We learned this season that when Derrick Rose draws fouls, he is a much, much more effective player. His shooting percentages remain on the low side of "elite," even given his huge usage rate. But by drawing fouls regularly -- and hitting those free throws at a top rate -- Rose makes himself an efficient superstar, which is the best type of superstar. (Ask Tracy McGrady or Allen Iverson.)
But Rose's free throw rate died with a sprained ankle in the Chicago Bulls' series against the Indiana Pacers. Did it pick back up against the Atlanta Hawks, and what does that mean moving ahead to a conference finals series against the Miami Heat?
As it turns out, while Rose did end up earning more free throws as the Hawks' series wore on, in the aggregate, his lower-than-usual free throw rate is a bit worrisome. Take a look at a comparison of his free throw rate from early in the Indiana series to the games since.
In the Indiana series, Rose exceeded his regular season free throw attempts per field goal attempts average (0.347) four times in five games. Those were the four games Chicago won. The Bulls lost Game 4, in which Rose's free throws were down (22 FGAs, 4 FTAs).
Against Atlanta, Rose exceeded his season average just once (Game 5, a Chicago win), came really close to his season average twice (Games 3 and 4, a win and a loss) and saw the Bulls go 2-1 in games the point guard fell substantially below his own standard in foul-drawing. So there's evidence Chicago can survive even when Rose struggles to draw fouls.
Going forward, Miami is not as good as Atlanta at avoiding fouls -- here's looking at you, Joel Anthony -- so the initial indication would be that Rose's foul-drawing could pick up a bit more. All eyes will be on the battle between the Heat's offense and Chicago's famous defense, but Rose's ability to crack Miami's underrated defense will be a huge storyline to consider. And drawing fouls is going to be a huge part of that.