Expected Scoring – Derrick Rose

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?

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4 Comments

Filed under Chicago Bulls, Expected Scoring Player Profiles, NBA, Statistical Analysis

4 responses to “Expected Scoring – Derrick Rose

  1. Chicago Tim

    I think Rose’s midrange efficiency has decreased in part because he has been shooting more running floaters from 10-15 feet. If he can’t get to the basket I wish he would just take pull-up jumpers.

    I also worry about his inconsistency. Every time I think he may be “getting it” at last, he plays a clunker game that makes me wonder if he will ever get it. Michael Jordan was great because always added to his game and never, ever, ever took a night off. I remember hearing that Jordan had the flu and knowing that would mean a great game — sickness seemed to make him play better, not worse. Rose doesn’t take a night off but when his shot isn’t falling he presses, and then he can have a night of gawdawful stats — low efficiency, high turnovers, few assists, no steals, no foul shots, no rebounds. Usually he isn’t bad in all those categories at once, but something will be bad enough to turn a good game into an average game.

    • I haven’t watched enough of the Bulls to make claims about why his midrange efficiency has gone down, but it definitely seems like a more recent trend. Early in the season he was on of the best mid-range shooters in the league.

      Again I haven’t watched a ton of Bulls games this season, but he also doesn’t seem to have that cutthroat attitude to his game; the killer instinct to just step on a team’s throat. He can impact the game in so many ways, but lots of young players seem to have problems figuring out exactly which way to affect the game is most important for their team on any given night. I am sure there are nights where the Bulls need him to back off a little on offense and devote most of his energy to lockdown defense. Or nights where it’s really important for him to create some shots for Deng or Korver early to get them into the flow.

      I am hoping this piece will generate some more comments from Bulls fans who can help fill in some of those gaps for me.

  2. Ian,

    I appreciate this metric each time you make a new post (probably because I get my head around it a little better each time time 🙂 )

    It occurs to me that the improvements that Rose is making right now are the improvements that my Pistons hoped to see from Rodney Stuckey, but really haven’t seen very much of.

    Good work.

    • I think I get my head around it a little bit more each time as well. One of things I am learning is that efficiency might not be the right word to use in discussing this stat. My numbers show Rose declining slightly, but by TS% and eFG% (the generally accepted basic measures of scoring efficiency) Rose is slightly better this year. What I am really look it is how far above or below average he is, and efficiency might not be the best term to capture that.

      Some commenters in other places have also raised the idea that I need to adjust the expected point values for each location by position. The idea being that a point guard will have a different expected value on shots at the rim than a center. I’m not totally sure how to feel about that, need to process it a little more. I usually try to stay away from that because it involves making judgement calls about what position a certain player should be categorized as. Looking into that is what led to the two Obscure Statistics posts last night.

      Thanks for the comment Ben. I’m glad you and the two other’s in my “Gang of Three” are still enjoying what I’m putting out.

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