Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
Earlier today the always great Tom Ziller published a piece about Derrick Rose‘s MVP candidacy and how his inclusion in the race for the award means that Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russel Westbrook also deserves to be in the conversation for the Most Valuable Player award.
Ziller has a point, Westbrook’s production this similar is right on line with Rose’s in almost every statistical category and he’s following the same career path that Rose did only he’s a year younger in terms of experience in the NBA. Here are some of the uncanny similarities Ziller notes between Rose and Westbrook:
The basic per-game statistics for Rose and Westbrook are seriously similar. Rose averages 24.9 points and 7.8 assists per game; Westbrook is at 22.2 and 8.3. Each shoots 44 percent from the floor and a touch below average — 34 percent for Rose, 33 percent for Westbrook — from long-range. Westbrook draws almost eight free throws a game and shoots them quite well; Rose draws seven FTs on average, and shoots them quite well. Westbrook averages 4.6 rebounds per game; Rose, 4.2. Westbrook gives up 3.9 turnovers, Rose 3.4. Just under two steals for Westbrook, just more than one for Rose.
The similarities extend to advanced metrics. The guards’ True Shooting percentages — that measure total shooting efficiency, or points per shooting possession in percentage form — are virtually identical at just below average. They manage that efficiency at high, almost identical 32-percent usage rates. Westbrook’s assist rate is somewhat higher; Rose’s turnover rate is somewhat lower. PER? Rose is 23.3, Westbrook 23.7. But really, you’d have trouble tracking down more similar comparisons.
Their numbers are strikingly similar but I still give the edge to Rose because of his team’s performance. Rose has carried the Bulls to first place in the Eastern Conference despite missing his second and third best players for most of the season. Those second and third best players – Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah – are also complementary pieces to Rose while some will argue Westbrook is a complementary piece to Kevin Durant, making it hard for him to win the MVP award as he isn’t seen as the best player on his own team.
I’ve written about it before and I still think Westbrook is the best player on the Thunder so I think he meets that qualification on the MVP checklist. However, because of the amount of attention Durant attracts, Westbrook has a lot more room to operate than Rose does normally. Rose, on the other hand, is the focus of the defense’s gameplan each time he takes the floor and, like I said before, he hasn’t had a consistent second option all year long because of injuries. Rose gets the advantage there and though the numbers are eerily similar, if I were deciding between the two, I’d give the edge to Rose because he is asked to do more for his team, which has a better record on than Westbrook’s club.
All that being said, Dwight Howard has been the true MVP of the league this season but the hype Rose has generated will be too hard for Howard or Westbrook to overcome.