When the Cleveland Cavaliers signed Derrick Rose this off season, many wondered why and what role he would play in the team. While he’s still yet to play a game for the Cavs, one has to wonder if there’s a secondary reason the Cavaliers signed him besides improving their depth at Point Guard.
An interesting theory that was brought up back when Rose was still on the Bulls. It pondered if Rose could single-handedly hold his own against the Warriors, or more realistically be the primary scoring option against the leagues best team. According to Kyle Thele of the Chicago Sun Times, Rose elevates his game against certain opponents:
“Derrick Rose may frustrate Bulls fans, but there is one thing everyone can bank on – against another star point guard, Rose is going to bring his best.”
So this poses the question: did the Cavaliers get Derrick Rose specifically for Golden State?
Yes, but at the same time, no.
Yes. Throughout his career, Derrick has consistently been able to put up big numbers against the Warriors. They’re a very strong team, but one of their weakness is paint scoring. Revisiting another passage from Kyle Thele of the Chicago Sun Time, his take on Derrick Rose’s game fits in with a small potential weakness in the Warriors.
“Rose’s success came as he attacked the basket. He was able to repeatedly create separation from his defender and put up shots near the rim.”
Rose is awesome at getting to the basket, while having enough athleticism to get around big rim protectors. The Warriors current regular players in this role are Javale McGee and Zaza Pachlia, who both were shown to be exploitable by the Cavs offense this past finals. The two were able to cause problems for Tristan Thompson in that series, but Rose should be shifty enough Tom get around their rim protection. This would improve the Cavs effectiveness in the paint that they found towards the end of that series.
If there’s still convincing that is needed as to if Rose was targeted for his effectiveness against Golden State, his numbers help to paint the picture more. Three of his last four games that occurred after his ACL surgery prove he still is quite effective against the defending NBA Champs.
2014-2017 vs. Golden State (per Basketball Reference):