SACRAMENTO, Calif.– Derrick Rose carries his “Wilson” almost everywhere he goes.
He’ll carry it with him when he’s leaving to board a team bus. He’ll take it on the floor for warmups. Sometimes he’ll just hold it while he’s sitting in the locker room.
Rose’s Wilson, a reference to the Tom Hanks film “Cast Away,” is a 4½-pound olive green weighted ball, roughly the same size as a basketball, that Rose uses to work out. Rose insists his Wilson is special.
“It’s the only ball like this in the world,” Rose said. “You can go try to find it. The company don’t exist anymore. They don’t make a 4.5-pound ball anymore.”
It’s this ball that Rose credits with helping to revitalize his shooting form, a form that was working at a level it hadn’t before in Rose’s NBA life on Wednesday night when he made a career-high seven three-pointers on nine attempts in the Wolves’ 114-110 loss to the Lakers.
The Wolves fell to 0-4 on their five-game road trip, which concludes Friday at Sacramento, and still have yet to win a game on the road this season. But Rose gave them their best shot at it Wednesday. Perhaps it’s a bad sign for the Wolves that they wasted a career-best shooting night from Rose and a franchise-record 20 three-pointers. Or perhaps it bodes well if they somehow manage to fix their defensive and rebounding issues.
Rose’s big shooting night made him again the talk of the NBA a week after he scored 50 points against the Jazz. One reason for Rose’s career renaissance is his improved three-point shot. He has shot only 30 percent for his career, but this season he has made an impressive 46 percent of shots beyond the arc. It’s a sample size of only 11 games, but Rose, his teammates and coach Tom Thibodeau don’t think it’s a fluke.
According to forward Taj Gibson, Rose was saying in the huddle late in the game, “‘Thibs, it’s my kind of game. Give me a shot.’ He almost won the game for us,” Gibson said.
Rose’s final three-point attempt of the night missed as Rose and the Wolves contended the Lakers’ Tyson Chandler fouled Rose on the play. But when the shot went up, the expectation was that it was on its way down. After all, Rose had hit seven of his previous eight from deep. That kind of precision shooting might have seemed improbable early in Rose’s career. But as he has aged, he has worked on his shot.
“I shot probably 15,000 or 20,000 shots this summer,” Rose said. “I changed my form. I changed everything.”
He was able to do it with the help of his favorite ball, which Rose said he “stole” from Chicago.
Former Bulls assistant Ron Adams, now with the Warriors, worked with Rose using the ball. After Adams was fired in Chicago, Rose kept the ball and took it with him when he left.
“We used this ball the entire time he was there, and that was the best I ever shot the ball in Chicago,” Rose said.
For as good as Rose’s three-point shot has looked, his driving ability is still the focal point of his offensive game. There are at least a few times per game when Rose, a former league MVP whose career has been derailed by major injuries, looks like his old self.
He still has the ability to maneuver around the rim and contort his body while still being able to hit tough shots. It usually produces a reaction from the crowd home or away. Finally healthy, the 30-year-old Rose is able to showcase what he hasn’t been able to in recent years.
“I see it. He has his burst. His burst is there,” Gibson said. “He gets to the rim. He’s attacking, but at times, doesn’t get the calls the way he used to. But he’s putting the work in and his confidence is there.”
In almost every facet of his game.