I love how Rajon Rondo is universally hated by Bulls fans. It’s partially because of the playoff series from two years ago, but people hated him even more when he was competing against Rose to be on Team USA this summer. Rose won that battle, but people still hate Rondo more despite him losing that battle. I'm guilty of this myself, but I can't help but hate Rondo.
A lot of my hatred stems from the misconception that Rondo is an elite point guard. He's good, but he's never been and never will be elite. Just comparing him to Derrick Rose. the only advantage I see for Rondo is steals. I won't even give him defense, because Rose has made huge strides, and very quietly, Rose leads all point guards in blocks (he led by 15 the last time I checked, but that was before this weekend’s games), and is only getting better.
But enough about Rondo. We all hate him. Let's focus on the man who matters, D-Rose.
He’s gotten BETTER. But more on that later, let's address the haters first.
Early in the season, as good as Rose was, the advanced metrics (fancy statistics) despised Derrick Rose's play (by despise, I mean they saw him as a very good, not great player). Despite this, I feel that advanced metrics are a very good way to judge NBA players, Since I have the tendency to nerd out when it comes to sports, I enjoy browsing through different things to see how players stack up.
With that being said, statistics in basketball will never be able to tell you the whole story, and they’ll probably never come all that close. Everybody wants their stats to work like baseball's, but baseball is much easier than any other team sport, because the major encounter, pitcher vs. hitter is a one-on-one battle.
But no matter what advancement they make in statistics, it will never tell the whole story. Just off the top of my head, we can come up with a stat called should be assists where a person gets credit for finding an open guy even if the guy doesn't make the shot (we're going to ignore the difficulties in deciding what is an open shot).
So say a guard drives to the hoop, a defender crashes in to help, and the guard passes it out to the guy that is now open. Even if the defense gets away with one with a guy missing an open shot, I can guarantee they do not want to let that person get that open look again. The next time the guy doesn’t come to help on the guy driving to the hoop, maybe nobody helps, maybe somebody else helps, but that great drive and dish may have not led to immediate points, but it did lead to holes showing up in the defense and helped create better shots in the future. With so many possibilities on every possession, there is no way for a stat to definitively tell us who is the most valuable player in the NBA.
Back to Rose. Even though the advanced metrics did not see his value at nearly the same level that fans did, the stats have slowly become more of a fan of Derrick Rose as the season has gone on. And anybody who has watched the Bulls has also seen Rose grow as a player as the year has gone on. This is why I see the advanced metrics as working as they do give us an idea of the value of players, but you still need to watch players to really know.
There’s no stat for team confidence or, even though I shutter every time I hear it, swagger. That doesn’t mean it does not exist. It’s there; it’s just not measurable. Even though I think the Bulls enjoyed playing together for the most part, this year they have confidence in the game plan which brings their play to another level. They are buying into the scheme, and that is why Tom Thibodeau was probably one of the top five signings of this past summer.
Now the Bulls have the best record in the East, and D-Rose (with help from Thibs) has this team playing at a ridiculously high level. Although many don't think the Bulls can win a Game 7 on the road, I'm not as worried as most. I just want the Bulls to be in the top two seeds so they don't have to face the Hawks or Knicks in the first round. When I look at the way Rose plays, I just don't think that he'd let the moment intimidate him in any way. He's got the killer instinct, and I can't wait for Rondo and the Celtics to be gasping for their last breath as Rose stomps on their throats (metaphorically, although literally would be awesome too).
A Rose by any other name is still NBA's MVP.
P.S. Here is an awesome article on human mascots, not humans in mascot uniforms, but human mascots: