As the Bulls keep winning — despite the fact that Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah have played together only nine times this season — the “Derrick Rose for MVP” talk keeps heating up.
Here’s a recent samping from around the Web.
Charles Barkley on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000 (via ESPNChicago): “I think Derrick has surpassed Deron Williams as the best point guard in the NBA, and I think right now he has to be the front-runner for MVP. He’s been fantastic, and I think when you look at the Eastern Conference, and I’ve said it all along, the Chicago Bulls to me are the most dangerousteam if they get everybody healthy. Derrick Rose to me has been a tremendous leader. He’s missed his second and third best players the majority of the season, and they have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. That’s pretty remarkable.”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau (via ESPNChicago): “If you had to make [the pick] right now, what he’s done for our team, I can’t imagine anyone doing any more. But again, I think the big thing is how he’s lifted our team.”
ESPN’s Rick Reilly: “Your MVP vote might be Dwyane Wade or LeBron James in Miami, but you’d be wrong. They have each other. It might be for the wizard Rondo in Boston, but he’s only a disher, not a scorer. It might be for Amare Stoudemire of the New York Knicks, but if he’s so valuable, why do they lose as often as they win? Rose has the Bulls in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the East even though they lost their two trees — Joakim Noah (21 games) and Carlos Boozer (18) — for much of the first half. The pick is Rose for all the right reasons.
Steve Aschburner of NBA.com: “The load that Rose is carrying for Chicago rarely has been more evident than it was during TNT’s broadcast Thursday. Rose scored 26 points against the Mavericks, facing and eventually thwarting a variety of defensive tactics; the other four Bulls starters scored 26 points while Dallas was fixated on their point guard. Rose shot six free throws to his fellow starters’ two, had nine assists to their three and matched their two blocks. … Separating oneself from one’s supporting cast while winning at a high frequency is the surest way to earn consideration for the Maurice Podoloff trophy. And with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer sidelined by injuries, Rose surely has done that at United Center, where the ‘M-V-P!’ chants start when their guy is at the foul line ring a little more true than when, oh, the folks in Oakland do it for Monta Ellis.”
Bryan Crawford of SLAM: “While, critics of Rose went into a collective, ‘This guy must be crazy!’ and ‘Who does he think he is?’ stance once his comments hit the mainstream media, SLAM devoted a feature article and a cover to his statement in spite of people methodically picking Rose apart and rattling off all the reasons why the third year PG supposedly had no chance at winning the award: He can’t shoot. His assists are low. He can’t run a team. He’s not a true PG. He can’t create for others. He’s not a leader. He’s Allen Iverson or Steve Francis 2.0. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Paul are all better than him. But that was in September. Four months later it can no longer be denied that Rose has a real shot at being named the best player in the NBA at season’s end as long as he stays healthy and the Bulls continue to play well and keep racking up the W’s. While the MVP award in and of itself is nothing more than a popularity contest, individual and team success certainly factor into the equation and Derrick Rose is certainly experiencing both.”
Colin Hettinger of Gapers Block: “Rose has the chance to become what LeBron never could, fulfilling the “Local Boy Makes Good” headline that Cleveland was dying to write for seven years. What’s more, he seems to want to be the local hero; he’s proud to bring Chicago back to the top of the NBA. No doubt the Bulls’ front office deserves credit for giving him the pieces needed in the form of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, but what makes this season so spectacular is that despite dozens of lost games among both players this year due to injury, Rose hasn’t whined, given up or buckled. Despite those injuries, Chicago is 30-14, a close third in the Eastern Conference behind Boston and Miami, heading into tonight’s home game against the Bucks. And Rose has carried more of a burden than the stars from those two contenders. That sounds like an MVP to me.”
Brian Rogers of te NEIU Independent: “Will he win the MVP this season? He’s close to being the number one player in the NBA. He is the Bulls franchise and the team’s most valuable player, but we have yet to see his best game. He is a young player, and he is on the threshold of super-stardom. With the right development and talent surrounding him, he will be the league MVP before long. Since Jordan’s retirement, the city of Chicago has waited for another superstar caliber player to come along, someone to root for, and someone to spark our hopes for another championship run. That player has arrived in Derrick Rose.”
Steven Elonich of Bleacher Report: “The symbolic No. 1 knows how to take over a game when his teammates are not up to par, including his most recent game against the Michael Jordan-owned Charlotte Bobcats. Rose dropped 33 points while also adding five rebounds and four assists, while all other four starters combined to contribute 28. Only two other Bulls even managed double-digit points, with Luol Deng scoring 10 and Ronnie Brewer with 12. The Bulls lost 83-82, but would it have even been close without Rose’s leadership? Derrick Rose has obviously carried his team through injuries, poor play and tough situations. His humble leadership ability is a rare trait that is coveted by many, and attained by few. His qualifications for being the MVP are all there, but it’s going to take a few more people to open their eyes for it to happen. Does any other team depend on a single player more than the Bulls do Rose? That’s what the term, Most Valuable Player is all about, right?”
And now a dissenting voice.
Tom Ziller of SBNation: “Derrick Rose, former No. 1 pick and superlative point guard for the thriving Chicago Bulls, is becoming an incredibly popular midseason MVP pick. Much of this is based on the story of Rose’s rise coinciding with that of his team; no serious investigation of the numbers suggests Rose belongs among the top five MVP contenders this season. He’s been phenomenal, no doubt. But plenty of great players having phenomenal seasons don’t win the MVP. Like Kevin Durant last season.”
The following post is what Ziller meant by “serious investigation of the numbers.”
Rohan Cruyff of SBNation: “Rose has been instrumental to Chicago’s success, but LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have used just as many possessions to even better effect. If you’re not a fan of them teaming up, Kevin Durant’s right there with them (and above Rose). Nobody in the league has been as closely linked to his team’s offensive success as Kobe Bryant, and Dirk Nowitzki sacrifices mere percentage points of usage while producing almost 10 points more per 100 possessions (about equal to the offensive disparity between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat). Rose hasn’t even entirely distinguished himself from another high FGA point guard, Russell Westbrook. And that’s to make no mention of the off-chart trio of Paul, Howard, and Deron Williams.”
I wonder if Ziller and Cruyff are going to lead a campaign to have Kobe Bryant’s 2008 MVP award retracted because he didn’t lead the league in PER, Win Shares or any other efficiency stats (in most cases, he wasn’t even in the top five). But since they’re so concerned about numbers…
Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference: “In the absence of a runaway choice, there’s an ever-growing push among traditional media members in favor of Derrick Rose’s MVP candidacy — and to be totally honest, the advanced boxscore-based stats don’t see it. Rose is having a tremendous season, without a doubt, but he’s currently 9th in Win Shares, 17th in WS per 48 minutes, 14th in Player Efficiency Rating, and 14th in Statistical +/-… Not exactly the most impressive MVP resume from the stathead’s perspective. However, there is one advanced metric that does validate the love for Rose: Adjusted Plus/Minus (via BasketballValue.com). Sure, the standard errors are huge, and Mike Dunleavy Jr. shows up as the 2nd-best player behind Rose (yikes!). But at least there is some numerical evidence that Rose is making Chicago better in ways that aren’t being detected in his box score numbers.”
Handing out the MVP is tricky business. There never has — and probably never will be — any clear-cut criteria for what makes a player The Most Valuable. Is it stats? Results? A combination of both? There’s always a dividing line between sentiment and statistics. Rose is well-liked and displaying superstar qualities. However, he’s taking hits from the statheads because he isn’t as efficient as other MVP candidates.
Rose has meant everything to the Bulls this season. People wonder where Chicago would even be without him. Of course, subtract a superstar from a team and that team is usually in trouble. Look at the poor Cavaliers. And the Heat had some recent struggles when LeBron James sat out. The Mavericks nearly crumbled when Dirk Nowitzki was sitting out. And the Bulls would likely do the same if Rose missed any significant time. (The Lakers seemed to do okay without Kobe last season…but that’s another story.)
Is Rose the MVP? Win or lose, is he even deserving of consideration? There are no right or wrong answers to those questions. Pick a side. Pick a stat. Whatever. In the end, all that matters is that the Bulls are winning and Rose is their MVP.