On the Sports Reporters parting shots, Israel Guitierrez smugly lets lets us know that the "real reason" that Derrick Rose is the front-runner for the MVP race has nothing to do with basketball; it's because Rose is the "flavor of the month."
Of course that begs the question, why is Rose the flavor the month, or for that matter, the months?
Guitierrez says that Rose is the new "iPad" and Howard is the old "iPad." How exactly Howard, who has never won an MVP award, is the old "iPad" isn't really explained by Guitierrez, but let's be realistic: It's clear that intellectual honesty wasn't really his goal.
We know this because Guitierrez explains his position that if you consider the numbers (including wins), Howard, Kobe and even Dirk are better options. Really Israel? Did you check the standings before you smugly stated this fact? Of those players, all their respective teams have fewer wins than Rose and the Bulls.
Now of course, maybe he didn't mean that they had more wins, but that little emphasis on "even wins" that he puts in his voice leads me to conclude that he actually means "even wins." Maybe I'm just a word geek and I'm getting all trapped by things like the meanings of words.
He then goes on to emphatically state that the Magic would be worse without Howard than the Bulls would be without Rose. The old "argument from omniscience" fallacy, and one of the best when it comes to this award.
It does little good to argue or who would be worse without whom, or for that matter, who has been worse without whom. The MVP isn't the most "would have had" value Player. It's the Most Valuable Player, so that means it's not a question of who would be worse without whom, but who is better with whom.
The fact of the matter is that the Bulls are better with Rose. And let's not just toss out the old, "well he gets more help from his teammates" argument without putting it to the test, either. Nor is that important. What matters is who helps his teammates more.
Rose commands tremendous attention when he has the ball. He commands double and triple teams. This leads defenders away from the basket and towards him. That's not just theory, it's fact.
When Derrick Rose is on the court the team's offensive rebounding percentage goes up 2.3 percent. That's not just because he's a better rebounder, it's because other teams are emptying out the lane. In fact, 32 percent of the Bulls missed field goals are recovered by the Bulls.
That's nearly one third. It's also why his own missed field goal attempts are not as much of a concern. When one of every six missed field goals goes back in the basket anyway, efficiency matters less. Don't think it doesn't. The Bulls are 38-13 (.745) when they have at least 10 offensive rebounds.
Furthermore, when Derrick Rose is on the court, in spite of the fact that all four other starters have a higher effective field goal percentage than he does, the overall FG percentage is 4.5 percent higher just by his being on the court.
When you factor in his usage rate, and take his shots out of the equation, that means that his teammates make roughly the equivalent of 52 percent of their shots when he's on the court and 46.5 percent when he's off the court if you adjust for threes. Effectively, that means a difference of about four more baskets a game, just by Rose being on the court.
There's an offensive system designed around Derrick Roses' talents and his ability to drive to the rim. His ability with the ball commands so much attention that it frees up his teammates. He can beat you scoring or passing.
When he has less than eight assists, but more than 20 points, the Bulls are 28-10 (.736). When he scores less than 20 but has more than eight assists, they are 8-4 (.667). When he has more than 20 points and more than eight assists, they are 20-7 (.741). Even on those rare occasions where he does neither, they are 6-3.
He'll beat you with his scoring and passing, he'll beat you with one or the other, and if he has to, he'll find a way to beat you with neither because he make his teammates better.
When people argue that Howard affects every possession while he's on the court, I doubt they consider that. In fact I don't think they consider much on how to explain their position. Certainly, when Howard has the ball he's a monster. On defense he's a monster.
However, there's a system designed around Howard, too. Stan Van Gundy's system is for the Magic shooters to knock down threes, tons of them, to stretch the court and enable Howard to be under the basket in one-on-one defense.
When it works, it works great. The Magic are 38-15 (.716) when they make at least eight threes. When they make fewer than that they are 16-13 (.551). When the Magic lose Howard scores 24.1; when they win he scores 22.8.
If we're trying to see what has the bigger impact on the Magic, it's not Howard that makes them go, it's the perimeter shooters. If you're going to talk about numbers and "winning," then you have to consider these numbers.
These numbers show that Rose makes his teammates better and that's why they win. Howard needs his teammates to play better in order to win.
Now of course Rose has a big edge on Howard in that he's a ball handler and that's a fair argument. Of course there's also inherit advantages to Howard's position and some of the other numbers that go along with that.
There's another number though that's shockingly compelling. At 82games.com they keep track of "clutch time" stats. They consider "clutch time" as the last five minutes of the game or overtime, with the score within five points. As of March 5, in 92 minutes of clutch time play, Dwight Howard had attempted 29 field goals.
By comparison, in 123 minutes of clutch time play, Derrick Rose had attempted 112 field goals. That's before the incredible month of March Rose has had where he's scored 34 points in 21 clutch time minutes.
From the line Rose was 36 of 41 (87 percent). Dwight Howard was 24 of 36 (67 percent). Derrick Rose had scored 43.2 points per 48 minutes of clutch time, Howard 25.0. As of right now the games since then have Rose over 48 points per 48 minutes.
Rose's performances have more than a little to do with the Bulls outscoring their opponents by 201 points in the fourth quarter this season, more than double the margin of any other team.
So this brings home the real reason that Rose deserves it over Howard, and on this Guitierrez is right: You have to look at the numbers and winning. The difference between Howard and Rose is that Rose's numbers have more to do with Chicago winning.
When the game is on the line you want the ball in Derrick Roses' hands and you don't want it in Howard's hands.
The other teams' strategy is to foul Howard. It hurts the Magic for him to touch the ball when the game is on the line. That's why Howard has more free throws than field goal attempts even though he's .722 from the field.
Derrick Rose is going to win games. He has won games. Since the loss at Atlanta, Rose has scored or assisted on 44 of the Bulls 52 clutch time points. Of the eight points he didn't contribute directly to, four were on two put backs. In the only game they lost, Rose fouled out after scoring nine points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter and four in overtime. The Bulls won the other five.
And that's the difference between them and why Rose is the MVP and Howard is not. When the game is on the line, you should want the ball in your MVP's hands, not out of it. You're MVP shouldn't complain about the players around not being better, he should make them better.
Derrick Rose does these things; Howard does not.
That's the real reason he's the MVP and the flavor of the month.
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