But my good friend, also a Bulls fan, saw him in another light.
"What an overrated scrub," he would say.
I was shocked. I didn't know how to respond to this. How can he not like Rose? Isn't he an all-star? I would ask him why he thought so, and he would continue.
"Have you seen his assist totals? They're pathetic, and who cares about his points per game. What do you expect, he's the only guy on the Bulls that can score!"
Wow, I thought to myself. Maybe he's right. Maybe Derrick Rose is severely overrated. I've been unable to watch most of the Bulls games this year unfortunately, so I had to look at Rose's stats to see if my friend knew what he was talking about.
The first thing that caught my eye was his assists. 5.8? You're kidding right? I thought he was a point guard!
For the few people reading this that don't understand what 5.8 assists means, let me try to show it to you.
Derrick is 17th in the NBA in assists per game. That's not too good considering his position.
Also, if Derrick is going to be considered an above average point guard, he's going to have to beat out names like Tony Parker, Jose Calderon, Chris Duhon, and Devin Harris. Currently, all four of those players have a higher assists per game average than Derrick Rose.
For a point guard, to have lower than six assists per game is not considered impressive in any way, especially since he is now an All-Star guard. I'm sorry, but All-Star point guards don't have 5.8 assists per game.
What about his points per game average? It is currently at 19.9. For the sake of argument I will not say anything like "it's not even over 20," because 19.9 is as close as you can get.
This is a good stat, he has about a 20 points per game average. For a point guard, that's very good. He's also going to need those points to help his team win because it already shows from his assists that he's not good enough to help his teammates score.
Another stat I want to mention is his free-throw attempts per game average. Almost all the Rose praise I hear from other Bulls fans is about his driving abilities. He's a great athlete, can have highlight dunks every game, can drive to the basket better than any point guard in the league.
Well then, why is he only at 4.0 free-throw attempts per game?
He has not gotten to the free throw line nearly enough times, in my opinion. If he's going to be considered an All-Star—which technically he already is—then he's going to have to get to the line more consistently.
Now, based on what I've seen in the stat book, I would have to agree with my friend. Derrick Rose is overrated. Overrated in the sense that he is not an elite point guard and that he is average.
But, of course, after I made my mind up I had to put on a Bulls' game. And, lucky for me, there were two back-to-back games against the New York Knicks on Tuesday and Wednesday.
I watched the entirety of both games, and I seem to be at a different conclusion yet again.
Wow, this kid's pretty damn good.
His stats in those games were: 28.0 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game, and 6.0 assists per game. And he was suppose to be injured in these games. Scary.
And I'm just putting those stats up for the people who didn't see the games. For the games that I actually saw, I'm going to talk about what he did on the court.
Rose frequently takes jump shots. He'll have the ball, dribble around a guy, stop around the free-throw line level, then take a shot. It just so happens that in these two games they were going in, explaining his 65 percent field goal percentage combined in the two contests.
He also drives to the hoop frequently.
Most of the drives are successful. He'll drive to the basket and make an athletic play to get two. In the second game and not so much the first, he would draw a foul. Now I would still like to see him draw fouls consistently, it doesn't really matter if he makes the layup.
He had six assists in both of these games. That's still not impressive. I'm not going to say he's improved on assists because he had six, that's not too far from 5.8. What I will do is defend him. I cannot count the number of times he made a brilliant move to move defenders away from his teammates, and then get them the ball quickly, only for them to miss a wide-open look.
The Bulls are one of the worst teams in the NBA at shooting three pointers, so Rose is not going always going to be rewarded with an assist when he gives his teammates wide open looks. Also, the Bulls have no inside force that can consistently score baskets, so Rose can't feed it to anybody close to the basket and expect consistent points.
So if he can't trust his teammates to score wide open threes and to make shots inside, what does a point guard do? He scores himself.
Derrick Rose had an injury at the beginning of the year. He didn't perform well at the start because of that injury. Since January, however, when he started getting healthy, he's averaged 22.3 points per game. He is the teams leading scorer because he is their best offensive player.
Point guards with a high number of assists are successful because they feed the ball to their team's best offensive weapon frequently. Since Rose is the best offensive weapon, he gladly keeps the ball and scores himself.
While I was watching the first game, I didn't have a chance to see Rose play in the clutch. They were beating them so bad they rested him. But in the second game it was different. It was 108-106 late in the fourth. I was very pleased to see what Rose does in the clutch.
In a close game, Rose will just take over. He will drive to the basket and rarely miss the shot. He did that twice late in the game on Wednesday. He has turned into the Bulls go-to guy, and he has gladly accepted that role.
So, I've seen the stats. But most importantly I've seen him play. Let's go back to the title question.
Is Derrick Rose secretly overrated?
And at last, my answer is no. Derrick Rose is one of the up and coming elite point guards in this league.
He's also the first Bulls all-star since guess who, Michael Jordan.
To fantasy owners next year: Don't forget about Derrick Rose.
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