The other day, the results of a new study showed that teacher evaluations done by students might not be the best measure for making hiring or firing decisions. If your first reaction to that finding was “well, duh,” then you’re not alone.
You might have had the same reaction to an ESPN article published today by Kevin Pelton, who used advanced metrics (or we can just call it data) to prove definitively that Derrick Rose – and by proxy, the Chicago Bulls – play better when he has more time to rest.
But once you dive into it a little deeper, there might be some significant cause for concern here. Here are the broad strokes to help us get started: when Rose has two or more days of rest between games, he scores more points, shoots better from the field and from three, takes more free throws, has a higher true shooting percentage, and the Bulls have a point differential that dwarfs the ones in which Rose has less than two days’ rest.
Here’s Pelton (Insider):
“In back-to-backs or games with one day of rest, Rose has made just 43.0 percent of his 2-point attempts and 28.6 percent from beyond the arc. Those marks go up to 56.1 percent and 31.9 percent, respectively, when Rose has at least two days between games.
Perhaps more remarkable is the difference in Rose’s free throw rate. When given multiple days of rest, Rose attempts nearly one free throw for each three field goal attempts, not far off the rate he posted during his MVP campaign (.348). On limited rest, Rose takes less than one free throw for every five field goal attempts.
Even more notable is the difference in the Bulls’ performance at a team level. They outscored opponents by 10.8 points per 48 minutes with a rested Rose on the court, as opposed to by just 1.8 points per 48 minutes when Rose played with zero or one day’s rest. Chicago has gone 12-5 (.706) when Rose plays with at least two days’ rest, compared with 24-14 (.632) when he is less rested.”
Here’s where the rub is. Win or lose tonight against the Bucks, the Bulls will have at least two days off, although they’d obviously prefer to close out the series tonight and be able to rest until Saturday. They’ll need all the R&R they can get before they face the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are currently battling injury issues of their own.
But they won’t have the luxury of multiple days of rest as the playoffs rage on. Soon enough, they’ll be playing games every other night, so Rose and the Bulls will have to figure out some sort of strategy to keep him fresh. That’s particularly hard to accomplish during the post-season when the rotations tighten up and coaches lean heavily on their star players for production. It’s a big part why so many coaches today – most notoriously Gregg Popovich – rest their stars at various points throughout the season.
It’s also something that Tom Thibodeau has come under fire for from the Bulls’ front office. Though the minutes restriction they handed down for both Rose and Joakim Noah at the beginning of the season has been lifted for the playoffs, that might not be such a good thing given the numbers.