The Good Ole Switcheroo: Derrick Rose And Ricky Rubio

It’s been reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves are in the hunt for Derrick Rose while simultaneously looking for a landing spot for Ricky Rubio.

Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY Sports

Ian Begley of ESPN broke the rumor about Minnesota having an interest in Rose, and centering a deal around Rubio isn’t a far-fetched idea. The Timberwolves have actively been looking to move Rubio, and, according to trade checkers from ESPN and RealGM, a straight-up exchange of the two point guards would work perfectly.

Saying that Rose and Rubio contrast each other is blatantly obvious — one is a former MVP who has no intentions of passing, while the other has built a career without wanting to score. Even if my hyperbole got carried away, all jokes contain the truth.

New York Knicks fans get to watch a healthy Rose who’s having his best season since getting hurt. He’s averaging 17.7 points a night on 46.2 percent shooting (highest since his MVP season) while handing out 4.5 assists a night. The reason Rose’s shooting clip is so high is he’s taking significantly fewer threes, which is great because Rose struggles from long-range.

His slashing ability came back because the Knicks have a plethora of shooters around him, and the importance behind that is rooted in his diminished explosiveness. When Rose was at his peak, he was so quick that he’d be at the basket before the defense could rotate and he’d be able to do that on multiple possessions.

Now, whenever Rose blows by his man for a reverse layup, it’s a highlight followed by a stream of “Vintage Rose!” tweets.

The spacing, thanks to Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and others, means Rose will encounter less resistance going to the basket, and the reason the Knicks are bad isn’t because of their offense. Defensively, New York is a trainwreck. And that falls on everyone. Being effective at stopping the opposing team requires all five players to be working in unison, and that just doesn’t happen. With Rubio, there’s a clear upgrade on that end of the floor, but his seemingly non-existent offense wouldn’t benefit the Knicks.

Despite his willingness to pass, the Timberwolves rank 17th in the NBA with 104.8 points a night.

With Rose, the Knicks have a third weapon they can look at to score; even though he’s not pass-first, his presence alone is enough to warrant a gameplan from the opposing coach. Option number one, Anthony, is going to get his regardless because that’s what he does. But, I’m going to make the argument that Rose is instrumental to the success of Porzingis even though he doesn’t directly assist to him.

What’s the Zinger’s best asset? His range, and he enters the unicorn conversation because he’s 7–3. In the history of the league, there’s never been a player this tall who can launch threes at the volume that Porzingis does and connect on them consistently.

Is it a coincidence that his three-point clip is up from 33.3 percent last year to 38.4 this year? No, and it goes back to Rose needing attention. When Rose puts it on the deck, the defense collapses, and that happens whenever you have a point guard who’s a threat to score.

With Rubio, the Knicks wouldn’t have that, and the following stats (courtesy of NBA.com) will probably make you light-headed, so please sit down if you’re standing.

Porzingis shoots 42.7 percent (62-of-145) on threes when Rose is in the same lineup as him. When Rose sits on the bench, that clip drops down to 31.9 percent.

For comparative purposes, Wiggins shoots 31.5 percent (46-of-146) from three with Rubio on and 45.6 (26-of-57) with him off. I picked Wiggins because he’s the Wolves’ second option, and also because he’s becoming more comfortable from behind the arc and is up 5.5 percentage points over last year — 35.5 to 30.

Trading for the 26-year-old Spaniard would make the defense a bit better, but no one player who isn’t named Bill Russell or Hakeem Olajuwon is going to alter the defensive fortunes of a team that’s deep in the gutter. Besides, the development of Porzingis takes precedence over everything else, as it should.

I get that Rose is an expiring contract, but the financial situation with Rubio isn’t much better. Trading for him means inheriting $28.9 million over the next two years, which isn’t too bad but there’s the chance of the deal falling flat on its face.

I also understand that the organization doesn’t want to lose Rose if he signs somewhere else, but if he’s willing to take less than what he made this year, why not pull the trigger?


This post first appeared on thebasketballnetwork.com.