Milwaukee Bucks: Examining the 2017 version of Derrick Rose

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Derrick Rose
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Derrick Rose /
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NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 16: Marcus Morris
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 16: Marcus Morris /


Rose’s game has never been built on his defensive impact, and that certainly hasn’t changed in the latter years of his career.

At the peak of his powers, Rose had become adept at picking opponent’s pockets for steals and cutting off loose passes in the passing lane. He can still do that from time-to-time, but he’s unlikely to approach the heights of a steal per game ever again.

Even more noticeably, Rose is no longer the shot-blocking threat he once was. At full health and in spite of his diminutive stature, Rose was able to channel his athleticism into averaging 0.6-0.7 blocks per game. In his last four years that number has dropped to 0.3 blocks per game.

Rose will still show willingness to track and pressure guards as they come up court, but having lost some lateral quickness, he’s more vulnerable than ever to being beaten off the dribble when he takes on a defensive stance.

Rather than placing the blame for this entirely on the injuries, there is a chance these defensive weaknesses have always been there and are just further exposed in the years he’s been out of Tom Thibodeau’s once robust Bulls’ defense.

Quantifying individual defense analytically is notoriously troublesome, but regardless, the numbers don’t paint a positive picture in the former Simeon standout’s post-injury years.

Rose’s defensive box plus/minus has stayed locked in a range of -2.1 to -2.3 for the last four years, and his four worst seasons in defensive win share have all occurred in that same timespan.

His defensive rating has made for a mixed bag in his last four seasons too, as you’ll see below when looking at Rose’s number and his differential with the team’s overall defensive rating.

Knicks 2016-17: 111.1 (-2.4 worse than team overall)

Bulls 2015-16: 105.8 (-1.9 worse than team overall)

Bulls 2014-15: 101.0 (+0.5 better than team overall)

Bulls 2013-14: 100.6 (-2.8* worse than team overall) *only played 10 games

The long and the short of it is essentially that if you’re a good defensive team, the best case is that Rose may be a neutral defensive presence. In all likelihood, he has to be considered a negative, though.