Derrick Rose vs. Chris Paul: Who Is the Best Point Guard in the NBA?

Ernest ShepardAnalyst IIIDecember 20, 2011

May the debate begin.
May the debate begin.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose has plenty to celebrate. Fresh off inking a five-year, $94 million extension, Rose led the Bulls to a 93-85 victory against the Indiana Pacers with nine assists. 

During the game he seemed to be right at home with his teammates. For those expecting chemistry problems between Rose and the newly acquired Richard Hamilton, those whispers may very well have been silenced after Hamilton scored the Bulls' first points of the game off an assist by Rose.

Some may argue that Hamilton being a veteran may have made that play look easy, and while that did play a role, the maturity of Derrick Rose was evident. For the first time in Rose's career, he is playing alongside a shooter with ideal size and scoring ability, thus curing one of the issues that have plagued his game.

Making his teammates better.

When you compare Rose to the top point guards in the league, almost everyone has the same argument—he doesn't set up his teammates enough and takes too many shots; doesn't get to the free throw line enough. 

The problem in setting up teammates has been a clear result of not having a complete complement of players.

For example, Luol Deng isn't necessarily a scoring forward. He can create shots off the dribble when he has to, but he's a slasher who last year was used as a spot-up shooter in the corners. Deng was limited with Keith Bogans on the floor last season because the defenders would pack the lane and take away the strengths of Deng and Rose—Deng as the cutter and Rose as the passer. The addition of Hamilton will create space for Rose in the passing lanes and Rose's assists will increase.

Getting to the free-throw line should be easier this season for Rose. He is the reigning league MVP and that will earn him the respect of the referees. 

I expect improvement in his assist and scoring numbers from last season, in which he averaged 7.7 assists and 25 points.

Where does that put him in the NBA's best point guard discussion? 

Some say the best is Chris Paul. Paul, however, is more of a true point guard who looks to pass first.  He averaged 15.9 points and 9.8 assists a game.  He will take over the game when he needs to and is a better defender. But when you compare the statistics starting from Rose's rookie year, it is a very interesting debate.

'08-'09 81 80 37.0 7.1-14.9 .475 0.2-0.9 .222 2.4-3.1 .788 1.2 2.7 3.9 6.3 0.2 0.8 1.5 2.5 16.8
'09-'10 78 78 36.8 8.6-17.6 .489 0.2-0.8 .267 3.3-4.3 .766 0.8 2.9 3.7 6.0 0.3 0.7 1.2 2.8 20.8
'10-'11 81 81 37.4 8.8-19.7 .445 1.6-4.8 .332 5.9-6.9 .858 1.0 3.1 4.1 7.7 0.6 1.0 1.7 3.4 25.0

'08-'09 78 78 38.5 8.1-16.1 .503 0.8-2.3 .364 5.8-6.7 .868 0.9 4.7 5.6 11.0 0.1 2.8 2.7 3.0 22.8
'09-'10 45 45 38.0 7.0-14.2 .493 1.2-2.8 .409 3.6-4.2 .847 0.4 3.8 4.2 10.7 0.2 2.1 2.6 2.5 18.7
'10-'11 80 80 36.0 5.4-11.6 .463 0.9-2.3 .388 4.2-4.8 .878 0.5 3.6 4.1 9.8 0.1 2.4 2.5 2.2 15.8

Scoring numbers aside, Chris Paul is a more efficient shooter. He can also boast about making players such as Tyson Chandler and Carl Landry better. Rose cannot say that. Still, Rose is more athletic and has that "damn this we're not losing" desire that Paul lacks. 

At the end of the day, basketball is all about winning, and in leading his team to the conference finals in his third year of the league, this is where Rose has the dominant edge. If that does not seal the deal, consider this statistic: Rose is undefeated head-to-head versus Paul. That's all the argument anyone needs.