The NBA is currently enjoying a very point-guard rich era.
The battle to earn a spot on either the Western or Eastern All-Star roster from the point guard position is a very challenging proposition, with the likes of Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Chauncey Billups, Steve Nash providing the competition.
Don't forget the young guns Stephen Curry and John Wall both quickly approaching the elite point guard conversation like Ferraris in the rear-view mirror as well.
Franchises that feature an All-Star caliber point guard generally have a real shot at competing. The NFL is very similar to the NBA in that way. Not coincidentally, the vast majority of that list have their respective teams headed towards a playoff berth.
So I pose the question, if you could only have the services of one point guard for a playoff run, who would you choose? Rather than open the Pandora's Box of 'Who's better: Rose, Paul, Williams, Rondo or Westbrook,' I'll limit the field to Derrick Rose (leading MVP candidate in 2010-11, starter for the Eastern Conference All-Stars) and Chris Paul (starter for the Western Conference All-Star).
Derrick Rose is often criticized for shooting too much. I've heard a variety of analysts critique him (Skip Bayless comes to mind) for essentially playing as more of an undersized shooting guard.
To me these allegations are wildly inaccurate. I think Rose is indeed a point guard, but one who has been asked to provide a lot more scoring due to the makeup of the Bulls' roster since his addition in 2008.
Who would the pundits prefer to see get more shot attempts? Keith Bogans?
Teams and fans alike expect elite players to raise their games when it matters most, and Derrick Rose has certainly been up to that challenge thus far in his young career.
Rose's career scoring average in the playoffs is nearly 23 per contest, a sizable increase over his career average of 20 a game.
In Rose's first-ever playoff game, a road contest against the defending champion Celtics in his rookie season, he put on a performance for the record books.
Chris Paul is certainly more of the prototype point guard, an individual who's chief objective is getting his teammates involved.
Paul doesn't shoot nearly as often as Rose, but his offensive efficiency is supreme over Rose. Paul bests him in field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage as well as three-point percentage.
Chris Paul is in his sixth season, Derrick Rose is in his third. Rose's scoring average has gone up every year of his career. Paul's has gone up and down like a roller coaster.
Rose and Paul are both the unquestioned leaders of their two franchises, with both guards serving as their team's chief luminary.
Paul has long displayed tremendous leadership skills and maturity, even as a rookie where he started 78 times for the Hornets. CP3 means an unprecedented amount to New Orleans.
For example, the 37 games he missed a year ago resulted in a substandard 37-45 mark.
Rose is regarded as the captain of the Bulls as well, but he relies more heavily on having his team follow him by example rather than motivating his teammates vocally. That has much to do with the reserved nature of Rose's personality.
Both have a ton of great things going for them, obviously. They are two of the top 10 players in the world.
Two young men who will earn starring roles annually at the All-Star game for the foreseeable future.
Two guards who are loaded with skill and who both yearn to lead their franchises to heights they've never reached (Hornets) or haven't seen for nearly 15 years (Bulls).
But give me Derrick Rose.
Rose is the 21st century's model of point guard, a Corvette model with breakaway speed, game-changing dribble moves, an increasingly effective jump shot, the vertical leap of Dominique Wilkins in his prime, defensive tenacity not seen at the point guard position since Gary Payton, and lastly, a chip on his shoulder the size of the United Center because a number of marquee free agents spurned Rose and his cap-friendly Chicago Bulls in favor of signing elsewhere (that means you, LeBron, D. Wade, Amare, Bosh).
And what do you have? An unselfish, freakishly athletic 6'3" point guard, who scores 25 a night, corrals eight assists along with it, competes his keister off defensively every night, jumps out of the gym and has zero ego to speak of.
In an age where everybody wants to compare modern players to players of yesteryear, nobody can even begin to find a decent comparison to D. Rose due to his individual brilliance. He's too damn good.
The book on Rose used to be that you go under the screen and roll, dare him to shoot it, and keep him out of the lane. Said book has been rendered completely and utterly useless, thanks to the work he's diligently put in the last couple off-seasons.
Rose's repetitions with Team USA Basketball this past summer as "the man," coupled with his insatiable desire to improve his once-streaky mid-range game has left Derrick Rose as unguardable.
As the Bulls' roster has improved around him, Chicago has predictably taken off and in so doing, taken the league by storm this season.
He has upped his three-point percentage and free-throw percentage significantly (they weren't a total abomination to begin with), has increased his assists total by more than two per contest, and has his Chicago Bulls blowing past the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat and knocking on the Boston Celtics door for the right to home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
The kid won't even turn 23 until next season begins, and already he has obliterated the "Who is better, Deron Williams or Chris Paul?" argument.
That debate is irrelevant largely because he's better than both without question, and has surpassed the two veterans in just his third season.
Derrick Rose has become a household name, but he still isn't in the company of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, at least in the eyes of the casual NBA fan.
But as his Chicago Bulls venture deeper into the playoffs this year and beyond, he will garner the national attention and accolades that come along with team success.
Similar to the manner in which he took the great point-guard debate and turned it into a ridiculously one-sided proposition, Rose will soon distance himself from the other elite players in the game today and be mentioned among the NBA's hierarchy of superstars.
The decision is an easy one. Give me Derrick Rose for any playoff series, and I like my chances.
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