Why? The precocious third year PG has resurrected the recently forlorn Bulls and has them within striking distance of perennial Eastern power Boston Celtics and the Three Wise Men in Miami.
Rose, posting stellar per game averages of nearly 25 points and 8.2 assists, has certainly done enough this season for his name to be included annually on the hierarchy of contenders for The League’s top award.
The Bulls aren’t just 34-16—they’re 34-16 with star big men Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer missing significant time. For the vast majority of the year, Rose has been without one of his top two players and Chicago is still on its way to a division championship and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Rose’s personal numbers and achievements of his team alone is reason enough for him to garner legitimate MVP talk. Combined with the fact that he is the Bulls’ first All-Star starter since Michael Jordan and has almost single-handedly made basketball relevant again in one of the NBA’s biggest markets, it’s no surprise media members are clamoring for him to sit atop LeBron James’ current throne as League MVP.
There are other issues with anointing Rose MVP in addition to market bias, chief among them the lack of statistics supporting his candidacy. Chicago’s lead man has a solid Player Efficiency Rating of 22.95, a metric which measures his efforts solely on the offensive end of the floor.
The problem for Rose? Not only is that number just 14th best in the league, but Rose and his band of merry men rank a below-average 17th among NBA teams in offensive efficiency.
Evidently, with Rose running the show the Bulls have been nothing short of fantastically ordinary on the offensive end of the floor.
The overwhelming reason for Chicago’s success? Their exploits on the other end.
First year coach Tom Thibodeau has morphed the Bulls into the NBA’s most suffocating defensive squad, as Chicago leads all teams in defensive efficiency by allowing a mere 97.2 points per 100 possessions.
Not even the Celtics—consistently elite defensively since acquiring Kevin Garnett in 2007—are so effective defending their Hallowed half of the basketball court.
Here is where Rose’s candidacy—by objective measures, at least—falls from the heavens: Among Chicago’s regular contributors, only two players allow more points per possession than Rose’s 1.04 and the Bulls’ opposing PG’s PER of 14.3 is just third (out of five, of course) on the team.
Rose, admittedly, has improved his defense a great deal under the guise of Thibodeau, but shouldn’t an MVP shepherd his team’s best statistical venture? Rose, leader of a mediocre offense and follower among the league’s best defense, does not fit that criteria.
For that reason, a MVP vote for Rose a is a sin, one that votes for flair, excitement and the rejuvenation of a historic basketball city rather than results on the court.
That’s not what the MVP Award is about. So, find the confessional, media and fans alike.
It’s not too late to atone.