Derrick Rose Is Still Better Than Chris Paul

Posted: January 12, 2012 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Basketball, Columns, NBA, Through Both Lenses
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

And he's better than these guys too.

Hypothesis

I don’t know many who still fly the banner for Chris Paul in this debate. I know the creator of the recently departed Free Darko does. I’m sure a few at ESPN do as well. I usually avoid Sportcenter when I can. I don’t really need useless insight to validate what I feel as a fan. Their format has become too much flash for me, I need more substance. I don’t need a useless debate show format to get it either. ESPN has become a caricature of what it used to be, but that’s for another day.

Derrick has yet to implement the array of tools that even an older Chris Paul has at his disposal. Rose’s court vision could use improvement, he could become a better on the ball defender, he could learn a thing or two about ball control from a younger Chris Paul, but that’s the thing, we aren’t looking at a younger Chris Paul anymore. We are watching a Chris Paul that disappeared late in the game against the Heat. We are looking at a Chris Paul that has a busted knee and limited lift. Yes, this version of CP3 had an outstanding game. It was a glimpse into the past, when Chris Paul could make the argument for being the league’s most valuable player and he was without a doubt the best point guard in the league.

Derrick Rose is now better than Chris Paul. I’ll even take it the extra step and say Derrick Rose is a better point guard than Chris Paul. If you want your world to be defined by rigidity, where the point guard passes and gets assists, then yes, I can see why someone would try to make the argument that Chris Paul is better at the 1.

It’s just not true anymore. This is a different NBA world we occupy. Derrick Rose is just better.

Analytics

These usually provide a dual edged sword here, but we can attempt to contextualize some numbers here.

The simple numbers tell you that Rose is a better scorer, and Paul is a better distributor. This passes the eye test as well. Rose is scoring 20.7 ppg. and 8.6 apg. Chris Paul is at 16.1 ppg. and 8.8 apg.

Paul is also getting 2 more steals per game than Rose, and is leading the league in steals. The difference in assists isn’t that great, and the gulf in points seems bigger than it actually is. Rose is the better scorer, but Paul is the more efficient player. CP3 is putting up an amazing FG percentage right now. Rose isn’t quite the efficient scorer Paul is. His FG% can be seen here.

What you’ll also see on 82games is the Off. number and Def. number. These represent how many points per possession their team allows when that player is on the floor. Paul’s Off number is 1.14, meaning per 100 possessions Paul’s Clippers will score 114 points when he’s out there. Rose’s Off number is 1.1, which translates to 110 points per possession when Rose is on the floor. This number is a lot smaller than I anticipated. Take into account that Paul is dishing to Blake Griffin in a wide open offense and Derrick’s second option is a heavy footed PF who shoots fade-a-ways. I didn’t think the Bulls would be that close to the Clippers. The Def. rating is very misleading in this case, Rose has a .95 while Paul is at 1.11. This has more to do with the team defense than anything, but something can be said for Paul losing a step and a half post surgery.

What you can also see in the numbers is a validation of what your eyes tell you. Chris Paul takes jumpers while Rose drives for layups more often. Paul attempts a jump shot 78% of the time. Rose, 64%. CP3 attempts a close shot 22% of the time. Rose, 35%.

Conclusions

Paul is the more efficient scorer, but more efficient doesn’t always equal better. In the case of Paul, he is working with an offensively superior team. His second option is much better than the Bulls second option. He is perhaps the smarter point guard, but at this stage in his career, Rose is the better player. Rose is upping the offensive value of his teammates. 1.1 points per possession is not a small number, and we wouldn’t exactly call the Bulls an offensively savvy team. So what gives with the small gap between the Clippers and Bulls from an offensive standpoint? Lob City was supposed to be Showtime on steroids.

Derrick Rose maximizes the talent on the Bulls, and perhaps that comes with playing together for so long. It’s his drives to the basket and willingness to score that separates him from Paul. CP3 is a distributor, but he is now behind Rose in the PG battle, and will stay there. He had an amazing game, but don’t forget that Paul disappeared late in that game and was clearly inferior to Rose in their previous match-up this season.

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