The careers of Penny Hardaway and Derrick Rose are eerily similar: Both came into the league as lottery draft picks, Hardaway picked third overall in the 1993 NBA Draft and Rose was the top pick in the 2008 Draft. Over the first four years of their careers, the players became superstar highlight machines and point guards believed to become one of the best of all-time.
After their fourth season (or in the case of Rose, in the playoffs of his fourth year), the players suffered serious left knee injuries, leading to a streak of injuries and the players losing their explosive athletic abilities which made up a big part of their games. Now they are part of the "what-if" club, along with players like Ralph Sampson, Bill Walton, Brandon Roy, and Grant Hill of how good they could have been.
Though their careers did not stay at the heights they hit so early on, the two former stars left a lot of great memories, moments, and this is a discussion of which one is the better player.
Argument for Penny
Shooting wise, Hardaway was a more efficient scorer than Rose, shooting over .50% from the field two out of his first four years in the league. Hardaway also averaged 1.9 steals a game compared to Rose, who averaged less than a steal a game (0.9) during his healthy seasons. As a big point guard, standing at 6'7, Penny could pull down more rebounds than D-Rose (4.5>3.6).
However, there is one important factor that Rose has in front of Hardaway: The man in the middle. From the moment Derrick stepped on the basketball court, Derrick Rose was the face and man with the Chicago Bulls. The year before Penny was drafted, the Orlando Magic selected an LSU center named Shaquille O'Neal with their first pick. The Orlando Magic were clearly Shaq's team. He was the man. So in terms of value between the two, Derrick's influence on the Bulls was much greater than Hardaway's on Orlando.