out so long – but if there’s one area where we should certainly see an improvement in over time, it’s with regards to Rose’s jimmy.
Let’s not forget, Rose made a quantum leap as a shooter between his second and third seasons in the league, going from making 32 3-pointers in his first two seasons to making 182 3s in Years 3 and 4.
This is an example of how it works, and we need to look no further than another ACL recoveree — Iman Shumpert — for evidence.
When Shumpert snuck between the Indiana Pacers’ Ian Mahinmi, Lance Stephenson and Sam Young to throw down the play of the postseason, a thunderous, 1-handed put-back jam, in the 2nd quarter on Tuesday evening at MSG, he reminded everyone watching that his left knee is just fine now, that with each passing game the ‘pop’ in his explosiveness keeps improving.
The Knicks coaching staff and players aren’t surprised that Shumpert has come back so strong in the areas that he was revered for before he came back from his injury; defensive pressure, hustling, slashing to the rim and making highlight-reel plays are all part of what make Shumpert a special, young guard with loads of potential.
What the New York Knicks have to be thrilled about, though, is the consistency of his jump shot since he’s come back.
As somebody who watches jump shots with a keen eye, I noticed Shumpert trying to improve his mechanics as he came back from his injury.
The biggest difference between Shumpert’s jumper as he’s progressed from his rookie season into his sophomore campaign is the timing of his release. Currently, it’s much more consistent; he’s doing a much better job of releasing the ball at the peak of his jump regularly, instead of on the way down, which is vital to the nearly 10 percentage point, 30.6%-to-40.2% increase he made from Year 1 to Year 2.
Did tearing his ACL and MCL, commonly referred to as the most devastating of injuries in professional sports, help improve his shooting?
“Definitely,” said Shumpert at the podium following the Knicks blowout 105-79 Game 2 win at MSG. “There’s different stages of the rehab. When I was finally able to walk I couldn’t jump, so you know, I was doing all form shooting.”
You see, if you’re a basketball player and you’re seriously injured, hampering your ability to workout as you’d want to, there are still many, many ways to keep yourself sharp so that when you’re able to return to the court, you’re even better prepared – mentally and physically – to make a comeback.
“Soon I started to be able to jump and then I’m not able to run,” continued Shumpert. “So I’m just shooting jump shot after jump shot all the time; that’s all I could do. When you miss basketball so much you’ll do that all day.
“I guess I’ll have to credit tearing my ACL to being able to knock down those corner 3-pointers.”
Shumpert is shooting 46.2% on 3.3 deep treys per game through eight playoff games. Teams have been forced to respect his jumper from behind the 3-point line, but he’s also been taking and knocking down mid-range shots with more regularity and confidence, as well, which is also a credit to the time his injury allowed him to focus on his shot.
LOOKING FOR MIAMI HEAT TICKETS? LOOK NO FURTHER
Shumpert isn’t the first player to uncover the positive results of being forced to work in stationary positions.