We’re moving through the regular season and continuing with our Expected Scoring player profiles. Today we’ll be looking at the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose.
If you’ve missed my other posts on the subject, Expected Points uses a player’s FGA from each area of the floor and multiplies it by the average number of points scored on that type of shot to come up with an Expected Point total from that area. The Expected Point total can than be compared to the actual number of points a player scored from that area to arrive at a Point Differential. This point differential is an expression of how a player shot compared to the league average, but I like that the comparison is drawn with actual point totals. The average values of shots by location that I use (At Rim – 1.208, <10ft. – 0.856, 10-15ft. – 0.783, 16-23ft. – 0.801, 3PT – 1.081, FT – 0.759) were calculated by Albert Lyu of ThinkBlueCrew.
Rose is still very young, nearing the midway point of his third season after playing just one year of college ball. He entered the NBA and was able to contribute at a high level immediately, due to his incredible athleticism. The developmental challenge for Rose has always been to bring his skill level and saavy up to par with his physical attributes.
Rose improved from his first season to his second. After a very successful campaign with USA Basketball this summer at the World Championships in Turkey, expectations were sky high as he entered his third season. Rose even went so far as to say that he considered himself a legitimate MVP candidate and he hopes other people do to. Rose has been impressive this season; the Bulls have looked extremely sharp and buzz is building for Rose as an MVP contender.
Let’s start by examining some of Rose’s basic statistics for his three seasons and hone in on where exactly the improvement has been which has catapulted him from up-and-comer to legit superstar. Here are his traditional stats (per 40 minutes) from his last two seasons and the 2010-2011 season through 35 games:
The big jumps in production this season have come in his scoring average, assists and three point percentage. I didn’t include it here but his Usage Rate has also jumped from 27.19 last season to 31.04 this year. Most of his other statistics have remained consistent but his turnovers have regressed slightly, somewhat understandable with the increase in his Usage Rate, as has his overall field goal percentage.
An increase in scoring with a decrease in field goal percentage is generally a sign of someone taking more shots but scoring less efficiently. However, the rise in his three point percentage complicates that question somewhat. Let’s delve into this a little deeper by looking at Rose’s Expected Scoring numbers. Below is a table showing Rose’s Expected Points, Actual Points and Point Differential for each area of the floor from the last two seasons and through the first 35 games of this season (all numbers are per 40 minutes). If you prefer a spreadsheet to the embedded table photo, here is the link.
By these numbers we see that Rose is actually scoring slightly less efficiently than he did last season. His point differential has increased slightly at the rim, on three pointers and on free throws but his declined everywhere else. This has led his overall point differential to drop from 0.82 to 0.53. This is obviously a small decline and he’s still in the positive range, but seems to run counter to the common perception that Rose has taken his offensive performance to another level this season.
Rose’s point differential at the rim has declined but this is actually a function of his shot attempts. His field goal percentage on shots at the rim has been below the league average in each of his three seasons, so by decreasing his shot attempts there he’s actually raised his point differential.
The mid and long-range jumpshot is generally one of the most inefficient shots in the game. For Rose it’s actually been quite a potent weapon the past few seasons. Last season he scored 0.99 more points per 40 than expected on jumpers from 10-23ft. This season he’s scoring 0.13 less points per 40 than expected on shots from the same areas. That’s a decrease of 1.12 points in an area where his ability to score efficiently made him very unique.
A knock on Rose’s game in his first two seasons was his inconsistency on three pointers. This season Rose has seen his three point percentage rise by nearly 8 percentage points and he’s averaging 4.6 attempts per 40 minutes compared to just 0.8 last season. This has brought his point differential on three pointers from a -0.26 to 0.43, a swing of 0.69 points.
Looking at these numbers we see a slight drop in his scoring efficiency this season, but not nearly as large as is implied by the drop in his field goal percentage and the increase in his shot attempts. By increasing his efficiency and frequency with three pointers he’s been able to compensate for the slight drop in his efficiency on mid-range jumpers. This can be seen when we look at his eFG% which is 49.7%, just slightly better than last season’s 49.5%. The scary thing is that he’s in just his third season and has already shown the capability to be an above average scorer from almost every area of the floor. It seems reasonable to expect to see continued growth in his offensive skill set. As that happens he could become a nearly unguardable offensive threat.
One other interesting thing is that this may be one of the rare cases where a team is better off with its star scoring less efficiently. Having the three point shot in his arsenal creates much better spacing for his teammates and allows him driving angles with defenders forcing to close out more aggressively on him. This has helped his playmaking and assist numbers terrificly. Assists are factored into a player’s Individual Offensive Rating and ,despite scoring slightly less efficiently, Rose’s ORtg. has gone from a 106 last season to a 110 this season. This has carried over to his team which has brought last year’s ORtg. of 103.5 to a 105.9 this season.
I am not prepared to offer an opinion on whether he deserves to win the MVP award, but from what I’ve seen so far this season he certainly belongs in the discussion. He’s using more possessions and taking more shots. Despite not producing quite as much as he could with those extra opportunities the diversity Rose has added to his game has made the Bulls much better at the offensive end. What more can a team ask for from it’s star player?