Culture of Hoops

Top fantasy basketball point guards: Kyrie Irving vs. Derrick Rose


You can’t have a discussion (or argument) about “The best point guard in the NBA” without throwing the names of Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls or Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers into the mix. Interestingly enough, in the upcoming 2013-14 fantasy season, both players’ career trajectories may just intersect statistically, thus narrowing their comparisons even further. No, the said event won’t cause an unstable singularity, contrary to what sci-fi nerds who are into fantasy basketball will tell you.

Irving is hitting what we statistically superstitious witch doctors in fantasy like to call the “third year bump.” It’s when most players see a significant rise in production during their junior year, after taking the first two seasons of their career to adjust to the pro game. He ended the 2012-13 season finishing off with an effective ranking between #12 to #14, which basically translates to late-first round value. If Irving is expected to build on that performance, how much better can good old “Uncle Drew” get? Well, his ceiling for fantasy still remains uncharted at this point. Basically, with Irving still being far from his prime, it’s pretty much “sky is the limit” as far as his potential is concerned. There’s no doubt that we’re probably enjoying the early years of the NBA’s future best point guard.

Derrick Rose is coming back this season and his return can’t come soon enough. Both he and the Chicago Bulls management wanted his long-term health to be a priority and they were willing to wait as long as needed for him to recover from surgery to repair his torn ACL.

And wait they did. The internet has been riddled with D-Rose memes highlighting how long he’s been gone.

“The last time Derrick Rose played was when…”

  • LeBron James had ZERO rings
  • Andre Iguodala was still with the Philadelphia 76ers
  • Steve Nash was still with the Phoenix Suns
  • Jason Kidd was still with the Dalla Mavericks and so was Jason Terry
  • Brian Scalabrine was still in the league
  • … and many more

Fine! We get it. He’s been gone for a really, really, really long time. Was that enough “reallys”? Well, he didn’t want to come back until he was one hundred percent healthy and apparently his recovery required him to miss the entire 2012-13 season. The bottom line is that he’s ready NOW and he’s reportedly as explosive as ever. Can he return to his pre-injury form? Definitely. How good can he be in fantasy? If his prudent approach to his recovery paid off, very good. Don’t forget we’re talking about the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player!

So, on one hand we have a former MVP on the comeback trail, while on the other we have a phenomenal young guard growing by leaps and bounds as each season goes by. Let’s take a quick look at each of their last-played seasons side by side.

Kyrie Irving 2012-13: 59 Games, 22.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 5.9 APG, 45.2 FG%, 85.5 FT%, 1.8 3PPG, 1.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 3.2 TO
Derrick Rose 2011-12: 39 Games, 21.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 7.9 APG, 43.5 FG%, 81.2 FT%, 1.4 3PPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 3.1 TO

As you can see with the exception of assists, which Rose wins, and threes and steals, which belong to Irving, their lines are remarkably comparable.

Here are their Top 10 plays in those aforementioned seasons:



So, which point guard between these two should you prioritize as a fantasy draft pick in the tail-end of the first round this season?


To answer that, I’ve picked the brains of the team of writers who have been working diligently behind the scenes, preparing content to give you a leg up this 2013-14 season. Here are our choices.

Eric Andrews
Though on the surface one might believe that we can make for an interesting comparison between Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose, this man’s opinion is it’s really not close. Sure, it’s a compelling story when a star player returns from a major injury. No question. Not to mention all the hoopla that surrounded Rose on whether or not he would, in fact, return for his team’s playoff run.

We all saw how in a different and grueling sport, Adrian Peterson returned from an equally serious injury. Not only did AP succeed, but he flourished and cemented his place as the best running back today.

With all that said, my choice, done with certainty and conviction, is Kyrie Irving.

I firmly believe Irving has the upside to be the best fantasy guard. I do respect Rose and feel he will have a solid upcoming season, but to me there is a difference between solid and being the best.

Marco Aventajado
In your first two rounds, you need to draft fantasy studs that will be the foundation of your team. There are a few strategies that you could employ: big guy (rebounds, blocks) and then a guard (assists, threes and steals), two bigs, two guards or even best talent available. What you shouldn’t get is someone that is injured or coming back from an injury. In my 20 years of fantasy basketball, I only broke this rule last year when I drafted Andrew Bynum late in the first round (10th out of 12 teams) and came back with Rajon Rondo in the second round (double ouch), thinking I could draft well in the late rounds and when Bynum comes back, contend for the championship. The thing was, Bynum never came back and you really need someone that will be solid for you night in and night out.

So, in this discussion of Rose versus Irving, hands down I am going to go with Irving. In the same draft last year, I passed on him twice and he got picked 17th and I’m not making the same mistake twice. That doesn’t mean I would pass on Rose three times, because the earliest you should gamble on an injured player, player coming back from an injury or a rookie is around the third to fourth round after you drafted your team’s foundation.

Frankie Buckets
Having been burned way too many times by a player coming off a major injury, I am one of the most pessimistic people you will ever encounter in a fantasy basketball draft. That said, Stephen Curry might have just changed my mind. In a relatively deep league, Curry has been my main keeper going on four years now. It goes without saying the last few years have been highly disappointing, but this past season, my dedication to Dell’s son finally paid off in a major way.

Now the question is posed, would I choose budding superstar Kyrie Irving or former MVP Derrick Rose heading into the 2013-14 season?

While I may have softened my stance towards drafting injured players, to me, this question is a no-brainer. Kyrie Irving is on his way to super stardom on the NBA hardwoods, as well as the fantasy basketball analogues. Even being a HUGE Bulls fan, I can still be honest regarding their players. To get down to the heart of the matter, Derrick Rose is technically a flawed player. To be blunt, his jump shot leaves much to be desired and his all-around game is predicated mostly on his speed. The problem lays in the unknowns. Will D-Rose be the same player? Can his knee hold up for 82 games without exploding all over the court? We just don’t know. If my choices comes down to Derrick Rose or Kyrie Irving, I have to go with Kyrie.

Should you be afraid to draft Derrick Rose? A little bit. But if the time is right and you are willing to take a calculated risk, the dividends may be huge.

Yours truly
After reading what my colleagues have dished out, I suppose that makes me the lone member of the minority that believes Rose will outperform Irving this coming season. I respected, in fact, liked, Rose’s extra-cautious approach to his recovery. He didn’t want to return if he wasn’t going to be able to play at the level the old D-Rose did. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be too far-fetched an idea that he will be performing at a level close to his MVP-form. His comeback value should catapult him to a top-five to top-seven fantasy finish this season.

I match concerns about Rose’s knees with the fact Irving isn’t exactly the healthiest stud in the barn either. He did miss more than a quarter playable games last season (23). While it is true that their injuries are apples and oranges, we still have to note that they all fall into the same basket of “durability.”

That being said, do I think Kyrie won’t do well this season? On the contrary, I think he will be phenomenal. It’s just that I predict Rose to outperform him by a hair.


It appears that Kyrie is the favorite to do better in fantasy this season. But since our evaluations probably echo most of the sentiments held by the average, yet informed fantasy manager, there’s a silver lining here.

Why not simply pick both? Draft Irving late in the first round and pick Rose as your bounce pick as he would more likely than not be available for the taking. You’d be forming the core of a fantasy team that would be fielding a ridiculously sick backcourt combo. Yeah, go ahead, have your cake and it too!

As always, don’t forget to check out Points in the Paint for more fantasy basketball awesomeness!

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