In the wake of the discussion surrounding the Knicks and Derrick Rose as it relates to a contract extension, I thought it would be prudent to take a look at the numbers of both Rose and Brandon Jennings to get a good idea how productive both have been to start the season.
The eye test tells me that the Knicks are at their best when Rose and Jennings are surrounded by three jump-shooters, considering neither does a particularly good job of stretching the defense from three-point range.
That immediately causes a "space" issue for the Knicks in the half court offense. Rose is just 7 of 27 this year (26 percent), while Jennings is shooting just a bit better with more frequent attempts making 16 of 53 for 30 percent.
Interestingly, Jennings tends to shoot his threes after pounding the ball either in transition or in their half-court sets. Per NBA Stats, Jennings is taking 11.9 percent of his three-pointers very early in the shot clock (22-to-18 seconds left) making just 25 percent of them.
Rose's limited attempts have come mainly (6.6 percent) in catch-and-shoot situations, meaning the ball has made its way back to him later in the shot clock and he's forced into those attempts and the results are a disastrous 17.6 percent. Amazingly, Rose is a better pull-up three point shooter percentage-wise (50 percent) than he is from anywhere else on the floor (34 percent).
Since we're talking about the point guard position, the numbers actually indicate that Rose has facilitated the offense well -- as has Jennings -- but in different ways. Rose is averaging roughly 11.5 more minutes per game and obviously has the responsibility of matching up against the other team's first unit on both ends.
Through 17 games, Rose has averaged 59.8 passes made per game, resulting in 9.9 "potential" assists, which is 30th in the league. He's also averaging 1.4 secondary, or hockey, assists, which is tied for 14th in the NBA right behind the likes of Chris Paul, James Harden, and Isaiah Thomas, who are tied for 8th at 1.5 secondary assists per game. Overall, Rose is averaging 12.2 points created, which ranks him 28th.
Jennings is averaging 4.8 assists per game in a shade over 20 minutes per and the numbers suggest he is the better primary assist point guard than Rose is. Jennings actually passes less per game (43.8), yet he creates more potential assists (10.4), 29th in the NBA, and far less secondary assists (0.5). Overall, Jennings is averaging 11.2 points created, which is tied for 36th in the NBA. When you combine the two, Rose and Jenning are creating 23.4 points per game, which is less than the individual efforts of James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Lebron James.
Now that we understand the passing behavior, let's look a bit deeper into how those passes are connecting. The eye test tells me that Jennings and Kristaps Porzingis have a better connection but the reality is Rose does.
Only 17 percent of Jennings' passes have gone to Porzingis, resulting in 1.5 field goals made per game on just 44.6 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent from three. Conversely, Rose and Porzingis have really connected as Rose is passing to Porzingis 11.5 times per game (28 percent frequency), resulting in 52 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from three.
So what does this all mean? Clearly, the two players have completely different styles and that contrast actually benefits the Knicks as head coach Jeff Hornacek can flexibly fit players to suit each style as long as players are making shots.
Rose wants to get the ball out of his hands early to generate the offense, while Jennings holds it more, preferring to wait for a ball screen and allow that to dictate the flow of the offense. Rose and Porzingis have created a solid connection, despite Porzingis rarely playing the 5-spot with Rose and both point guards have been very capable in getting teammates involved.
If either could find a way to make more long-range jump shot, the Knicks would have to feel even better than they already do with their two-headed point guard situation.