The Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls have two of the top records in the Eastern Conference. Each team is led a by point guard once taken with the No. 1 overall selection in the draft–Derrick Rose by the Bulls in 2008 and John Wall by the Wizards in 2010.
Before his Wizards played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 26, Wall discussed a budding rivalry between himself, Rose and Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 pick in 2011. Via ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin, Wall said:
"I think between me, [Irving] and Derrick, we’re always going to be rivals, in my opinion. Number one picks, all in the Eastern Conference, I think it’s going to be a battle for a long time, I mean as long as everybody is healthy and playing. That’s what everybody is going to want to see."
While Irving plays the second or third banana in Cleveland behind LeBron James and Kevin Love, Wall and Rose are the undisputed biggest stars on each of their respective ballclubs. At this point in their careers, is it reasonable to argue that the 24-year-old Wall is now a better player than the 26-year-old Rose, a former league MVP?
We’ll start by examining their overall statistics. Even though he entered the NBA two years earlier than Wall did, because of Rose’s injury history the two have played a fairly even number of regular season games. Here are each players career averages:
The stats are surprisingly similar and almost a toss-up as far as who’s appear more impressive. Rose has slightly better shooting and scoring numbers, but Wall gets the nod in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Based on the statistics alone and with no prior knowledge of each player, one might consider the two to be about even.
However, that’s not the case. Rose is the MVP from 2010-11 who carried his team to an NBA-best 62 wins and an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. Wall’s Wizards have posted just a single winning season during his tenure, when they went 44-38 and fell to the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the playoffs last year.
But that is the past, and the purpose of this comparison is to focus on the present. Below are the stats of both Rose and Wall so far this season:
As far as the numbers go, it’s really no contest. Wall is outperforming Rose in virtually every statistical category. In Rose’s defense, it’s quite possible he’s still working his way back from injury and not yet playing at 100 percent.
As he recovers his court time will increase (Wall is averaging nearly nine more minutes per game than Rose) and so will his averages. But is there really such a thing as a fully healthy Derrick Rose anymore?
Wall’s 9.6 assists per game rank second in the Eastern Conference, behind only Rajon Rondo‘s 10.9. Rose’s 5.1 would place him twelfth in the East in that category, but he hasn’t played in enough games to qualify.
The Bulls have taken the floor 19 times this season with their All-Star point guard in uniform for just 11 of those occasions. On the other hand, Wall played in all 82 contests for Washington last year and he’s suited up for each of his club’s 17 games this season as well.
Considering Wall’s better numbers, his significantly healthier track record and the fact that he’s two years younger, it’s easy to make a case that he’s surpassed Rose on the list of top-tier NBA point guards.