Derrick Rose was one of the best players in the NBA before a string of knee injuries forced him to miss all or most of two seasons and perhaps the remainder of this current season.
His unfulfilled potential these last three seasons has put him in a class all his own, according to a new article from fivethirtyeight.com.
Through age 23 (for Rose, the 2011-12 season), the Bulls guard had generated 26.1 wins above replacement (WAR), a total that ranks 32nd among all NBA players since the 1977 ABA-NBA merger. For comparison’s sake, LeBron James is the 23-and-under leader over that span, with 82.2 WAR. But plenty of great players — from Adrian Dantley to Shawn Kemp and Shareef Abdur-Rahim — also had fewer WAR than Rose through the same age.
Based on his average yearly performance through age 23, it would have been fair to expect about 26 more WAR from Rose between the ages of 24 and 26.5 However, Rose produced just 0.9 WAR between his lost 2012-13 and the current 2014-15 season. Through no fault of Rose’s own, that 25 WAR shortfall was the largest of any player in the sample I examined, a tangible measure of just how much was lost over the past three years.
Fivethirtyeight writer Neil Paine breaks down the numbers in this chart, with Rose well ahead of the class.
Note how rare it is for the players listed to do anything positive after age 27.
It is possible? Sure. But history will be working very hard against Rose.