What’s in a name?

Posted on 10/05/2010 by


…What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
Romeo and Juliet

One of the many famous phrases from the bard and a favorite of those attempting to pitch woo. But the story goes that Shakespeare was making a joke at the expense of the Rose Theatre, a local rival to his Globe Theatre, who’s batrooms were not up to par. This may be a legend or it may be true, much like the sweet nothings being whispered in a ladies ear. The point of this is that what our eyes and ears tell us isn’t always the case. Sometimes perception doesn’t match reality,ย  sometimes it does and sometimes it tantalizingly might. That is how we come to perplexing case of Derrick Rose.

Derrick Rose is an all-star. Derrick Rose was the rookie of the year. Derrick Rose is a World Champion. These are all facts.

Derrick Rose was not really playing like an all-star. Derrick Rose was not the best rookie in his class. These are also facts.

But what is the truth? Is he a star or is he overrated? The truth is never quite so straightforward.

A Rose by the numbers

Truth is truth
To the end of reckoning.
William Shakespeare, “Measure for Measure”, Act 5 scene 1

For newcomers, go here for the Basics.

When I did my Bulls review, A lot of readers were surprised that Rose, while the leading scorer for the Bulls was not the most productive. Let’s look at Rose’s number for last season (versus the other 148 guards who played more than 400 minutes in 2010) to explain:

I looked at basic statistics per 48 minutes as well as sho0ting % (Field Goal, 3 Point and Free Throws) as well as points per attempt (just Points divided by Field Goal attempt as I want to give credit for free throws drawn and converted). Compared to other guards in the league last season, Rose was a better shooter in overall FG% but worse at 3P% and FT%. This meant that he generated points at just slightly above league average. He did score almost eight more points a game than average but it took him 6.5 more attempts to get it done. He was above average in assists. The possession stats (Rebounding, Steals & Turnover),ย  however where not good placing him very near the bottom of the league for guards. So overall he was good with assists, average at converting attempts to points and bad at getting/losing the rock for his team. If we use the composite stats (Wins Per 48 (WP48) and Wins Score per 48 (WSP48)) we see that he was slightly above average and just about the level for a starter but very definitely not a star.

To drive home this point, let’s look at how Rose compares against the very best point guards in the league:

Rose scores more than them but he does it much less efficiently. The difference in overall scoring is more than made up by the elite Point Guards because of superior passing (as reflected in assists). All but Nash are better at posession stats as well (but Nash is just a ridiculous passer). At this point you may be thinking that this comparison is unfair, he’s young and a star for his age. We can look at his peers though to get some perspective:

There were three other 21 Year old guards in the league last year who played more than 400 minutes: Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and Rodrigue Beuabois. Westbrook was a worse scorer but better at everything else. Curry was the superior shooter, better at possessions and almost across the board except for raw scoring. Beaubois (granted in limited time) was better at everything but fouls,assists and offensive rebounds. Westbrook and Beaubois were better in both the overall metrics WP48 and WSP48. Curry was superior in WP48 and behind in WSP48. So against his peers Rose was overall a slightly below average player.

The final argument for Rose is that he creates more points than other point guards. To counter this point I made up a statistic on the spot :-). I calculated :

  • Net possessions generated by the player per 48 minutes = (REBS+STL-TO).
  • Net Possesions Spent by the player per 48 minutes=(FGA + Assists)
  • Net Possesions Used by the player per 48 minutes = (FGA + Assists) -(REBS+STL-TO)
  • Points Generated by Team as a result of the player per 48 minutes = (Pts + 2.17*Assists) (2.17 is the avg points per field goal converted for 2010)
  • Points Created per Possesion Used equal to Points generated by team/Net possessions used

The results look as follows:

This table is extremely illustrative. Rose generated the 12 most offense of any guard in the league on a per minute basis last year but he was in the bottom twenty percent in converting possessions into points. In 2010, when you saw the Bulls play against the majority of the league, Rose looked like the most offensive player on the court but the numbers reveal that this offense had a great cost. He was a 300 million dollar movie that generated 300 million dollars last year.

So in the 2010 regular, Rose was a good but inefficient player that didn’t watch the hype but don’t worry Bulls fans cause that’s not where the story ends.

A Rose in Bloom?

Derrick Rose is twenty two years old. Derrick Rose raised his WP48 from .053 in the first half of 2010 to .153 in the second half. If we look at point guards at 22 years of age over the last five seasons (13 in total):

Eight of 13 have improved, five have improved significantly. Rose is giving indications of doing just that. Yes he’s been inefficient but he got better. Bulls management has certainly given him all the tools (better coach, better teammates) to move him in the right direction.

The reckoning is at hand for Rose. To be a star or not to be a star,that is the question and for the Bulls that may make all the difference between disappointment and a ticker tape parade down Michigan Avenue.

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