DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Derrick Rose knows that every team in the NBA has the same strategy when he steps onto the floor.
"Get the ball out of my hands?" Rose said recently while discussing how teams have set up their defensive schemes this season. "I guess, yeah."
After missing a year and a half while recovering from knee surgery, a lot of aspects of Rose's game have looked rusty over the first two weeks of the regular season. He’s turned ball over 25 times in the first five games, but his biggest challenge has been the constant double teams and traps he has seen from each team, especially the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.
"It's kind of slowing me down," Rose said. "Because it's forcing my teammates to make plays, but at the same time, it's easy basketball when I pass it to them. I know I'm going to have my opportunity to go at them or score when I want to, but us jelling is the biggest thing right now."
When Miami's LeBron James and Indiana's Paul George, both long and athletic big men, switch onto Rose the former MVP has struggled to find a rhythm. Rose said it's a different look than he's used to seeing.
"At first they're not even really giving me a chance to go at the big," Rose said. "They're bringing up both guys so I won't have a chance to split. If anything, they're really forcing me to pass the ball to another one of my teammates. But as a basketball player, as long as I've been in this league it's something that you just get used to. Earlier in my career when they were double-teaming me they were giving me an opportunity to go at the big. They're taking that away now and I just got to learn it."
That's surely one of the things Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau pointed out to Rose during a film session -- Thibodeau wants Rose to focus on finding the open man. The interesting part is that Thibodeau doesn't believe the looks that Rose is seeing are any different than ones he saw before his knee injury.
"It's not different," Thibodeau said. "Great players in this league face traps -- that's part of being a great player. It should be easy offense because any time you're putting two on the ball you have to move the ball freely and the team has to function well together. I think that's why there's such a premium on shooting. You have to surround your best players with shooting. If there's pressure, any time you commit two to the ball, you're saying, ‘What are you willing to live with?’ So you have to weigh that and you got to make shots."
The broader issue for Thibodeau and the Bulls is that they don't have a lot of pure shooters on this roster. Mike Dunleavy, Jr. was brought in to be a 3-point specialist but he has really struggled in his first few weeks. Outside of Dunleavy, the Bulls don't have a lot of consistent jump shooters on this team.
After dominating in the preseason, Rose is still convinced that his time, and his team's time, will come soon.
"It's not frustrating," Rose said. "It's easy basketball if anything. Me passing it to Joakim (Noah) or Taj (Gibson) or Carlos (Boozer) or anyone and making them have to make the play to make the double teams stop. I think that's only how the double team is going to stop is with us finding easy ways to beat it."
The question for the Bulls becomes: How can they simulate the double teams in practice?
While Thibodeau and his staff ponder that, Rose knows that few teams have the ability to send the type of athletic defenders at him that will make much of a difference.
"Somebody that's quick on their feet," Rose said. "I think teams now, right when I hit the screen, the big ... when I used to play in these double teams they'd kind of be in a contain (position). And I'd be able to go at the big and the guard would be on my hip or kind of behind me. They're not even doing that no more where they're on me the whole time forcing me to pass the ball, jumping in the air, doing all types of things so they're really trying to take me out the game, really with that double team."
The good news for Rose is that he views the extra pressure as motivation to get even better.
"That's the first time in my career I ever had to deal with this and it kind of makes me feel good," he said. "Because I'm getting a little bit of respect out there but at the same time I got to find a way to beat it."