More costly ACL injury: Rubio or Rose?

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Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (left) and Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio (right) each suffered a torn ACL.Ricky Rubio and Derrick Rose both tore their ACL’s this season. Rubio did so March 9 against the Lakers after the Timberwolves entered the day tied with the Rockets for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Rose went down with 1:10 remaining in Game 1 of the First Round and the game already in hand for the Bulls.

Which point guard was more valuable to their team’s success this season? Most would probably assume Rose, the reigning MVP, was once again one of the most valuable players in the NBA when he was healthy. But is it possible that Rubio could’ve been a more valuable player than Rose?


In games Rubio played this season, the Timberwolves were 21-20 and had a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Without him, the Timberwolves lost 20 of their final 25 games and finished last place in the Northwest Division.

Difference In Games Without Rubio/Rose
During 2011-12 Regular Season

With Rubio off the court, the Timberwolves were 7.1 points worse per 48 minutes. The Timberwolves offense wasn’t affected as much as their defense was without Rubio. They scored 1.4 more points and allowed 5.7 fewer points per 48 minutes with Rubio on the court.


Rose missed 27 games during the regular season and the Bulls were 18-9 in those games. They were significantly better at 32-7 with Rose, but they still maintained the top seed in the East without him.

The Bulls were 3.5 points worse per 48 minutes with Rose off the court this season. The Bulls were greatly affected offensively without Rose, but their defense actually improved. They scored 8.2 fewer points and allowed 4.7 more points per 48 minutes with Rose off the court.


Neither Rubio nor Rose will be able to compete for their respective countries in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Which player’s injury will have a larger effect, Rubio on Spain or Rose on USA?

In the 2010 FIBA World Championship, Rubio averaged 8.1 assists per 40 minutes, the second-highest behind Argentina’s Pablo Prigioni. Spain had to rely heavily on Rubio running the point without Jose Calderon, who injured his leg and didn’t play in Turkey.

Calderon will be an offensive asset, but Spain could be hurt defensively without Rubio. Since Calderon entered the NBA in 2004, nobody has better than his 4.1 assist-to-turnover ratio. This season, the Raptors scored more, shot better and had a much better assist-to-turnover ratio when Calderon was on the court, but their opponents also scored more and shot better while Calderon was out there.

Raul Lopez, Sergio Llull and Juan Carlos Navarro could also contribute for Spain at the point.

Rose led USA in assists per game (3.2) in the 2010 FIBA World Championship. Without him, USA’s point guard options are Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook. In the 2010 FIBA World Championship, Paul and Williams didn’t play and Westbrook averaged 18.8 points, 5.4 assists and 5.8 rebounds per 40 minutes. Paul (9.1 APG) and Williams (8.7 APG) both ranked in top five in the NBA this season in assists per game (Calderon was 4th and Rubio was 6th).