Derrick Rose is one of the most polarizing figures in basketball, with eye test fans insisting that he’s the Sixth Man of the Year and statheads countering with “go home, you’re drunk.”
Rose drew a ton of All-Star fan votes, but fan vote alone wasn’t enough to get him into the game, and when sensible people got to decide who the All-Stars were, Rose was wisely left off the list.
But that’s not the question we’re asking here. We’re asking if Rose is good, and the stats in 2019 don’t care that Rose was MVP once and got a salary rule named after him.
But at the same time, reputation matters. Fans think Rose is at least a fringe All-Star. And Timberwolves fans hoped (and some may still believe) that Rose was going to take them to the playoffs.
So let’s hold him to “above average starter” standards. Or, considering his role, he’ll get Confirmed if you can seriously make an argument for him as Sixth Man of the Year. Anything less than that and we’ll fall through Plausible and into Busted territory.
OK, enough talk, let’s play.
The Counting Stats
Rose is averaging 18 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists while starting 13 games and appearing in 49 of Minnesota’s 65 contests this season.
The bench role, however, is largely in name only; Rose is averaging 27.6 minutes per game and frequently comes in and plays lineup time with the other starters.
Plus, on 14.8 shots and 2,9 threes a game, he’s shooting 48 percent and hitting 37.5 percent from long range.
That three-point percentage is a career-high by a country mile, and the overall percentage is the best he’s put up since those MVP days.
The cherry on the sundae? His .517 eFG% is the best mark of his entire career.
On a per-36-minute basis, his 23.5-point average is the best since his MVP season, his turnovers are at just 2.1, best of his entire career, and…see a pattern developing here?
Let’s see if it holds when we get to…
The Advanced Stats
Rose has, by Box Plus-Minus, been even a neutral defender only once in his career, the year he won MVP.
But here’s where his Big 5 advanced stats (PER, TS%, WS/48, BPM, and VORP, with this year’s VORP prorated proportional for Minnesota’s last 17 games) rank in his career.
3rd, 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 3rd.
There’s just one problem.
Derrick Rose only had two good seasons by advanced stats, the MVP year in 2011 and the lockout year in 2012 where he got injured right at the end of the season.
Every other year, he’s been trash, and it’s not like he’s been miles ahead of average in the advanced stats.
A 19.4 PER doesn’t make you an All-Star. A .557 TS% makes you above average but not great as a guard. A .110 WS/48 on a bad team makes you decent but not great, certainly a starter but not within a million miles of an All-Star (a team of players who all had .110 WS/48 would be expected to go 45-37.)
He can’t guard anyone and never has been able to, his overall BPM is negative, and 0.5 VORP in 49 games ranks below…well, everyone.
Hell, if you throw out Trae Young‘s November, Trae’s been better than Rose since about two weeks after Thanksgiving.
Darren Collison beats Rose on every advanced metric except PER (and as the Pacers’ fifth option, it’s not like DC’s numbers are the kind of numbers that PER likes.) Is Darren Collison an All-Star?
The advanced stats argue hard against Rose here.
So I think that’s where this ultimately leaves us.
Derrick Rose’s production in terms of counting stats is undeniable, and his resurgence as a scorer and ability to take care of the ball show that he’s a far cry from the Knicks version of Rose who looked completely washed a couple of years ago.
And if you’re the kind of casual fan whose All-Star vote is influenced by counting stats and guys who shoot the ball well and score lots of points, I see the argument, especially if you heavily weight stardom toward guys who at any point in their career (even if it was eight years ago) were possibly the best player in the whole league.
But this is 2019. Too many better players are putting up better seasons.
Let’s not dismiss Rose completely. The counting stats let him into Plausible…but only just.
NEXT WEEK: Zach LaVine.