LeBron James was vocal in January about the Cleveland Cavaliers needing another “playmaker” on the team, expressing the desire for someone who could help take the pressure off himself, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
The front office got the message and signed Deron Williams in February after he was waived by the Dallas Mavericks. It didn’t work out as planned, so the team inked 36-year-old Jose Calderon to a one-year, $2.3 million veteran minimum deal this offseason.
On Monday, the Cavaliers added another veteran point guard to the mix, signing former league MVP Derrick Rose to a $2.1 million contract, the league minimum, for the 2017-18 season.
Rose averaged 18 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 64 games for the Knicks last season — serviceable numbers, but his overall inefficiency on offense and defense placed him 51st of 82 point guards per ESPN’s Real Plus Minus. And this isn’t a fluke: Since missing the entire season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2012-13, Rose hasn’t ranked in the top half of the league’s most efficient scorers, per Synergy Sports, and he hasn’t been worth more than a replacement player per Basketball Reference’s VORP.
Rose showed he could still handle the ball on the pick and roll and score in isolation, but Coach Tyronn Lue needs someone who can play off the ball with James and Irving on the court and fuel the offense when those two stars get a breather. And that’s where Rose falls short.
Rose scored just 0.8 of a point per possession when used as a spot-up shooter last season with an effective field goal percentage of 39.2 percent, placing him in the bottom 20 percent of the league. He scored just 1.07 points per possession on cuts to the basket, also ranking him in the bottom 20 percent. Rose was even worse on his catch-and-shoot opportunities: 9 for 42 overall and a woeful 4 for 19 on wide-open attempts.
His added value as a passer is also suspect, creating only 9.4 potential assists per game, an average mark for guards playing at least 30 minutes per contest in 2016-17.
It’s also not certain Rose will be a big upgrade as the team’s backup point guard over the recently signed Calderon.
Calderon went 16 for 46 (34.8 percent) as a spot-up shooter for the Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks last season, scoring close to a point per possession on those plays. He also averaged more assists and rebounds per 100 possessions than Rose while being a much better shooter from behind the arc.
|Player||PTS per 100||TRB per 100||AST per 100||STL per 100||3P%|
It’s clear that Rose, even in limited minutes, will be a net drain on Cleveland’s offense. That could worsen if Rose is looked at as a replacement for Irving, who has reportedly asked Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to trade him.
Irving, in stark contrast to Rose, is one of the most efficient point scorers in the league, producing 1.06 points per possession last season, 10th among guards with at least 1,000 possessions. Irving also was excellent as a spot-up shooter (1.145 points per shot) and is a gifted passer (11.3 potential assists per game), making him worth almost eight wins above replacement last season.
|Player||PTS per 100||AST per 100||STL per 100||Net Rating||Wins Above Replacement|
Maybe Rose is rejuvenated with the move to Cleveland and brings stability to the Cavaliers’ bench. Maybe he truly gets healthy by playing limited minutes as a reserve. But adding Rose does little to get Cleveland past the Golden State Warriors, leaving James without the playmaker he so desperately craves.
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