Who's better: Lillard or Irving?

The rookie's older than the vet, but who's better? It's closer than you think

Originally Published: January 23, 2013
By Chris Palmer | ESPN The Magazine

In this space we'll break down the best individual matchup of the week to see who's the better player. But toss out career accomplishments or potential. This is about ability -- strengths, weaknesses, intangibles -- and who gives his team the best chance to win. It's about the only thing that matters when you step on the court on any given night -- who's better right now.

This is the Golden Age of point guards. While highly decorated mainstays like Tony Parker and Steve Nash enter their Hall-of-Fame sealing twilight years, the likes of Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Deron Williams enter their primes.

It's time to include Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard in the next wave of young floor generals. Both are extremely polished at early stages in their career and are are good bets to be named All-Star reserves.

Mega-talent Irving, who poured in 40 against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, wows with pizzazz and charm, but the quiet and unexpectedly upstart Lillard has commanded respect through savvy beyond his years and impeccable fundamentals.

But who's better? At first glance, Irving seems to have a clear upper hand. But let's take a look at five crucial categories and break down both talented point guards.

Chris Palmer

ESPN the Magazine