After finishing in the top 10 in points and assists, Bulls guard Derrick Rose won the 2010-11 NBA MVP in a landslide vote (received 113 of 120 possible first place votes). An MVP plays his best throughout the season, however, it always seemed that Rose showed up at his finest against the best. And now, the stats back it up.
Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference.com used an advanced statistic that works like a plus/minus and takes elements of efficiency into account to measure who did best and worst against the league's best and worst defenses. Rose, according to the study, performed the best against the league's best defenses. He also finished fifth-best against the worst defenses.
Just another MVP stat for you.
The Bulls needed every bit of Rose's scoring prowess last season, as they finished 19th in scoring (98.6 points per game). Having the second-best defense (behind Boston), according to Paine's study, helps also. But we knew Rose (offensively) and the team defense were the top two reasons the Bulls won an NBA-best 62 games and reached the Eastern Conference finals last season. However, it all starts and ends with Rose. And he came through in flying colors last season -- against the best or worst.
2011 NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, LeBron James and Kevin Durant rounded out the top five against the best defenses, while Johnny Flynn, Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Kendrick Perkins and Stephen Graham performed the worst against the best defenses.
Rose and James, first and third in the MVP voting, respectively, were the only players to finish in the top five against the best and worst defenses. Dwight Howard, who finished second in the MVP voting, came out No. 14 against the best defenses and finished outside the top 20 against the worst defenses.
Who else feasted off the worst defenses?
The top five are Steve Nash, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and the aforementioned James and Rose. Although Nash clearly gets his points against inferior opponents, you've got to applaud his level of play at 37 years old. And as pure scorers, Wade and Bryant did (and will continue to do) what many before them did: rack up points against weak defenses.
It helps when you show up against the best of the best -- and that's what reigning MVP Derrick Rose did, which beefed up his MVP résumé and gain exposure. Can he follow that up next season (whenever that will be)?