The Overrated MVP

He became the youngest player ever to be named the Most Valuable Player.

Derrick Rose has won the MVP in just his third year in the league.  He is also a three time All Star and a member of the All NBA First Team in 2011.  Moreover, his team has experienced success. The Chicago Bulls had the best record in the league two years in a row.

He has been regarded by many as the best point guard in the league. Whenever the topic comes up, people list Derrick Rose in the top 3.

On the other hand of Derrick Rose, there is Russell Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook is also a budding star in this league. He is a two time All Star and a two time member of the All NBA Second Team (2010 and 2011).  His team also experienced immense success. The Oklahoma City Thunder won the Northwest Division two years in a row. Last year the Thunder made it to the Western Conference Final and this year, they made it to the NBA Final.

The two players also have similar playing styles. Both rely on their incredible athleticism and relentlessly attack the basket. Both are a nightmare for opposing guards because they are quicker, stronger, and bigger. Bottom line, they are both score-first point guards.

Lets compare their career averages:

These are pretty simliar numbers. Both of the players can score although not efficiently (both shooting below 45%).  Assists and turnovers, the main criterion for point guards, are pretty much the same among the two players.

Yet, people generally love Derrick Rose as a point guard and hate Russell Westbrook as a point guard.

People criticize Russell Westbrook  for shooting too much and turning the ball over often. However, he and Rose both shoot about the same percentage and turn the ball over almost equally often. They say that Westbrook isn’t a pure point guard. He can’t distribute the ball. But Derrick Rose is also not a pure point guard.

The main difference that people mention between the two is the fact that Russell Westbrook plays with Kevin Durant and Derrick rose does not. Kevin Durant is the three time reigning scoring champion. He can flat out score. People ask, “why doesn’t Westbrook give the ball to Durant more often instead of shooting it himself?”

But the Oklahoma City Thunder needs Russell Westbrook to shoot. The starting five for the team is Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Ibaka, and Perkins. Other than Durant and Westbrook, none of those players are a scoring threat. As a result, people often double team Durant. When Russell Westbrook is scoring, opportunities open up for Durant and OKC becomes more versatile on offense. Durant also has a problem getting the ball sometimes. Against physical defense he shies away. He can disappear for stretches without getting the ball. If Durant really wants the ball, he should come get it.

Derrick Rose also needs to score but his teammate are not scrubs. Luol Deng is an All Star, Carlos Boozer was an All star (although not as good as he used to be), Joakim Noah is a legitimate big man. These three players are better scoring options than Sefolosha, Ibaka, and Perkins. In fact, the Bulls still had a winning record (15-7) while Rose was not playing. Thus, the Bulls are a formidable team with legit scoring options.

Therefore, the criticism that applies to Westbrook should apply to Derrick Rose too. Both are not true point guards. He often shoots too much and a lot of his shots are also very hard shots (he makes it because of his unbelievable body control and athleticism). But at one point, those shots aren’t going to fall and he is going to need a way to score more easily. His passing skills are also nowhere near those of other point guards such as Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, and even Ricky Rubio.

Derrick Rose’s defense is nothing special. Despite his explosiveness, he averages less than a steal. Steals are not indicative of good defense but they do show how active a player is in the passing lane. In comparison, Russell Westbrook plays great defense and averages 1.6 steals.

Remember the Allen Iverson? His main criticism was similar to that of Russell Westbrook. Lets take a look at his averages the first four years

Although just as inefficient as the previous two, he was a much better scorer but had one less assists per game.

Allen Iverson’s team was much worse than that of Derrick Rose. He was actually the only constant scoring threat on his team. Yet, he was still criticized for shooting too much. If the difference between Westbrook and Rose (how Westbrook gets criticized because he has a better scoring option on his team) applies to this situation, shouldn’t Rose, the one with a better team yet similar numbers, get criticized?

I am not saying that Derrick Rose is the same player as AI. I am just pointing out to the fact that they were both considered point guards. Also, I am not saying that Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook are on the same level. I believe Rose is better than Westbrook at this point of their careers. Rose has become a better distributor while turning the ball over less. However, he still has the same fundamental flaws as Westbrook and AI; they have a score-first mentality. People have generally been wary of this type of point guard leading a team.

I enjoy watching Derrick Rose and wish a full recovery from his awful injury. However, he is being overrated as a point guard. He has long ways to go before he becomes a top three point guard in the league.

 

photo credit: Prismatico

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