Derrick Rose: Is the Chicago Bulls MVP Really the Best Point Guard in the NBA?
This slideshow aims to compare Rose to his five top competitors and see whether Rose really has earned the title of top point guard in the NBA, or whether it's too early.
Since Derrick just had his breakout season this year, all the numbers in the direct match ups are from this year.
Rose vs Russell Westbrook
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Rose Key Advantages: Finishing at the basket, driving the lane, being the primary scorer, leadership
Westbrook Key Advantage: Dunking in traffic, rebounding
Rose vs: 19.5 ppg, 7.5 apg, 34.1% fg
Westbrook vs: 21.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 6.5 apg, 45.5% fg
The pick of Russell Westbrook with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 was questioned by many, including myself. Many asked whether a player who had been known as a combo—guard in college could find a niche in the NBA at the point guard position. What we have learned is that no matter what position you want to put him at, Russell Westbrook is a very good player.
Westbrook's main strengths are based around attacking the basket and balancing the playmaking responsibilities, which also are Rose's main strengths. However, Westbrook just does everything a little bit better than Westbrook, while also being the best player on his team. Even if you haven't bought into the Kevin Durant hype, he's still the best player on the team. Derrick Rose on the other hand is clearly the best player on the Chicago Bulls.
Verdict: Derrick Rose is just a better overall player than Russell Westbrook
Rose vs Steve Nash
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Rose Key Advantages: Driving the lane, scoring, defending, speed and athleticism
Nash Key Advantages: Passing, shooting
Rose vs: 27.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 5.5 apg, 41.7% fg
Nash vs: 10.0 ppg, 16.0 apg, 34.8% fg
Two time MVP Steve Nash is one of the top point guards in the game despite being 37 years old. He has always been one of the best pure shooters that the NBA has had to offer, and his passing game has been perhaps the best in the NBA since Magic Johnson.
However Nash has some key weaknesses against Rose. First of all, Nash couldn't defend a stationary chair. While Rose came into the league as a terrible defender, he has actually become an above average defender as proven by his 14 votes for the All-Defensive team and other metrics you can ask me about later. Nash also isn't the dynamic player that Rose is. He makes the smart plays but he's not a player you can ask to be the best player on the floor and win a game for you because that's just not how he plays.
Verdict: Derrick Rose edges out Steve Nash because he's a more complete player and because he's unstoppable when he needs to be
Rose vs Rajon Rondo
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Rose Key Advantages: Driving the lane, scoring, speed and athleticism
Rondo Key Advantages: Passing, defense
Rose vs: 26.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.8 apg, 47.9% fg
Rondo vs: 10.5 ppg, 4.8 apg, 44.4% fg
Rajon Rondo has established himself as a feared floor general and defender during his time on the Boston Celtics, including leading the league in assists last year. He has helped to make the Celtics' big three of Garnett, Allen and Pierce last for more time than anyone expected.
However his weakness is actually in his strength. Rondo is a player who makes other players better while he's on the floor. He himself is not an exceptional basketball player. As well, Rondo is not a player that you want to really do anything but pass on offense, including a deadly mid-range jumper. Deadly of course meaning that it kills his team's flow when he takes it.
Verdict: Derrick Rose is usually the best player on the floor when he stops on. Rondo is usually the fourth best player depending who's on the other team. It's really as easy as that.
Rose vs Deron Williams
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Rose Key Advantages: Scoring
Rondo Key Advantages: Passing
Rose vs: 25.0 ppg, 4.5 apg, 38.8% fg
Williams vs: 8.0 ppg, 11.5 apg, 24.0% fg
Ever since Chris Paul's injury woes have begun, Deron Williams has been called the best point guard in the league. Williams is one of the best passers in the league but also has the ability to score the ball. He is known also for his strength at the point guard position.
However Deron was also part of the Utah Jazz train wreck this year. After going through a stretch winning games in close fashion, Jerry Sloan was fired as the head coach. Of course we don't know why it happened, but rumor had it that Williams got into it with Sloan and that Utah thought this was a way to keep their star player. Eventually they traded Williams anyway.
Purely basketball-wise, Derrick Rose is a more reliable scorer while Deron Williams is a more reliable distributor. It's hard to compare the two because they're so different so I will look at team success over their career. The Jazz of a couple years ago and this Chicago Bulls team are relatively similar in terms of game plan and personnel. The most successful Jazz teams were led in scoring by Carlos Boozer and reached the Western Conference Finals once on the back of Boozer excelling in the playoffs. The Chicago Bulls were led by Derrick Rose's dominance to the Eastern Conference Finals in their first year together and the second player was not within ten points of Rose. The Jazz also never won 60 games.
Verdict: Derrick Rose gets the nod because he has never rebelled against his coach and because he did more with a similar team that Williams has had.
Rose vs Chris Paul
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Rose Key Advantages: Size, athleticism, scoring
Paul Key Advantages: Passing, playing the passing lanes
Rose vs: 23.0 ppg, 6.0 apg, 46.7% fg
Paul vs: 15.0 ppg, 6.0 apg, 30.0% fg
Chris Paul has been considered in the upper echelon of point guards ever since he entered the league. Those suspicions were only more confirmed when Paul averaged 22 points and 11.5 assists against the Lakers in the Hornets' first round series. Despite having a team that many consider to be poor, Paul almost single—handedly won two games against the defending champs. It is perceived that when Paul is at his best, he is one of the top players in the world.
And there lies the problem: when he's at his best. Paul missed almost half of the 2009-10 season and averaged under 16 and 10 in his comeback year. Those may be impressive numbers for many players, but not for Paul or any player who claims to be the best in the league. Paul's field goal percentage also dropped by three percent on the season. In his one matchup against Derrick Rose this season, Chris Paul was absolutely embarrassed in a Hornets loss as well.
Verdict: When Chris Paul is at his best, he is probably the best point guard in the league. However since he is not at his best very often anymore, Derrick Rose gets the nod due to consistency.
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While this is truly the age of the point guard, Derrick Rose leads the pack.
Some criticize Rose for being too focused on scoring and not focused enough on passing, but that's the role that he plays on the Chicago Bulls and that's the role that the Bulls need Rose to play to be successful. Even when Rose missed his one game this season, C.J Watson jumped in and took on the scoring load because that's the role that the point guard plays in Chicago's offense. You can't criticize Rose for executing the gameplan.
While there are some other options who have been around longer, Rose is just the most consistent and the most successful in his year of dominance. Perhaps this one year is a fluke and Rose's production will fall, but you can't try to create an argument based on hoping that Rose will all of a sudden fail. It's not like with injuries where they linger and you can assume they'll be back a la Chris Paul. You have to assume that this is who Derrick Rose is.
Among the younger point guards in the league, Rose is just a more complete and overall better player.
Until someone dethrones him, Derrick Rose is the best point guard in the game.