Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dwyane or LeBron? The surprising answer

Ever since the several retirements of Michael Jordan, the NBA publicity machine
has been desperate to anoint an heir apparent to his Airness. (Remember the
"White Chocolate" campaign?)
These days, LeBron James is being avidly promoted as "The King." Which is all
well and good, because the NBA needs a poster-player, and because James is a
phenomenal performer. However, as the recent Miami-Detroit series has
demonstrated, Dwyane Wade certainly has enough talent to challenge LBJ's rule.
So the question under consideration is this: Who's better, James or Wade?
Before the specifics are addressed, however, it should be noted that a direct
matchup isn't functional for two reasons: They both play different positions -
Wade is primarily a shooting guard, while James is a small forward (albeit a
"point/small forward" in the tradition of Rick Barry and J. Johnson). Also,
since Miami is a much better team than Cleveland, Wade and James have different
on-court responsibilities. At the same time, there are basic talents and
attitudes that transcend these caveats.
Let's investigate these specific attributes and grade both James and Wade on a
1-10 scale.


While James (6-8, 240) is incredibly quick for his size, Wade (6-4, 210) is at
least a step faster from baseline to baseline. Wade's lateral movement is
likewise superior to LBJ's, as is the quickness with which he can take the ball
to the rim.

WADE - 9


The only other wing/guard who compares to James in size and strength is Magic
Johnson. But James is 15 pounds heavier than Magic was, and is therefore even
more powerful. The only pure guard who had a combination of strength and size
that's similar to Wade's was Oscar Robertson. Still, in terms of their
respective positions, James has more of an edge of his contemporaries than does

WADE - 9
JAMES - 10


LBJ's crossovers are unsurpassable and undefendable. He's rarely ripped, or
whistled for traveling or palming. Wade's handle isn't as tricky, but he still
makes more mistakes than he should. Both are susceptible to being stripped when
undertaking spin moves in the upper lane area in heavy traffic.

WADE - 8


James can make every pass in the book with either hand. And since the Cavs'
offense is keyed off of his dribble-penetrations, there are suitable targets
everywhere. Wade isn't the Heat's primary playmaker, and most of his assists
come on dump-offs in the lane. Given that Wade has so much less ball time, it's
significant that his lifetime assist average (6.1) isn't that far behind
LeBron's (6.6).

WADE - 8
JAMES - 10

5>>>Creating own shot

This is where LeBron's ball-handling and footwork excel. Wade depends more on
the threat of his speed to create space for pull-ups. Both are incredible

WADE - 9
JAMES - 10

6>>>Spot shooting

This is a continuing problem area for James. Although his career 3-point
shooting percentage is a somewhat respectable .330, he's totally erratic. If an
official stat were ever to be recorded, it's highly likely that LeBron would
lead the league in air-balls. Wade is another iffy 3-ball shooter. His lifetime
regular season accuracy from beyond the arc is only 24.1% - but come the
playoffs, Wade is 37.5% from downtown. Wade is a better mid-range shooter, has
better mechanics, and is improving at a more rapid rate.

WADE - 7

7>>>Shot selection

James is frequently stuck with the ball as the shot clock counts down, but he
also has a penchant for launching too many ill-advised treys. Wade rarely forces

WADE - 9


A comparison of lifetime points per game stats indicates that James' edge is
substantial - 26.5 to Wade's 22.9. The difference, however, is that over the
course of their brief careers, James has taken nearly 500 more shots every
season. Another factor is that while Cleveland's offense goes through LBJ,
Miami's mostly goes through Shaq.

WADE - 10
JAMES - 10

9>>>Effectiveness without ball

The Cavs' offense is designed so that LBJ is almost always the distributor, and
therefore he's mostly uninvolved when the ball is in other hands. Cutting,
curling, filling a wing on a break - these are all things that James isn't
called upon to do. Wade isn't quite the perpetual-mover that Rip Hamilton is,
but he is a determined cutter - especially since Shaq is such a willing passer.

WADE - 8

10>>>Defensive position

James is usually too upright in his defensive stance, plays defense with his
hands and not his feet, and is more interested in blocking shots or deflecting
dribbles than in playing sound positional defense. Wade is good and getting
better at all aspects of defense. Wade is a slightly better defensive rotator.
Both are comparable shot-blockers and stealers.

WADE - 8


Because of his size and closer proximity to the basket, James is a much better
defensive rebounder (5.4 to Wade's 3.6). Surprisingly, though, Wade averages
1.4 offensive rebounds to LBJ's 1.2. If LeBron's rebounding numbers are just
about average for a small forward, Wade's are exceptional for a guard.

WADE - 9


Because he's the Cavs' go-to guy, LeBron is the main target of opponents'
defenses. In view of this, he's remarkably consistent with everything but his
exterior shooting. Since the Heat's opponents must necessarily focus on Shaq,
Wade has the freedom to be much more inconsistent - a liberty which he rarely

WADE - 9
JAMES - 10


Neither player ever backs down from anybody in any circumstances.

WADE - 10
JAMES - 10


James is effective (on offense) at all the guard and wing positions. He can
post, isolate, pass on the move, and is irresistible when driving to the basket.
Wade is strictly a guard, who can run, zip his way into the paint and finish,
and hit an increasing number of mid-range pull-ups and fadeaways. Wade can
function as a point guard only under duress.

WADE - 7

15>>>Superstar status granted by refs

LeBron's numerous traveling infractions are largely ignored. Indeed, he's
treated as though he was already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Because both are
frequent flyers and drivers, they both spend considerable time at the stripe.

WADE - 8
JAMES - 10


Both are still young and virtually indestructible. Out of necessity, James
plays 41.5 minutes per game - 46.5 in the playoffs. Wade's daylight is much
more reasonable - 37.6 in the regular season, and 40.4 in the playoffs. Over the
long haul, LBJ's inordinate playing time will increase the likelihood of his
incurring serious injuries. In their respective three-year careers, James has
missed a total of eight games, while Wade has been MIA for 33.

WADE - 8
JAMES - 10

17>>>In the clutch

Until Cleveland's recent first-round series against the Wizards, LBJ's output in
clutch possessions has been inadequate. Expect him to build on his late-game
performances versus Washington and become increasingly effective in crunch-time.
Wade, however, seems to have the knack of routinely delivering in these same
end-game situations. And because Shaq is such a woeful free-throw shooter,
D-Ward will continue to be the Heat's go-to scorer whenever a game is on the

WADE - 8


With each season, LeBron has become slightly more arrogant - although this
tendency has not yet reached a critical stage. This is totally understandable
given his youth and his celebrity. But, unless LBJ takes measures to resolve
this potentially dangerous development, he might wind up being just one more
NBA airhead. Wade's kinetic ego-power, however, is being held in check by the
massive presence of Shaq.

WADE - 10

The total scores are Wade 154, James 150. However, since all the categories
should not have equal weight, the face-to-face superiority of these two
incredible players remains a totally subjective matter.
If they were traded for each other, neither would be as effective. LBJ's forays
into the paint would be limited by Shaq's presence and he'd be forced to rely
more and on his shaky outside shooting. Wade's effectiveness would be greatly
reduced without a dreadnaught pivot man, and also by having to begin his offense
from a standstill.
Which player would I pick? That depends on the composition of the rest of the
roster. But with a gun to my head, I'd pick Wade because of his defense, the
perfectibility of his shot release, the fact that he can score mucho points with
out having every play run through him, and because of his truly humble nature.
But wouldn't we all love to see them play one-on-one? If the game was
make-it-take it, then whoever had the first possession would win every time. In
that scenario, LeBron's being able to win the opening jump ball would be his
ultimate advantage.

p.s. (by FiCS):

This site is only for girls and ladies.

WADE - ?

By Charley Rosen, rewritten by Foreigner in CS - Jun 6 2006 12:33PM

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