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Why Derrick Rose Should Not Win MVP

Jovan Buha |
April 8, 2011 | 8:11 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Derrick Rose is not the best MVP candidate (Creative Commons).
Derrick Rose is not the best MVP candidate (Creative Commons).
Bulls Guard Derrick Rose is by far the favorite to win NBA MVP. But he shouldn't win it. Before the Rose fans have a mental breakdown, hear me out.

Rose is among the elite point guards in the league, boasting remarkable statistics of 25.1 points, 7.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. Here’s the problem: Other than scoring and distributing the ball (possibly), what skill is he elite in?

Rose isn’t even the best point guard in the NBA. If you’re not the best at your respective position, how are you deserving of the Most Valuable Player award?

There is no doubt the man can score. He leads point guards in scoring and is amongst the top ten in the NBA. But how efficient is he in scoring? Well, his .441 field goal percentage is good for 15th amongst point guards, and his .334 three-point percentage ranks 28th amongst his competition.

Rose does rank in the top ten among PGs in several categories, though: Field goal makes/attempts, three-point makes/attempts, free throw-makes/attempts, rebounds (actually impressive), blocks, double-doubles and assists.

That’s actually an impressive list, except for one major trend: shots. Rose has attempted over 200 more shots than any other point guard. With that many shot attempts, it's almost inevitable he will make more than anyone else.

The same goes for three-pointers. He has attempted more threes than the likes of sharpshooters Steve Nash and Stephen Curry. Rose will never, ever, be better than either of those players at three-pointers, yet he still jacks up about five per game (over six per game during the past month).

What about Player Efficiency Rating, a statistical measure that focuses on the offensive side of basketball more than the defensive? Rose just moved up, and ranks 2nd amongst point men (unsurprisingly, he has ranked as low as 4th for most of season), and is 7th-best overall (though he has been outside of top ten for most of the season.)

Over the past ten seasons, every MVP has been within the top seven in PER, except for three odd cases (Allen Iverson ’01 and Steve Nash ’05, ’06). These three MVP seasons have been highly debated -- labeled as seasons that Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant, respectively, should have won, as they were clearly the best players at the time.

In fact, check Rose’s numbers this season and Iverson’s numbers in his 2000-01 MVP season. They are nearly identical. This is no knock on Iverson, but he was not a true MVP. The fact the 76ers were competitive boosted his value, yet that shouldn’t matter. The MVP is about who’s the best player.

For those who claim PER favors big men, why have LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant been amongst the league leaders the past few seasons? They’re all versatile, efficient players who are elite in multiple categories and have an impact on both sides of the basketball court.

For example, take LeBron James or Dwight Howard (the two other leading MVP candidates). Each is clearly the best player at their position. Can you say Rose is clearly better than Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo or Russell Westbrook? No, and the statistics prove it.

Nonetheless, the Chicago Bulls are a heart-warming story. But to be honest, most of that resides on the additions of head coach Tom Thibodeau, Carlos Boozer and a deeper bench.

Coach Thibodeau is amongst the league leaders for the Coach of The Year award after implementing the league’s top defense in Chicago. He is a tough, no-nonsense type of guy, and his team has learned to play that way. Without him, this team would be a lot worse (at least 5-10 games worse, which would result in the 3-seed at best).

Forward Carlos Boozer, the main off-season addition, is another major contributor for Chicago. He has provided them with an average of 18 points and 9 rebounds when healthy, adding the low-post scoring, toughness, and additional rebounding they’ve always lacked.

How about their bench? With the likes of Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson, Omer Asik, Kurt Thomas and CJ Watson, the Bulls have one of the strongest and deepest benches in the NBA.

Statistically, the best defensive line-up in the NBA is Chicago’s bench lineup. Think about that. Their bench lineup plays better defense than the starting lineups in Chicago, Miami, Boston, Orlando, L.A., Dallas or Oklahoma City. Besides Coach Thibodeau, Chicago’s bench may be their biggest reason for success.

Let’s take a further look at Chicago as a whole. They are tied for 12th in offensive efficiency, and first in defensive efficiency. Clearly this team is much better at defense.

In addition, they average the 20th most points in the NBA, yet give up the second-least amount of points. They’re 16th in FG%, 13th in 3PT%, and 14th in points per shot. Basically, their offense is average at best.

Therefore, despite Rose "carrying" the Bulls' offense (last time I checked, Boozer and Deng are each averaging almost 20 points per game), it is their defense that is actually winning them games.

This is where Rose’s MVP argument ends. Of Chicago’s top-nine rotation players, Rose has the worst defensive +/-. For those who aren't familiar with the stat, Rose is statistically the 9th-best defender on the team. And looking at the numbers, there’s actually a major drop-off from the 8th-best defender and Rose.

You know who's the 8th-best defender and ahead of Rose? Carlos Boozer. Yes, Boozer, the 6’9 power forward who barely plays any defense whatsoever.

To recap, Rose "carries" a mediocre offense, and actually hurts a great defense. The ways the Bulls win (rebounding and defense – they lead the league in both) aren’t Rose’s strengths. Therefore, his impact is somewhat overrated. Is that MVP-worthy?

Despite what statistics say, Rose will probably still win MVP. This bandwagon has been developing since November, and has gained too much speed to be stopped. The Bulls will finish with the top record out East. But the race is not as clear-cut as some people think (last year’s LeBron James MVP award was clear-cut, for example.)

Rose is an amazing player. He has terrific speed and athleticism, and can finish at the rim among the best of them. He has a desire to win and improve on a game that’s matched by few (only Kobe Bryant has a better work ethic, in my opinion.) Rose also dazzles the crowd every night. One night he’ll pull off a spectacular cross-over; the next, an in-your-face dunk. He's a walking highlight reel, and the fans love it.

But the criteria people use to decide the MVP tend to go as follows: Is he the league's best player? (No, LeBron James is). Is he the most important to his team? (No, Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Paul are all more important to their respective teams). Is he the best player on the best team? (No, Kobe Bryant is). Basically, Rose doesn’t pass any of the necessary criteria. To be honest, he’s not even a top-five overall player.

In addition, it’s not like Rose will never have another chance to be MVP. He has the next ten years or so to compete for the award. Let’s give him a chance to further develop into the league’s clear-cut best player, if he ever does.

If he’s your MVP choice, so be it. The mistake has been made before, anointing two previous point guards who shouldn’t have received their MVPs. All I'm saying is take a long, hard look, and evaluate the MVP race from all angles. You’ll find there are other players (specifically Dwight Howard or LeBron James) who are more deserving of the award.



To reach Jovan Buha, click here. Follow him on Twitter @JovanBuha.

Find more of Jovan's work at The Buha Chronicles.



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