The Cleveland Cavaliers seemed to have finally worked out their chemistry issues. Despite not having two of their best point guards, they’ve found success. Now on a five-game winning streak, the Cavs look rejuvenated. Isaiah Thomas has yet to make his debut, and Derrick Rose hasn’t looked impressive overall.
With Cleveland starting to figure things out, fans have questioned what actually was the problem. It’s thought that the former Knick, Rose was the player holding the Cavs back. Let’s take at some evidence supporting and going against Derrick’s case.
Can Rose rebloom in Cleveland?
When Rose was signed in Cleveland, he was supposed to be a back-up to former Cavalier Kyrie Irving. Rose was looked at to simply be a leading scorer off the bench, and to push the pace. The Cavs bench has always been slow and struggles to hold a lead when Irving and LeBron James are off the floor.
In a make-it-or-break-it season, Derrick’s leadership of the bench was crucial to his market and Cleveland’s championship hopes. Due to Thomas’s injury, Rose was placed in a much more challenging position.
Firstly, Rose deserves a little more slack than people give him. He had about two games to build a little chemistry with the Cavs before he was sidelined with an ankle injury. Derrick rushed himself back to help his team win and ended up not even helping himself out, aggravating his injury.
Secondly, People are often bringing up a strong point about Rose having more turnovers than assists. However, Rose wasn’t expected to come in averaging seven or eight assists for the Cavs. Rose is alongside one of the greatest players in the NBA, LeBron James.
To take away possessions or worsen James stats might be a big concern to Rose, as he’s very submissive with the ball. Rose usually hands off the ball to LeBron James right off the inbound, letting him create his own shot or play. Not to mention Tyronn Lue’s offensive is carefree, leaving most looking lost on offense. We’ve seen Kyrie excelling in the Boston Celtic’s system, but Jae Crowder doing worse in the Cavaliers system.
Finally, in the games Rose has played in Cleveland he’s had a winning record (4-3) with them. To blame Rose for losing games, when he’s been apart of more Cavaliers wins than losses is unfair. He’s having his most efficient season shooting yet with 47% FG and 54% True Shooting.
Also, let’s not forget the fact that the Chicago Native is constantly getting hacked without getting calls. He averages 3 Free-Throws a game, compared to another former MVP Stephen Curry, who averages almost 7.
The Cavaliers can’t revive Rose’s prime
It’s a hard truth to face, but Rose isn’t the same player we saw in 2011. As hard as it is for fans to accept, DRose is going to be in his 30’s soon and isn’t getting better. One huge issue for Derrick is that he’s barely able to keep himself healthy for one full season. Going into your 30’s with health issues will only push Father Time to catch up quicker.
Firstly, Derrick Rose is having one of his worst defensive and offensive seasons so far. His Defense is ranked 444th out of 450 players listed on NBA.com
Although Rose has made some clutch defensive stop against Kyrie Irving and John Wall. The numbers simply can’t be ignored, he’s especially terrible coming off a screen.
Secondly, Rose isn’t a good playmaker, he has more turnovers (19) than he has assists (12). Even with the excuse that the chemistry isn’t there yet, or LeBron is the Cavs ball-handler, having more turnovers than assists is unacceptable for a point guard. Rose was signed to be a leading-scorer off the bench, so he wasn’t expected to be averaging 5-6 assists a game. However, when you make more turnovers than you make an easy play, you’re most likely making things harder on the team.
“The ball’s not in his hands the whole time,” Lue said of Rose. “With LeBron (James) handling it a lot, with D-Wade handling, he’s not really in those positions to really get assists. He’s attacking the basket, that’s what we need from him and everything else will take care of itself.”
This is a great point by Tyronn Lue, who also said he isn’t worried about Rose getting turnovers as long as it’s from him attacking and being aggressive.
This would benefit Rose’s case if it wasn’t for him having the second-highest usage rate on the Cavaliers. He’s only assisting on 10.3% of the Cavs shots, which is a career-low.
Finally, the Cavalier Guard is a terrible three-point shooter, leading to terrible spacing. It’s no secret that Rose isn’t great at shooting three’s. He’s said himself that he’s been working on his shot during the off-season. He’s shot 13 three’s and made three, which improves him from last years 21% to 23%.
Statistically, Cavs are better with Rose off the floor, (108.3 to 112) rather than on. When Isaiah comes back it’s especially worrying having Rose and Wade on at the same time. As there would be little spacing with both being terrible three-point shooters.
Looking at Rose’s replacements so far…
It’s thought that the Cavaliers success is attributed to Rose’s replacements is performing better for the team. Let’s take a look at the Cavaliers other options for their point guard.
Average while Derrick Rose is out:
11.3 PTS, 4 ASTS, 4.5 REBS, 1.7 TO’s on 45% FG in 22.2 minutes.
Dwyane Wade has spent 85% of his time in the point guard role for the Cavs. It is also one of his worst offensive and defensive seasons, but far from Rose’s struggles. He’s gone from a 23.6% usage rate which is a big drop from his 29.6% usage in Chicago. However, he’s increased his assist percentage to 26.3%. While Wade is creating some good possessions for the Cavaliers, he’s not helping stretch the floor. He’s only hit 2 of his attempted 3 three’s, which shows he’s sticking to what he’s good at. DWade has been a solid back-up since Rose has been out, however, but how he’ll gel with Rose on the bench when Thomas is back is a scary thought.
Average while Derrick Rose is out:
5.7 PTS, 1.7 ASTS, 3.4 REBS, 1.5 TO’s on 34% FG, 29% 3PT in 23.9 minutes.
Iman Shumpert has played 56% of his time at the point guard role on the Cavs. He’s not any better of a playmaker than Derrick, assisting on only 8.6% of shots. The Cavaliers somehow don’t play worse with him on the court, however, but he’s a non-factor. Shumpert is not a true point guard or anywhere close to that, but he has the same amount of turnovers (17) as he does assists. It’s his worst offensive season so far, but his defense is at least better than the former MVP. However his three-point shot has been pretty awful, so defenders can basically give him the same treatment on defense as Rose. Because he hasn’t been as aggressive on offense as Rose, he can hide his struggles behind a plus/minus by letting LeBron lead the team.
Average while Derrick Rose is out:
4.3 PTS, 1.3 ASTS, 1.3 REBS,1.1 TO’s on 50% FG, 50% 3PT in 15.1 Minutes.
Jose Calderon is the only true point guard the Cavs have left, playing 89% of his time in that role. Calderon hasn’t played much since the time Rose has been out, so it’s hard to judge off a small sample size. He’s a 36-year-old vet who’s been known for his playmaking and good three-point shooting throughout his career. While he’s on the court, he helps space out the floor and has assisted on 12.8% of shots. Cavs don’t play worse with him, but they don’t excel either. Like Iman, Jose is pretty much a non-factor on offense. He’s only had one game where he made over 5 points and no games with over 2 assists. But he isn’t bad, just average, he can fit the Cavaliers offense because he allows other players to take control of the offense.
Of course, we still have Thomas that hasn’t played but based off last years numbers, we can predict he’ll be a much better fit at PG than all of those options.
The Cavaliers need a replacement for Kyrie, that guard has to be a great ball-handler who can move the ball, space the floor and be a threat on offense.
Thomas fits those categories well. LeBron has also played a bit of point guard as well, but even as the small forward he’s thought to be the primary ball-handler and playmaker.
So does Derrick Rose make the Cavaliers worse? Was he the reason that they couldn’t find success early on? It’s too early to tell. But if Rose wants to prove himself then the time is now. Before Isaiah comes back Rose should show he can still make a positive impact as a starter to help his free-agency market.
We’ll soon see if a Rose can bloom again with the help of a king.