Comparisons between Ja Morant and Derrick Rose have started to heat up as Morant has upped his game this season. It’s easy to see why: Their physical measurements are relatively similar, and their 22-year stints are similar statistically.
Stats via Basketball-Reference as of 01/12/22
That 22-year-old season was the year Rose became the youngest MVP winner in league history. Morant won’t get that level of recognition this year, but he will most likely make his first All-Star game.
So how similar are these players? Paul George compared the experience of defending Morant to playing against a young Rose earlier this season, noting similarities in quickness, ability to change direction and move their bodies in the air.
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Morant also had his opinion on the matter.
“I definitely see the comparisons, but D-Rose is unique and a special player and you can see the similarities, sure, but there can never be another Derrick Rose,” Morant told Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek. “I’m just trying to be my own player and do what I do on the court and help my teams win basketball games and keep getting better.”
The similarities in athleticism between Rose and Morant before the injuries are obvious. There aren’t many point guards in the league who are finishing fast break shots with one hand like these two.
Morant used that athleticism to come out with the block of the season against the Lakers in early January. Rose wasn’t too bad at those chase blocks at her peak either.
There are certainly those flashes where both players use their athleticism to do something that takes your breath away. And both have had extremely productive seasons. But upon closer examination, it’s interesting to see that they’ve gotten there in different ways.
Rose’s ground game during his 2010-11 MVP season was a reflection of that era. Most teams played two traditional bigs instead of the one or even zero we see today. The trainers had not yet fully realized the importance of space, and the painting was much more compact. The Bulls’ top seven in minutes that season were Luol Deng, Rose, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Kurt Thomas, Ronnie Brewer and Taj Gibson. Those six guys around Rose combined for 4.5 3-point attempts per game. Compare that to Morant’s Grizzlies team, whose top seven in minutes provide 24.3 3-point attempts per game around him.
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Rose needed more than one game in between due to the lack of space and the two burly giants most teams had waiting for him under the rim. He also wasn’t as comfortable shooting 3s as Morant. That led him to shoot a lot more mid-range 2 shots.
Only 2 percent of Morant’s shots have come from two lengths this season, while Rose was shooting the ball fairly evenly from full court. Check out the stark differences in your shot charts through Statmuse.
What hasn’t changed since 2011 is that going to the rim is still extremely valuable. Both have used their ridiculous speed and change of direction to get into the lane at will, although it is interesting that, again, they have done so in different ways. Rose preferred to go right that year, while Morant prefers left. Either way, both used their physical gifts to dust off defenders and finish over or through big men trying to block them.
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The other obvious comparison is that both have driven to victory. Rose made a huge leap in that 22-year-old season, increasing the Bulls’ win total from 41 games to a league-best 62. Morant’s Grizzlies team won 38 games in last year’s abbreviated season (translated to 43 in an 82-game regular season), and their record of 29-14 as of Jan. 12 puts them on pace for 55 wins based on shooting percentage. victories.
If you’re going to rank the most athletic point guards of the last 20 years, Morant and Rose, the year of MVP, will be at or near the top of the list. What they both have in common is that they could get to their spots even with full defenses against them. They’re players from different eras, which makes comparing apples to apples a bit more difficult. But either one would dominate in the other’s era. That greatness is the common thread.