Derrick Rose Could Be a Better Kyrie Irving Replacement Than You Think

Assuming Irving is traded, Rose could help keep the Cavs atop the Eastern Conference if he reverts to being more of a set-up man.

"Wait, what?"

That's what the entire Chicago Bulls fan base said in unison upon hearing that their one-time hometown hero, Derrick Rose, signed a one-year, $2.1 million contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The memory of Rose's Bulls-era playoff losses to the LeBron James' Cavs and Miami Heat still burn Chicagoans -- but it apparently doesn't faze Rose. As has been the case with many NBA superstars (or, in this case, former superstars) over the last decade, the MVP of the 2010-11 season decided that since he couldn't beat James, he'd join him.

Plus Cleveland was one of the few NBA franchises who showed any interest, so there's that.

With Kyrie Irving in the process of kvetching his way out of Ohio, Rose's role in Cleveland is very much up in the air.

If Irving stays put -- which, at this point, would be exceedingly awkward considering that James, according to Stephen A. Smith, wants to do mean things to Kyrie's hindquarters -- Rose could see 20-ish minutes a night playing behind Irving. Or if Cavs coach Tyronn Lue is so inclined, he could start Rose at shooting guard, where he'd see 30-ish minutes a night alongside Kyrie.

Thing is, for a potential shooting guard, Rose isn't much of a shooter.

For context, Rose's career effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 47.4% is lower than that of such notorious bricklayers as A.C. Green (50.0%), Antoine Carr (50.3%), and Danny Ferry (50.6%). (Yeah, yeah, I know it's not fair to compare a point guard's numbers to those of some slow paint dudes, but whenever you have the opportunity to bust out an Antoine Carr reference, you take it.)

As for his true shooting percentage (TS%), the career leaders currently playing in the NBA are Tyson Chandler (62.4%), Stephen Curry (61.6%), and Kevin Durant (60.8%). Next to that, D-Rose's 52.1% doesn't look so hot.

Year FG% 2PT% 3PT% eFG% TS%
2008-09 47.5% 48.1% 22.2% 48.2% 51.6%
2009-10 48.9% 50.0% 26.7% 49.5% 53.2%
2010-11 44.5% 48.1% 33.2% 48.5% 55.0%
2011-12 43.5% 47.5% 31.2% 47.3% 53.2%
2013-14 35.4% 35.9% 34.0% 40.2% 44.6%
2014-15 40.5% 46.5% 28.0% 45.0% 49.3%
2015-16 42.7% 44.9% 29.3% 44.8% 47.9%
2016-17 47.1% 48.7% 21.7% 47.7% 53.0%
Career 45.1% 47.9% 29.8% 47.4% 52.1%

For the sake of argument, let's say that a Cleveland shooting guard spot is a no-go, and let's also say that Kyrie avoids an LBJ butt-whuppin' and is sent packing. Rose will then become the de facto starter, which will give him the opportunity to play alongside James, who would be by far his most talented teammate ever.

During his tenure with the Bulls, Rose was the unquestioned alpha dog, while in his one year with the New York Knicks, he played second fiddle to Carmelo Anthony. Comparing Rose's per-36-minute numbers with Chicago (when he was The Man) with his per-36 with New York (when he wasn't) could indicate how he'll work with James. And just for the heckuvit, I've included Irving's 2016-17 per-36 digits.

Split Points Assists Rebounds
Derrick Rose: 2009-16 20.3 6.4 3.8
Derrick Rose: 2016-17 20.0 4.9 3.8
Kyrie Irving: 2016-17 25.9 6.0 3.3

When in his Chicago heyday, Rose had a number of scoring options at his disposal, among them Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, a healthy Joakim Noah, and an emerging Jimmy Butler. On the Knicks, we're looking at Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and not much else -- all of which tells us that Rose is a better distributor when he has more (and better) distributees, which isn't too shocking.

In Cleveland, Rose will have two targets with killer Player Efficiency Ratings in James (27.1) and Kevin Love (21.1), a vast improvement over Anthony (17.9) and Porzingis (17.4). Also in the house are J.R. Smith, Jeff Green, and Rose's old pal Korver, all of whom have big-point potential.

If Rose chooses to focus on his playmaking rather than his scoring -- and one can fairly assume that that's exactly what he'll have to do in order to avoid a smackdown courtesy of LeBron -- he could be a quality complimentary offensive piece.

So will Rose sacrifice his scoring, channel his inner John Stockton, and become an elite set-up man? Well, during his 2010-11 MVP season, Rose averaged 7.7 dimes -- not Stockton numbers, but not bad -- as compared to Irving's 2016-17 assist average of 5.8.

So who knows -- those two additional nightly assists might be enough to earn the Cleveland Cavaliers a ring.