Top 50: Derrick Rose, no. 18
The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.
by Franklyn Calle
The time has come! The guy you all love to hate has finally appeared on the rankings. If you’ve been following our Top 50 list as of late, then you already know that DRose has been mentioned in the comments section more than the featured player. And for the most part, the comments haven’t been too positive.
Many of you feel Rose is too high. Maybe he is, maybe not.
There is no point for me to sit here and try to convince those who aren’t happy with where is ranked or even those who don’t like his game. An article will not all of the sudden change your perspective on him. Instead I will evaluate his rookie season, what can be expected from him next season, and what could have led to him landing at No. 18.
We all witnessed history on April 18, when DRose had a historic playoff performance against the defending champions – the Boston Celtics – finishing with 36 points, 11 assists and 4 rebounds, while shooting 63 percent from the floor. His 36 points tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most points ever scored by a rookie in his playoff debut. I should note that Abdul-Jabbar was 22 years old at the time and Rose was only 20. And…. 10 inches of height makes a difference. Rose also became only the second player in NBA history to finish with more than 35 points and 10 assists in his playoff debut (regardless of years in the League).
So let’s see, how did the Chicago native’s first year numbers rank with those of Chris Paul, Allen Iverson, Deron Williams, Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash, Tony Parker and Devin Harris? If we were to compare Rose’s rookie season to those of the League’s premiere point guards, it is evident that he is on his way to be a very special one.
Compared to the point guards who were just mentioned, Rose’s regular season rookie stats showed he may very well be the real deal. Only Iverson averaged more points than Rose as a rookie. What about field goals? His 47.5 percent from the floor was higher than any of the aforementioned guards. Only Paul, Iverson and Kidd averaged more assists then Rose as a rookie, and that difference was by less than 1.5 assists.
Rose is the only one who led his team to the Playoffs as a rookie. I emphasize ‘LED‘ because although Nash, Parker and Harris made the Playoffs as rookies, all three teams had other guys they depended on to lead the way. We all can agree that Rose was a huge factor in the Bulls making the Playoffs after Chicago’s absence the previous year. He shot 80 percent from the free throw line in the Playoffs, better than any of the other guards when they played in the Playoffs for the first time – and keep in mind most of them dudes didn’t even make the Playoffs until their third year in the League.
With Ben Gordon leaving to the Pistons, you can expect for Rose’s stats to increase by a good amount. A 22-point, 8-assist, and 6-rebound season is very well possible.
Now I’ve noticed some people argued that Rose only shot 22 percent from behind the arc. Well, he proved in his playoff debut that he can easily drop 36 points without ever having to hit a single three-pointer. It won’t be too long before the same applies for 40-point performances. And let’s be real, his three-point percentage will improve with experience and years.
Another argument against Rose seems to be his defense. My question is how many 20-year-olds do you guys remember coming into the League and straight up locking down guys? Name the point guards! You won’t find many… if any! In fact you have grown-ass men in their 30s in the League who still don’t seem to have learned the fundamentals of defense.
So if we’re going by statistics, then it’s fair to say Rose is well ahead enough to being one of the NBA’s premier guards. If we are going by talent and court presence, even better. I don’t know how many point guards in the League are as athletic, agile and explosive as he is. Again, if any.
Now how did he end up at the 18 slot? Well as you may see at the bottom of the page, “rankings are based solely on projected ’09-10 performances.” This hints that it has nothing to do with what a player has done in his career, and more so with what it is expected of him this season. It is obvious by where he is ranked that expectations are higher for Rose than, say, Billups and all the other guards who have already appeared in the Top 50 list.
Coincidentally enough, Rose celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday.
Say what you like, but if last year was any indication, Rose is on his way to either being your favorite point guard, or your favorite point guard to hate. But either way, he’ll have you talking for years to come.
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’09-10 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Brett Ballantini, Russ Bengtson, Toney Blare, Shannon Booher, Myles Brown, Franklyn Calle, Gregory Dole, Emry DowningHall, Jonathan Evans, Adam Fleischer, Jeff Fox, Sherman Johnson, Aaron Kaplowitz, John Krolik, Holly MacKenzie, Ryne Nelson, Chris O’Leary, Ben Osborne, Alan Paul, Susan Price, Sam Rubenstein, Khalid Salaam, Kye Stephenson, Adam Sweeney, Vincent Thomas, Tzvi Twersky, Justin Walsh, Joey Whelan, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.