Derrick Rose has offered an infinite number of reasons for skepticism, but he can still be effective in a defined role with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to be in need of a replacement for All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving reportedly met with the organization and requested a trade, going as far as providing a list of preferred destinations.
The Cavaliers have addressed the need for depth at Irving’s position by signing free agent point guard Derrick Rose.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, one of the primary reasons that Rose agreed to sign with the Cavaliers was his communication with LeBron James.
James all but confirmed his approval of the deal via his official Twitter account.
Rose may not be the answer to the Irving problem, but that doesn’t mean he’s of no value to the Cavaliers.
Let’s get the bad out of the way. Rose can’t stay healthy for a full 82 games, is abhorrent on defense, and may be the worst 3-point shooter in the NBA. He’s an isolation player who operates from the point guard position, yet he doesn’t create much offense as a facilitator.
True as that all may be, Rose has a skill set that the Cavaliers can put to use. It’s all about finding the perfect role.
Derrick Rose Isn’t Replacing Kyrie Irving
In theory, the Cleveland Cavaliers could end up trading Kyrie Irving and starting Derrick Rose at point guard. There are factors to understand and evaluate, however, which includes the pay grade and the inevitable return.
All in all, the narrative that Rose is being asked to replace Irving is flawed for one simple reason: He isn’t.
If Cleveland successfully trades Irving, then it will be getting an intriguing package of players and picks in return. The players would ideally provide immediate value that could improve the quality of the roster.
In other words: LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Rose would be complemented by new additions to the roster who, in an ideal package, would create a better supporting cast than Irving had.
Furthermore, Rose is being paid roughly $2.1 million—roughly nine times less than Irving. Thus, the question beckons for those who have criticized this signing: Who exactly did you expect Cleveland to get with a $2.1 million contract?
Rose may not be the answer, but that doesn’t mean it’s his fault that Cleveland is in this situation—nor does it mean he’s the player replacing him.
He may end up starting at point guard, but if Cleveland improves in other ways, it won’t be the same roster.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have benefited greatly from Kyrie Irving’s ability to break an opponent down and get to the rim. If Irving is going to be lost via trade, then the ideal scenario would be to find a player who can fill that potential void.
While the narrative may be that Derrick Rose has lost his athleticism, the truth of the matter is that he’s still elite in that regard.
Irving finished the 2016-17 NBA regular season with an average of 7.1 points via drives per game on 51.4 percent shooting. Rose, meanwhile, averaged 8.2 points via drives per game on 51.2 percent shooting—better volume and almost identical efficiency.
It’s also worth noting that Rose did this on a Knicks team that ranked No. 24 in 3-point field goals made, and Irving did it on a Cavaliers team that ranked No. 2.
Irving clearly surpasses Rose in every other offensive phase of the game, but the Cavaliers can capitalize on this opportunity. He’ll need to improve other aspects of his game, but Rose’s ability to drive at will can become his role on the team.
In that role, Rose can provide efficient scoring numbers, and alleviate pressure from LeBron James with his ability to efficiently finish on the drive.
Scoring From Midrange
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a team that values the 3-point shot. Cleveland not only ranked No. 2 in 3-point field goals made per game in 2016-17, but it was No. 2 in 3-point field goal attempts at an unbelievable 33.9 per contest.
Although he may be one of the worst 3-point shooters in the NBA, Derrick Rose is also one of the most effective midrange shooters in the Association.
That may not be the type of skill that a team can build around, but at $2.1 million, who exactly expects Cleveland to build around Rose?
Rose has flaws that will need to be compensated for, but his ability to drive at will and score from midrange creates significant value. It will enable him to score consistently and efficiently in the half court, primarily due to the spacing that he’ll be surrounded by.
Rose’s role will need to be defined to fit his style of play—especially if he doesn’t expand his range—but he can be of value to the Cavaliers in 2017-18.
All Derrick Rose wants is to win. With the Cleveland Cavaliers, he’ll have an opportunity to do so.