Partly in thanks to respected columnist Steve Aschburner ranking Derrick Rose No. 1 in his Race to the MVP column on NBA.com, Chicago Bulls fans have gone off the deep end in believing their guy is actually a top candidate for the award.
No disrespect to the proud legion of the black and red, or Aschburner, whom most don't know is a longtime Bulls fan, but the reality is Rose's chances of winning the award are as slim as Jay Mariotti finding a soulmate.
It's just not happening.
Here are five reasons why.
In the history of both the NBA and ABA, there have been a combined 65 MVP Awards dished out. Only three have gone to a player shorter than 6'5".
Steve Nash (6'3") won it in consecutive seasons, 2005 and 2006. Allen Iverson (6'0") won it in 2001. Bob Cousy (6'1"), the first guard to get the award, took it home in 1957.
The 6'3" Rose clearly isn't coming close to matching what Iverson did in 2001 (31 points per game; led team of nobodies to 2nd-best record in the league) nor is he the popular front man for the most fun-to-watch show in town, which is exactly what Nash was for the Phoenix Suns.
The closest Isiah Thomas, arguably the greatest little man in NBA history, came to winning the award was a 5th-place finish in 1984.
Anything is possible, but it's obvious the smaller the player, the less likely he is to win the MVP.
34 games into the season, Rose is posting some impressive numbers, mainly points per game (23.8) and assists per game (8.3), but both just barely rank within the top ten in each category (9th in ppg, 8th in apg).
The two categories in which he ranks best, 5th and 6th, respectively, are field goal attempts and turnovers.
As for the statistics that truly correlate to serious MVP consideration, PER (Player Efficiency Rating) and Win Shares, Rose ranks 18th and 15th.
Of the past 20 MVP winners, only three didn't finish in the top five in both PER and Win Shares. Kobe Bryant, who in 2008 finished 4th in Win Shares but only 8th in PER, and--you guessed it--Steve Nash and Allen Iverson.
In 2006, Nash ranked 12th in PER and 10th in Win Shares. In 2005, he ranked 15th in PER and 15th in Win Shares. However, in both seasons, he led the league in assists per game, posted phenomenal shooting percentages, and his team averaged 58 wins.
In 2001, Iverson ranked 7th in PER and 10th in Win Shares. Of course, he won the scoring title, scored 40 or more points in a game 17 times, and his team won 56 games despite him missing 11 with injuries.
In Rose's case, the numbers just don't stand out enough.
In nine of the past 10 seasons, the MVP has come from the team with best or 2nd-best record. The anomaly was (once again) Steve Nash, whose Phoenix Suns won 54 games (4th-best) in the loaded West despite not having Amar'e Stoudemire.
The Chicago Bulls are currently on pace for 55 wins and the 6th-best record overall. And with Joakim Noah out recuperating from a torn thumb, and a brutal upcoming schedule that features a stretch where 12 of 16 games are on the road, the Bulls' win percentage will surely dip over the next two months.
If Rose has any shot of staying in this race, the Bulls must continue to win close to 65 percent of their games. For that to happen, the seemingly forever-hobbled Carlos Boozer must stay upright and productive.
I would agree the idea of Carlos Boozer stealing MVP votes from Derrick Rose seems a bit ridiculous. However, statistical analysis proves the notion isn't as far-fetched as it sounds.
The Chicago Bulls are 9-6 (.600) without Boozer and 14-5 (.737) with him. The Bulls are 10-2 when he plays at least 30 minutes per game.
While Rose is certainly the engine of the team, Boozer's efficient low-post scoring (20 points per game on 54 percent shooting) might just be more important to the Bulls than anything else.
Quick... Who's the best point guard in the NBA?
If you answered Derrick Rose, you're either a Bulls fan or you're playing way too much NBA 2k11.
While there's no denying Rose has elevated his play this season, or even arrived, as some would say, his name or brand has yet to reach the level of Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Steve Nash. He's gotten closer, but he's still sitting alongside Rajon Rondo, somewhere between the bottom of the 1st tier and the top on the 2nd tier.
Of course, we can debate such subjective analysis all day, but what we can't ignore is the statistical data. Let's look at how 10 point guards rank this season:
Looking at these statistics, what exactly about Rose's numbers stick out? Let's look at the chart in a different way, by how these players rank in each category:
|Name||FG %||3PT%||FT%||PPG||APG||TPG||SPG||PER||WS||Avg. Rank|
Rose ranks in the top five among point guards in PER and Win Shares, which is great, but right there with him are Paul, Nash, Williams and Westbrook. Again, I ask, what makes Rose stick out among his peers?
Paul is leading the league in both PER and Win Shares, not to mention steals per game, and assist-turnover ratio. He's 3rd in assists per game and 5th in three-point percentage. Furthermore, he's single-handedly carrying a broke franchise, one that is facing possible contraction, to a 6th seed in the Western Conference.
You can disagree all you want, but the reality is Rose barely has a case for most valuable point guard, let alone most valuable player.
Based on the relevant historical criteria laid out in this article--team success, Win Shares and PER--the top candidates are:
|Name||PER Rank|| |
|Proj. Team Wins||Proj. Team Win Rank||Avg. Rank|
Now, we know it's tough for little guys to win the award. Thus, for argument's sake, let's toss out Paul, Williams, Rose and Westbrook.
Then we have a bunch of guys who are clearly going to steal votes from one another. Let's toss out LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant (because of Westbrook), and Paul Pierce (thanks Kevin Garnett and Rondo).
This leaves us with Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Manu Ginobili, and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Toss out Ginobili, just because he's underpublicized and plays along Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, two guys who could also steal votes.
I'm comfortable believing Nowitzki, Howard, and Stoudemire are the three strongest candidates. Toss James, Wade and Paul back into the mix and you have your six most realistic and likely MVP candidates.
Sorry, Rose. You might get one someday, but it won't be this year.