We get it, you don’t need to remind us Chicago — Derrick Rose is a stud. An MVP. One of the new faces of the game.
On top of all that, last season he played his best against the best defenses in the league.
Every summer over at Basketball-Reference Neil Paine does an interesting analysis — breaking out which players perform the best against the better than average defenses in the league? (With that, who fattens up their stats on the weak sisters of the league?) I won’t drag you into the math, but he uses advanced statistics to figure out the best defenses in the league, then uses a weighted plus/minus system to see who performs the best against the best.
This year Rose performed better than anyone against the best defenses (and he came out No. 5 against the worst defenses, too). It’s another testament to the best season Chicago has seen since that guy with the statue retired — while there are other guys who can score on the Bulls roster it was Rose who had to create a lot of those shots for himself and others. He carried as much or more weight for the team’s offense as anyone in the NBA. And he did it well.
Rounding out the top five against the best defenses are Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. LeBron was the other guy in the top five against worst defenses as well, basically he gets his against everyone.
The worst players against good defenses? Jonny Flynn (something to note, Rockets fans) and then two Clippers — Eric Bledsoe and Al-Farouq Aminu. To be fair, Aminu struggled against everyone, good and bad. Bledsoe showed promise, but this reminds everyone that to key rookies to the Clippers future have a long way to go. (Rounding out the top five worst against the best are Kendrick Perkins and Stephen Graham, two guys nobody expects offense out of anyway.)
Who got fat on the low hanging fruit? Who did the best against the worst defenses?
The top five are Steve Nash, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, LeBron and Rose. As we said, Rose and LeBron were in the top five in both. Kobe was No. 11 in the league against the best defenses, Wade No. 12 — while they got some points against the softies, they played well against everyone (although Paine notes that Kobe’s gap is increasing, he’s not done as well the last couple seasons against good defenses).
As for Nash, would it be different if he still had Stoudemire and other elite scorers around him? Or is this a sign of age? The answer likely sits somewhere in the middle of those two statements.