Derrick Rose got the whole world at his feet a couple of nights ago when he scored a career-high 50 points to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 128-125 victory over the Utah Jazz, showing a glimpse of what he could’ve been if he’d never got hurt.
Rose was all over the hardwood in both sides of the glass and did most of his damage from within close range despite Rudy Gobert’s presence, and that definitely makes everybody wonder how great he’d be if injuries had respected his career.
For years now, Russell Westbrook has been compared with Rose, as everybody said Rose was Westbrook before Westbrook. Truth or not, they are very similar players, at least at first sight, even though we may prefer one of the other.
Today, we’re going to put an end to that conversation, as we’re going to break down both players to try and see which one of them is better, comparing Rose’s prime with Westbrook’s career.
Inside Scoring - Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose showed us a glimpse of what he was capable of doing earlier in his career when he humiliated Rudy Gobert the other night. Westbrook is a great inside scorer, but look at Rose’s footwork, his ability to turn the corner, stop short, finish with both hands, and you name it. Back in the day, he was one of the best inside scorers in the league.
Outside Scoring - Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose has never been much of a three-point shooter, other than some key clutch makes from beyond the arc. Throughout his career, he’s shot 29.7% from three on 3.3 attempts per game. Even so, Westbrook has been even worse in that regard and he’s currently shooting a horrid 11% from long range and 30.9% in his career.
Playmaking - Derrick Rose
Well, Derrick Rose used to be one of the deadliest playmakers in the league. With his ability to drive, it looked like he had eyes on the back of his head to find an open guy in the perimeter. He was crafty and creative, and rarely made mistakes. Westbrook has always averaged most assists than Rose, but honestly, most of those assists have been stat padding pick and roll easy buckets.
Athleticism - Russell Westbrook
Westbrook is, according to most insiders, the most athletic player they’ve ever seen. Westbrook can contour his body to finish with both hands, is an explosive dunker, has a truly high vertical leap and can put every big man on a poster with great ease. Rose was also an athletic freak back in the day, but there’s no comparing with Russell.
Defense - Russell Westbrook
Derrick Rose has never been much of a good defender, and other than attacking passing lanes, he was pretty much a liability at that end of the floor. Russell Westbrook isn’t a lockdown defender per se, but he’s proven to be really crafty, suffocating, committed and agile when playing against top-tier players.
Rim Protection - Russell Westbrook
Neither of those guys are good rim protectors even though they both have the athleticism and hops to be way better than they are. Mostly, it’s been lack of commitment, as they’ve both recorded huge blocks against top-tier players in key stretches. Still, we give the nod to Westbrook here, being a slightly better defender and a more athletic guy.
Rebounding - Russell Westbrook
Obviously, Russell Westbrook wins this one by a long shot. Westbrook is one of the best rebounding guards ever, a walking triple-double threat that makes Oscar Robertson look like a child. Throughout his career, he’s averaged 6.6 rebounds a game compared to Rose’s 3.6, not to mention his back-to-back seasons averaging a triple-double.
Clutch - Derrick Rose
Russell Westbrook has always tried to be clutch, but he hasn’t truly succeeded. Westbrook won’t hesitate to take the last shot, but truth to be told, he should’ve given the chance to an open teammate in most of those opportunities. Rose, in the other hand, always game huge when it mattered the most, and even in the last years of his career, he hit game-winning shots and even a game-saving block in his 50 point effort.
Leadership - Derrick Rose
On that same note, Russell Westbrook hasn’t been the best of leaders throughout his career. Westbrook is a very good teammate, according to some of the guys he’s played with, but his way of playing the game has shown he doesn’t trust his teammates in the clutch. Rose, on the other hand, always made everybody around him better, and successfully led his team to the playoffs.
Basketball IQ - Derrick Rose
Well, we don’t love either of those guys when it comes to their basketball IQ, but back in the day, Rose was a way more coachable player and a guy that understood when to drive, when to pick and pop, when to cut and when to pull up. Westbrook has always been careless with the ball, and he’s never taken good care of the ball. Rose has never averaged more than 3.4 turnovers per game, compared to Westbrook’s 5.4.
Better Scorer - Russell Westbrook
Even though Rose has a better touch from three-point land and is one of the craftiest finishers from within the close range, we have to give the nod to Russell Westbrook here. His career high is 58 points and has even managed to get a couple of scoring titles. Rose was a great scorer, but Westbrook is one of the best scorers in modern basketball.
Impact - Derrick Rose
Over the course of his career, Russell Westbrook has been labeled as a stat padder and a guy that would much rather win an MVP than an NBA Championship, and that kind of play has really hurt his team when it matters the most. On the other hand, Rose did everything for the Bulls during his MVP campaign. Rose led the Bulls to the best record in the East and looked poised to take down LeBron as the King of the conference, while Westbrook could barely lead his team to the postseason without help.
1 on 1 Game: Derrick Rose
Well, we actually believe Russell Westbrook could beat everybody in the world on a 1 on 1 game, especially because of his competitive nature and his determination to prove he’s better than anybody. Even so, he couldn’t have handled a prime Rose. Westbrook was stronger and better in the post, but Rose’s craftiness, crossovers and ability to put defenders on skates would’ve embarrassed Russ in the paint. Also, he’s a better shooter.