Chicago Bulls: Settling the Derrick Rose vs. Russell Westbrook Debate for Good
An argument I've heard countless times over the past few seasons has been one that states that if you replace Derrick Rose with Russell Westbrook on the Chicago Bulls, they would be just as successful.
I beg to differ.
While Rose and Westbrook's skill sets may be similar, they're both two different animals.
I'm here to compare the two objectively, using statistics to see if the argument holds any weight. I'll be comparing the two on various categories, such as scoring, passing, etc.
So let's get started.
Side Note: This article is objective; the stats I've used are all facts and haven't been manipulated by me at all. I'm just giving you the information.
The most basic statistics we can look at are field goal percentage, three-point percentage and free-throw percentage, so I'll just give you a rundown of their basic stats before we proceed on to the more complex numbers:
From the overall standpoint, it's scary how close their shooting numbers really are, but are they telling the whole story?
Let's take a look.
In terms of scoring and scoring the ball well (i.e. within the flow of the offense), Westbrook lacks behind Rose. They are both designated slashers, so most of their points should come from near the basket. Rose seems to be a much much better mid-range shooter.
Westbrook shot just 36 percent last season from shots taken from 16-23 feet.
Rose was a bit better at 38 percent, but didn't blow Westbrook out of the water.
However, from 10-15 feet, Rose shot 42.0 percent, while Westbrook was at an atrocious 35.8 percent.
You come even closer to the basket, and yet Westbrook continues to not be impressive. He shot a pathetic 26.6 percent from field goals taken 3-9 feet from the basket. Rose was a much more efficient 39.7 percent.
Furthermore, whenever Westbrook took up 11-15 seconds of shot-clock usage and attempted a shot, it was blocked 8 percent of the time. He also shot just 40 percent on all non-blocked attempts during that time frame.
Rose, on the other hand, in the same amount of time was only blocked 5 percent of the time and shot a whole 10 percent higher at 50.0 percent.
The disparity grows even further when you look at 16-20 seconds and see that Westbrook gets blocked 11 percent of the time to Rose' seven percent. During this time-frame, Westbrook improved a bit at 44.5 percent, but still falls quite short of Rose' 50.4 percent
The answer is clear to me in terms of who is the better, more efficient scorer.
Now, here is where the overall numbers get really skewed.
Last season, Westbrook averaged a half assist more than Derrick Rose at 8.2, whereas Rose was at 7.7.
Looking at the numbers closely though, I can tell you that the disparity is not as high as you think; this is where the Kevin Durant advantage comes in for Russell Westbrook.
Out of 670 total assists, Westbrook had 321 of them come off jump shots and 136 off three-pointers. That's 68 percent of his assists coming off jump shots. You can assume Durant had a fair share to do with those made attempts, seeing as how he led the league in scoring last season.
Rose, on the other hand, had 209 of his assists come off mid-range jumpers and 105 off three-pointers. That's mainly the reason why Rose was not able to average as many assists as Westbrook—he doesn't have a superstar like Durant who can make jumpers left and right. Instead, Rose has to rely on Luol Deng and Keith Bogans as his two outside scorers.
So even though Westbrook clearly had many more assists, he was also put in a position where he had the right teammates to get him assists. Rose is the top dog in Chicago, so I can't penalize him if he has no one to pass to.
Rebounding is where Westbrook makes his name known.
He's clearly one of the best rebounding guards in the league and averaged more than 4.5 a game last season.
Rose wasn't too shabby himself, at a little more than four a game.
Westbrook grabbed a total of 379 rebounds on the season to Rose's 330. Westbrook also grabbed a lot more offensive rebounds than Rose, with 122 compared to Rose's 65.
Westbrook also grabbed more defensive rebounds, with 257 compared to Rose's 228.
I really don't need to go into more detail here—Westbrook is clearly the better rebounder.
Defensively, Rose and Westbrook aren't on the same level.
I'll be looking at some of their defensive impact while ON and OFF the floor.
The Thunder get a little better defensively when Westbrook is off the floor as opposed to on it. Their opponents averaged 109.3 points per game with Westbrook on the floor, and averaged just 104.4 with him off the floor.
The Bulls get slightly better defensively with Rose on the court. The Bulls' opponents average 106.2 points per game with Rose on the floor and 106.7 points with him on the bench.
Rose's DRtg (defensive rating; points allowed per 100 possessions) is 103, which is a little bit better than Westbrook's DRtg of 107.
Rose also has more defensive win shares (estimated number of wins contributed by a player due to his defense), with 4.8 compared to Westbrook, who is at 3.1.
Finally, Rose has a better block percentage than Westbrook, but Westbrook does have a better steal percentage.
Still, numbers don't lie. Rose is the superior defender.
Derrick Rose has bested Russell Westbrook in head-to-head matchups.
In six regular-season games played, Rose has averaged 20.8 points per game compared to Westbrook's 18.5. Also to be noted is the fact that Rose shot 48 percent in those games, while Westbrook was at 42 percent shooting.
Their assists numbers are close, but Rose wins once again, with nearly 6.5 assists per game compared to Westbrook's six. Rebounding-wise, Westbrook has the upper hand on Rose, with nearly 6.5 boards a game, while Rose comes in at nearly four boards a contest.
Their numbers are nearly identical in steals and blocks, as Rose averages more blocks a game while Westbrook averages more steals.
In terms of free-throw shooting, Rose is clearly better at 83 percent compared to Westbrook's 79 percent.
They've both also won three games against each other and have lost three.
Still, Rose gets the upper hand here, dominating in more categories.
IQ is also where Rose excels over his counterpart, Westbrook.
Westbrook was a turnover machine last year, leading the league in that category with 3.9 a game. He finished with the most turnovers in the league as well, with 316—32 more than the next highest total turnovers made by LeBron James with 284.
Rose was able to contain the ball at a better rate, averaging 3.4 a game, which was eighth in the league and behind other point guards such as John Wall, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash and Deron Williams. Rose also had a much better turnover-to-assist ratio than Westbrook, even though Westbrook averaged more assists and turnovers than Rose.
(Rose's assist-to-turnover ratio was 2.24, while Westbrook's was at 2.12.)
Furthermore, Westbrook threw 133 bad passes, had 132 ball-handling turnovers and was charged with 51 offensive fouls on the season.
Rose, on the other hand, threw just 102 bad passes, had 94 ball-handling turnovers and was charged with just 20 offensive fouls.
It's clear that Rose knows how to handle the ball better and runs the offense more without committing as many mistakes. Westbrook is still prone to many mistakes and lacks Rose's mental game.
Let's compare these two in the clutch.
Side Note: This only applies to games within which it went down to the wire, so fourth quarter or overtime, less than five minutes left and neither team ahead by more than five points.
First are the team statistics in crunch time with these two on the floor:
Westbrook's Thunder went 30-14 (68.2 percent).
Rose's Bulls went 24-16 (60 percent).
Individually, let's see how they performed:
Side Note: These numbers are skewed by per 48-minute statistics, so production per 48 minutes of clutch time.
Rose is second in the league at 47.8 points, behind only Kobe Bryant, while Westbrook is at 40.1 points.
The rest of Rose's stat line looks like this: 47.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 9.8 assists, 0.6 blocks, 2.0 steals.
The rest of Westbrook's stat line looks like this: 40.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.4 steals.
Rose' field-goal and free-throw percentages are higher, at 40.1 percent and 89 percent, while Westbrook is at 39 percent and 80 percent, respectively.
Rose clearly outplays Westbrook in the clutch and steps up the most when it matters.
Conclusion: Rose-y Outlook
Derrick Rose is clearly the better player.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Russell Westbrook is a poor man's Derrick Rose. Westbrook doesn't have the same level of talent, skill or IQ; he's simply a notch below in all three.
That's not taking anything away from Westbrook. He's a phenomenal player and will be for years to come, but he just doesn't stack up to the MVP.
You can't replace what Rose brings to the Bulls, you simply can't. So for those of you who still think replacing Rose with Russell Westbrook on the Bulls will yield the same result, I hope I've proven you wrong.
And if I haven't, show me a legitimate argument as to why the former is true.
I'll put it into perspective for all of you:
Derrick Rose is like that expensive authentic jersey you buy that is made of real fabric.
Russell Westbrook is just a cheap replica jersey that isn't as good as the real thing.