Rose got the jump on his shot
Bulls star's improved jumper -- and MVP bid -- started in gym with trainer last summer
Derrick Rose accomplished in 12 minutes Saturday what it took him 43 games to do last season.
He connected on five 3-pointers in the first quarter against the Utah Jazz, giving him 100 for the season, continuing a remarkable breakthrough season on the perimeter a season after making just 16 from long range.
Rose recognized that shortcoming in his game and, when he wasn't busy as the starting point guard for Team USA in the FIBA World Championships last summer, he was in the gym working with his trainer, Rob McClanaghan, in California.
"He's one of the reasons why I'm having so much success on my jump shot this year," Rose said of McClanaghan, whom he met in the summer of 2007 before Rose went to play at Memphis, and with whom he has been working since.
But it's not games like the one Rose had against the Jazz that catch the eye of McClanaghan.
"In the past, he might miss three or four shots in a row and then not shoot for a while," McClanaghan said. "But then the other game against Atlanta, he missed his first seven jump shots and ended up with 34 points."
Rose's summer workouts with McClanaghan helped develop that confidence.
"He knows how hard he worked, so now he says, you know what, I'm gonna keep shooting, I worked too hard for them not to fall," McClanaghan said.
The work has paid off for Rose. After hitting 16 3-pointers in each of his first two NBA seasons, Rose has made 100 on 297 attempts this season, good for a .337 clip. That confidence to keep shooting has vaulted him to the front-runner for NBA MVP, leading the 47-18 Bulls, who are battling the Boston Celtics for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Few doubted Rose had the talent to be a great player, but some wondered if he could develop into a vocal leader. McClanaghan said Rose always wanted to be a leader, but he was hesitant as a rookie because he had yet to prove to his teammates and himself that he deserved that label.
But McClanaghan noticed something different in Rose over the summer.
"He was much more vocal, and it has as much to do with him as it does the players around him," McClanaghan said. "Players don't want to follow a rookie, but now they know he's one of the best players in the league. Not only were they willing to follow, but he's been willing to lead. You talk to his teammates, they love him. They can't believe how humble he is, and they want to follow a player like that."
McClanaghan, who played at Syracuse, has been training basketball players at all levels for almost nine years. After coaching for a year at South Florida, McClanaghan realized he liked working players out individually. Originally from Providence, McClanaghan had his first client in former Friar and current Clipper Ryan Gomes. They worked together Gomes was in college and McClanaghan helped him train for pre-draft workouts.
Word spread and McClanaghan's client list grew. He started offseason workouts that boast clients such as Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Atlanta's Al Horford and current WNBA star and Naperville, Ill., native Candace Parker as past participants.
Last summer might have been one of McClanaghan's most productive. Also enjoying breakout seasons are McClanaghan clients Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who each made their first All-Star team this season.
"I'm not surprised at all," McClanaghan said of his three prized pupils' ascent to stardom, "I've seen these guys from day one. I give these three all the credit. Not only did they show up every day, but they put a lot of pressure on themselves in those workouts. The work they put in was second to none."
And basketball wasn't the only area where McClanaghan saw improvement in his pupils.
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"These guys have been lifting weights, eating better. They've changed their lifestyles," McClanaghan said. "You can get away with ignoring those things in college, and you'll be the best player on your team. Now you're in the best league in the world, just working on the court isn't everything."
Rose said McClanaghan helped him work harder over the summer.
"I've been very lucky to have him on my side. He pushes you every day," Rose said. "He's always telling you how you're going to be the best if you do certain things. It makes you work harder."
Work ethic has never been an issue with Rose, but McClanaghan admits that this summer Rose took it to another level.
"After he became an All-Star [in 2010], he felt like [the Bulls] were his team officially," McClanaghan said. "This summer it was not only 3-point shooting but getting to the free throw line more, reading the defenses better, working the pick-and-roll. He really brought the mentality that, 'Yeah I'm pretty good, but I need to be better.' "
For Rose, a typical summer day with McClanaghan consisted of two separate basketball-related workouts, the first starting at 9 a.m. Both workouts would run about an hour and a half, with the intensity picking up as the workouts went on.
"You ask Derrick, Russell or anybody, the hardest drills are always at the end, just like the last minute of the fourth quarter is always the hardest," McClanaghan said. "I tell the guys, it's not how long we're there for, it's what we do when we're there. You don't need to be there for 12 hours."
After a break for lunch and possibly a nap, they came back in the evening to work on shooting and reading defenses. Any weight-training exercises were done on their own in between their sessions with McClanaghan.
When analyzing the film, McClanaghan noticed that Rose's jump shot was consistently short. That's why repetition became key for Rose. He worked on making sure his release point was high and that he was always using his legs. If Rose was going to miss, it would be long. His goal was to make sure that he got his shot over the front of the rim.
It may sound like a simplified explanation, but McClanaghan says that in the past Rose was trying not to miss; now he's trying to make the shot.
"We never changed his shot, per se, we just tried to be more consistent with it, use his legs, follow through every time, keeping it high," said McClanaghan, who felt it was clear improving Rose's shot was all about consistence and confidence.
They also worked on looking for contact when Rose drives to the hoop. McClanaghan held a large pad and used it to hit Rose and Westbrook as they went to the basket, teaching them to absorb contact.
"It's not that [Rose and Westbrook] would shy away from [the contact], but I wanted them to not only take the hit, but get a good shot up," McClanaghan said. "A lot of us didn't think [Rose] was getting the right calls [early this season], but Derrick shook it off, and now he's getting the calls he wouldn't have gotten in the past. He's earned those calls."
Six days a week, Rose, Westbrook, Love and others trained with McClanaghan, working on their individual weaknesses.
"Sunday we usually have off unless I get a call, which I did this summer almost every Sunday," McClanaghan said. "They want to keep that rhythm. That's what's great about them -- they don't want a day off."
Rose texted McClanaghan the day after the Bulls were knocked out of the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers. After a quick rest following a long season, Rose wanted to be sure that he and McClanaghan would be in the gym as soon as possible, getting ready for the Olympic trials.
After the world championships in Turkey, Rose was back in Chicago with camp only a few weeks away. Again, Rose contacted McClanaghan, asking to set up a couple dates. McClanaghan was confused because they had already finished their summer workouts. What was Rose talking about?
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"He wanted to train again, so every day we met in the Berto Center, refining what we'd worked on over the summer and the last four years," McClanaghan said. "It was clear he was very eager to take his game to the next level."
So what do Rose and McClanaghan have planned for this offseason?
"Derrick is never satisfied," McClanaghan said. "Even now he's talking about how this summer he wants to work on his post moves."
First a jump shot, and now Rose wants to own the paint as well.
ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell contributed to this report.