You Make The Call: Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook




Earlier this week, I had Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak and Ethan Strauss of Warriors World and HoopSpeak come on the SBG Show (podcast can be found here) to talk about some NBA basketball. During our conversation, Beckley made the statement that Russell Westbrook was a better player than Derrick Rose. Now given the fact that I never pondered the idea, it completely caught me off guard.

How could a guy that backed up Rose during the World Championships all of a sudden be considered a superior player to the former Memphis Tigers star? My whole argument during the podcast relied upon the notion that Officer Rick Rose’s shot selection trumped Westbrook’s. Indeed, Rose has a great understanding of where to get his points (in the lane and at the top of the key) whereas the former UCLA Bruin shows a bit less discrimination in his attempts.

Look at the data compiled by Hoopdata on Rose’s field goal attempts:

DERRICK
ROSE

RANGE
FGM
FGA
FG%
Shots at the rim
3.4
5.9
57.8
Less than 10 feet
2.2
4.1
54.4
10-15 feet
0.7
2.2
32.3
16-23 feet
2.6
5.9
45.0
Threes
1.3
3.9
33.3

So what should jump out at you is that Rose takes most of his shots from the spots on the floor from which he is most effective. Now let’s view the same type of data for Westbrook:


RUSSELL
WESTBROOK

RANGE
FGM
FGA
FG%
Shots at the rim
3.9
6.7
57.9
Less than 10 feet
0.7
2.0
33.3
10-15 feet
1.0
2.8
35.3
16-23 feet
1.8
4.4
40.0
Threes
0.3
1.2
25.0

With Westbrook, you can see that his shots seem a bit more spread out on the court.

So that sealed the argument for me until I realized that I was comparing both players with tunnel vision (kind of like what Lakers fans do when they compare Kobe Bryant to just about every other player in NBA history). Westbrook and Rose are far more than just scorers. Indeed, as point guards, they are asked to do a plethora of things for teams such as run the offense, contain the other team’s point guard and create offense late in the shot clock.

The thing that eluded me with Westbrook is that he brings all those things to the table and then some. The Thunder’s star point guard is scoring north of 24 points per game this season and in addition is the primary ball handler and table setter for his team much like Rose. The difference between the players lies in the rebounding and defense. Indeed, Westbrook is sticking his nose into traffic to get rebounds and has also done a great job defending opposing guards this season (heck he even picks them up full court at times, how many star point guards do that?). Also, he’s managed to get into passing lanes to force turnovers which lead to easy baskets.

Rose on the other hand is not quite the rebounder but he isn’t trailing by much either. Also, he’s a decent defender but will never be confused to be a defensive stopper. His strengths are beneficial mostly on the offensive end.

Westbrook is a terrific two way player that must be accounted for on every possession. Remember how earlier in the season Durant was everyone’s pick for MVP? Turns out they might have had the team right, but the player wrong. Westbrook’s performance this season has been nothing short of spectacular and yet efficient. His numbers for the season:
24.1 PPG, 8.7 APG, 5.6 RPG, 2.1 SPG

 Although they will never say it, I can just hear Beckley and Ethan right now saying in unison: “told you so brother”. In my defense, I was blinded by Rose’s swagger, crossover (Tyreke’s ankles just threw out some gang signs at Rose) and the tomahawk dunk he put on the Knicks earlier this season. Is that an acceptable defense? Probably not, but admit it, you sympathized with me though right?

Image courtesy of ESPN.

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at Shyne@Sbgorillas.com. You can also find me on Twitter with the handle name ShyneIV.


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