The comparison between Derrick Rose and John Wall is about as natural as they come.
Both played college basketball for one year under John Calipari. Both are point guards drafted with the first pick in the NBA Draft. Now that we have a small sample size for Wall, it's safe to say both have taken the league by storm.
But at the end of the day, which player is going to have the better NBA career? Who is going to win more awards, make more All-NBA teams and win more championships?
While no one can predict the future, John Wall has played enough NBA games to get a good idea of what he brings to the table night in and night out (for example, a triple-double). Rose has already won the Rookie of the Year award, made the All-Star team, helped lead Team USA to a gold medal in the FIBA Championships and helped the Bulls make the playoffs in his first two seasons.
Rose has done just about everything you could hope for in two seasons in the NBA. But who's to say Wall can't do even better?
Wall does some things on the court better. Rose does some things on the court better. In the end, breaking down the two point guards' strengths and weaknesses will reveal who will be the better player in the end.
Much has been made about Rose's improved jump shot in the offseason. So far in the regular season, he has remained a streaky shooter. But when Carlos Boozer comes back, that's sure to change.
Right now both Rose and Wall are shooting less than 30 percent from three-point range, while Rose has a slight advantage in field-goal percentage overall. That, of course, has a lot to do with his ability to attack the basket, which is another point in itself.
Meanwhile, Wall holds an edge at the free-throw line, shooting better than 78 percent, while Rose has shot an even 75 percent this season.
Any way you slice it, each of these point guards need to work on improving their shooting percentages to become even more effective leaders of their respective teams.
A race between these two players would probably be as close as the Breeders' Cup Classic last weekend. For those of you that don't follow horse racing, Zenyatta lost by a head to Blame.
In other words, these two guys are about as fast as they come in the NBA. So why am I selecting John Wall over Derrick Rose?
Maybe I've just gotten used to Rose's quickness. Maybe he still doesn't look comfortable enough with the ball in his hands.
Or maybe it's just that Wall looks faster than any player I've ever seen.
It was one thing when he was blazing past his foes in college. But now he's making the professionals look silly as well. Wall looks fluid in the open court and comfortable with the ball in his hands. Out in open space, there's no question in my mind I'd take Wall.
Now, when it comes to tight spaces and heavy traffic...
Derrick Rose is the best point guard in the NBA when it comes to attacking the rim and finishing with authority.
It explains why, in the summer of 2010, people were calling him a "mini-LeBron." While not blessed with the Karl Malone-build that James has, Rose still fearlessly attacks the basket. Generally he either converts a reverse layup or floater, or Joakim Noah tips it back in.
Wall, of course, is not too shabby either. Wizards fans have seen enough to know their team made the right decision with the top pick in 2010.
Still, when Rose makes an acrobatic, mid-air play, Bulls fans are happily reminded of another super-athletic guard.
Right now the average assists numbers for Rose and Wall are nearly identical, with Wall holding a slight advantage with 9.6 per game to Rose's 9.2.
But that's not a fair comparison. Look at Rose's numbers from his first two seasons: 6.3 and 6.0.
I've come to terms with the fact that Rose is never going to be a true point guard. For the Bulls to succeed, he can't be. Rajon Rondo has the luxury of dishing out 20 assists per game, because he has playmakers to score for him.
The Bulls are getting there, but their weakness at shooting guard, as well as Deng's inability to create his own shot, make it difficult for Rose's role to be anything but a dynamic scorer.
Meanwhile, Wall has all the makings of a Chris Paul-type point guard, one who can score 20 points per game, but who will get those scoring opportunities only when he can't pass first. Wall is not quite there yet, but his court vision and fluidity with the ball will allow him to progress in that direction.
Again, the sample size is small. But when a rookie has nine steals in one game, even if it was against Philadelphia, people will take notice.
I'm not saying that one big game makes him a better defender than Rose, but I do believe John Wall has better intangibles for staying in front of his man and intercepting passing lanes. Rose, on the other hand, seems to be understanding defense better under Tom Thibodeau, but his body is not keeping up with his mind.
A player with Rose's athleticism should be averaging at least one steal per game, yet that has not happened in either of his first two seasons, and he's not on pace this year.
Great defense is something that must be learned. It's hard to blame Rose for not learning much under Vinny Del Negro. But if he does not improve under Thibodeau, widely considered one of the game's best defensive minds, then he may never learn.
Both players are freakishly athletic, but just as Rose is able to finish at the rim more effectively than Wall, he is also able to leap quicker and contest shots at the rim.
Similarly to LeBron, Rose has that burst to chase down an opponent on a fast break and swat away an easy layup attempt. He has also had a few clutch blocks in game-altering situations, when he just sprung up to block a shot attempt.
Granted, both of these players are point guards, and they are not going to get a ton of blocked shots. Rose currently has four this season. Wall has one.
This is almost an unfair category because leadership and experience go hand-in-hand. Two years from now, Wall should have the same standing in the NBA as Rose does now.
Until then, the starting point guard for Team USA gets the nod.
Just about every young player who competed in the FIBA Championships this summer raved about how great of a learning experience it was. Kevin Durant seemed ready to not only take the Oklahoma City Thunder to new heights, but also assume the face of the entire league.
Rose is much the same way. All of a sudden, the media-shy point guard started bragging about his jump shot and suggesting he might have a chance at MVP: 22-years-old, say what?
Wall, of course, was the floor general and leader of his Kentucky Wildcats team, and he will soon fully assume that role in Washington. Until then, advantage Rose.
(Speaking of leadership, another similarity between these two players is the presence of Kirk Hinrich.)
This hardly needs explaining. Rose and Wall are both good young athletes looking to stay out of trouble and just excel on the basketball court. When arguably the biggest knock on Rose is that he eats too much candy, an owner can sit back and smile.
The same goes for Wall. Many reports are saying that, even though there are concerns about the influence Gilbert Arenas will have on the young guard, most don't think he will have any impact at all because Wall is so determined and focused on basketball and behaving himself.
Sound like two great guys to build teams around.
After comparing both players, what can really be said, honestly? Each player is ever-so-slightly better than the other in a few areas, but not noticeably enough to forecast a better future.
Right now, Rose has the advantage of achieving about as much as anyone can in his first two years in the league. If Wall does not do the same, he will remain behind Rose. Washington also doesn't look like a championship contender anytime soon, so Rose is on pace to beat him to a ring as well.
Yet Wall's recent triple-double was astounding. He was just four steals away from a quadruple-double.
Agree? Disagree? Who's going to have the better career?