Everyone and their mother has an opinion about the Minnesota Timberwolves mid-season signing of Derrick Rose and they range anywhere he’s a great player who hasn’t been given a chance recently, to he’s a garbage player whose injuries have depleted him to a shell of his former self, to questions about his off-court history.
Putting everything aside, and metrics be damned, I took on the glorious task of re-watching every single possession he’s played in a Timberwolves’ uniform so far and grading them on my own, homemade Sampson Scale (lame name, I know), as well divvying up his game into seven different categories. This exercise is meant to give us an unfiltered look at how he’s performed during his first five games. Of course, there’s some level of subjectivity that comes into play, but we will at least be able to get a better sense about the type of player he is today.
Disclaimer: This section is completely separate from the Sampson Scale below and is completely subjective based on what I saw on film.
Shooting: D. I know he hit at least one step back jumper, but other than that most of his buckets came from around the paint. The few shots he did attempt from further out didn’t have much of a chance of going in.
Scoring: B. He’s been in attack mode more times than not which is a great thing for Rose and the Timberwolves. He’s flashed his athleticism and finishing abilities a couple of times and can hopefully keep it going.
Shot selection: C+. This grade could be much lower if he weren’t converting the tough shots like he has. I know that shouldn’t change this grade, but if you make a bad shot it’s one thing, but if you miss a bad shot- look out.
Playmaking: C+. He hasn’t looked to pass very often, but when he has, the passes have been effective in setting up his teammates to score. He’s also had a few moments where he’s kept the ball moving or where he’s looked down low to Towns.
Ball Security: B+. He’s had a couple of ugly moments where he’s tried to force the issue with his dribbling, but for the most part he’s protected the rock.
Team defense (rotations, help): D. This is the area he struggles the most in. I understand it takes time to adjust to a new system even if he’s played for Tom Thibodeau before, but these grades aren’t adjusted for adjustment (if you know what I mean). Too often he’s late on pick-and-roll help or sticks too close to his man on the weakside instead of being in a help position for his teammates.
Off-Ball Defense: C-. He often stays way too close to his man off the ball even if they aren’t a threat to score from the outside. This has contributed to his low team defense grade because he’s often out of position.
Individual defense (1 on 1): B. I must admit he’s impressed me in this category. He’s been engaged so far and has displayed active feet. And Thibs has noticed as well since he put him on Harden down the stretch against Houston.
For a full explanation and video examples for my grades, check out the video below:
The Sampson Scale
Disclaimer: These grades are subjective and very loose. They are only meant to give me a baseline to grade the possessions on and not serve as the be all end all.
4- An “A” possession is where Rose went above and beyond what he was supposed to do on a specific play and it resulted in a positive outcome for himself and the Timberwolves. I.E. With around a minute and a half remaining in the 1st quarter against the Golden State Warriors, he looked to penetrate the middle and kicked the ball out when nothing was there. Then, when he cut to the basket and was in a perfect position to grab the offensive rebound when the shot went up and get the put back bucket.
3- A “B” possession means Rose did something very well on a given possession and it resulted in a positive outcome for himself and the Timberwolves. He could’ve done a little more, but it was worth it nonetheless. I.E. It could be something as simple as feeding Karl-Anthony Towns in the post when he’s open or fighting through screens on defense to contest a shot.
2- A “C” possession means Rose did exactly what he was supposed to do. It could’ve resulted in a positive or negative outcome, but he at least held his own and completed his job duties. It was also given when he wasn’t involved in the play in any way, shape or form and was the most common grade handed out. I.E. He’s placed in the corner on offense or guarded a man who’s not involved in the play on defense.
1- A “D” possession means he didn’t do what he should’ve done and it resulted in a negative outcome for himself or the Timberwolves. I.E. Takes a questionable shot or gives up an easy basket on defense.
0- A “F” possession means he royally screwed up and it resulted in a very negative outcome for himself or the Timberwolves. I.E. Attacking the rim and throwing up a shot with multiple defenders around him or letting his man go middle on a pick-and-roll after the ICE coverage was called.
*A few possessions were not graded if they were a quick fast break in either direction and Rose didn’t have the opportunity to make an impact on the play.
*The last two minutes of the Timberwolves-Spurs game was not graded because it was garbage time.
*The last 54 seconds of the Timberwolves-Rockets game was not graded because the Wolves were playing full-court zone and fouling.
Overall Grade: 2.03
In the name of transparency, I have released my grades for every possession of all five games below as well as the average grade per game. Have at it!