Pakastallion and I had an interesting argument a couple of weeks ago. He asked me whether D-Rose, after being voted as the consensus MVP of the year, was a top 5 player in the NBA. After a little deliberation, I decided that no he was not. I argued that Rose had a great season on a great team this year, but his accomplishments hadn’t vaulted him into the top 5 list yet. He is not yet a great passer (although he is getting there), he has
had no playoff success (although he might be getting there too), and much of the Bulls success was predicated on a team defensive scheme built by one of the best defensive coaches this year. I also said that Rose will get there, maybe even very soon, but I still wouldn’t put him over Lebron, Wade, Dirk, Dwight, or Durant. The response to my well thought-out, articulate, intelligent response? “You are a bozo.” Thanks for the feedback Pakistallion.
Despite his lack of debate skills, Pakistallion did bring up an interesting point. According to him, the only mainstays on the top five list are Lebron and Dwight- nobody else deserves automatic consideration. He also contends that if Rose was either a top five player or we have serious complications with our definition of the MVP. So is he right? Is Derrick Rose a top 5 player in the league?
In order to answer this, we have to define what top 5 player means. Is it the 5 most talented players in the league? The 5 most valuable? The 5 players who would go 1-5 if we redrafted the whole league right now? The 5 most successful? Each of these definitions would result in a different list. I couldn’t put Durant or Dirk on the 5 most successful players list and I couldn’t keep Kobe off of it. Yet when I made my final list, Durant and Dirk made it while Kobe didn’t (I’m sure kidveesh will be sending me emails about that). My final decision is that it’s a combination of the lists above: talent, value to team, and success. However, since we’re talking about the top five players in the league, talent matters more.
Derrick Rose was my MVP pick after the year was over. To me the MVP has to be on a successful team, be valuable to their team, and compete statistically with other top players in the league. Their team either needs to exceed expectations or be one of the best teams of the year. Since it requires all this, the MVP is prone to change every year: in 55 years only 12 players have won multiple MVPs. Why would I vote for Rose? He was the best player on the best team, his team remained successful through his efforts when his best teammates were injured, and he’s the leader of his team. The Bulls were not expected to be this good this year and their defense was a surprise, despite the recent hire of Tom Thibodeau.
A top 5 list is completely different: it doesn’t usually change year to year. Lebron, D-Wade, and Dwight Howard have been on the list for years. Dirk has been on and off for the past decade and a strong year and playoffs have put him back on that list. Kobe left the list this year after a bad year and an early exit from the playoffs, while Durant has had a great two-year span, becoming the best scorer in the league. Derrick Rose is a great player, but he can’t compete with that list. He has yet to be a great passer: Nash, Paul, Rondo, and D-Williams are all superior. His team was very successful, yet much of that success was predicated on a team defensive philosophy that won the Celtics a championship in 2008. He isn’t a great shooter yet, although he is getting there (think how scary of a player Rose would be if defenses were forced to fight over screens when they guarded him). If we redrafted the whole league today with the condition that it would only be for one year, I wouldn’t pick Derrick Rose if I had a top 5 pick.
I’m sure at this point Bulls fans hate me. They think I hate Derrick Rose. I don’t. He’s my favorite young player in the league. He’s one of the most athletic point guards I’ve ever seen play. He’ll definitely be a top five player in the league, maybe when these playoffs are over, maybe next year. It’s not a question of if, but when. But at this point his career can’t justify it.