Often times, we utilize the word "elite" to categorize players who have established themselves as top tier talents. The truth of the matter is, it takes a lot more than skill and a short period of dominance to fit that bill.
The two players who are widely considered to be the best at their position.
Although it is impossible to compare the two players considering their difference in position and role, we can compare their positional dominance. In other words, which player stands further atop their position than the other?
Does CP3 control food chain of point guards more than Howard does that of centers? We're about to uncover the truth of this matter.
Since entering the league in 2005, Chris Paul has been one of the most well-rounded point guards in NBA history. CP3 has averaged at least 18.7 points per game in four of the past five seasons, as well as at least 9.1 assists in each of the past five.
That includes two seasons with at least 20 points and 11 assists.
Furthermore, the 2006 Rookie of the Year has led the league in assists twice and steals on four separate occasions. He has been named to five All-Star Games, four All-NBA appearances and another four All-Defensive Team selections.
Paul's career averages currently sit at 18.8 points, 9.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game. His slash line presently rests at a reputable .472/.361/.854.
Any of those numbers on their own could be compared to the NBA's upper echelon of present day greats. The most impressive and telling statistic, however, has to be the area that you'd expect to look at for a point guard.
With that mark of 4.4 per game, Paul has established himself as one of the best rebounders at his position. This is significant considering Paul stands at a generous 6'0" tall, which is roughly three inches below the league average.
This number is a product and reflection of his tenacity on both ends of the floor. With this pesky and relentless nature, it becomes perfectly clear why the former Wake Forest Demon Deacon is at the top of his position.
He will allow nothing to slow him down.
You want numbers? Dwight Howard has them for you.
The Orlando Magic selected the big man with the top pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. As a rookie, Howard averaged 12.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 0.9 steals per game, just missing out on the Rookie of the Year award due to Emeka Okafor's memorable year.
Since then, Howard has raised his career averages to 18.4 points, 13.0 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per contest. That rebound average is just .1 a game (eight boards over the course of a full season) behind Dennis Rodman's 13.1 per game for the highest career mark since 1973.
In other words, Dwight Howard is a hair away from being the best rebounder of the past 40 years. Don't believe it? Check the numbers.
In his career, Howard has pulled down at least 20 rebounds in 58 separate regular season games. He has 41 games with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds simultaneously, as well as another 58 with at least 5 blocks.
Howard was the youngest player in NBA history to reach 7,000 rebounds. He was also the youngest to reach every "thousand" mark up until the 7,000 number.
Such consistency suggests that Howard could potentially compete for the NBA record for rebounds in a career. A tall, but possible, task.
Howard is also the youngest player in NBA history to average a double-double, lead the league in rebounding and lead the league in blocked shots. Oh, and he won his first Defensive Player of the Year award at 23 years and 134 days old, which is another league record.
As for those awards, it doesn't stop at just one.
Howard has been selected to six All-NBA teams, including the past five first team nominations. He has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards, led the league in rebounding four times and topped the shot blocking charts twice.
Howard is also the only player in NBA history to put up 45 points, 19 rebounds and eight blocks in one game. He's also the only player in league history to lead the NBA in blocks, rebounds and field goal percentage simultaneously.
D-12 is also the only player since blocks became an official statistic in 1973 to lead the league in rebounds and blocks simultaneously in multiple seasons. How about that?
For the better part of a decade, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard have made their cases as the best player at their respective positions. The deciding factor in this battle for supremacy as the most dominant, however, is a comparison their peers.
CP3 has been one of the Top 5 scorers at the point guard position in five of the past six seasons. He led all point guards in scoring in just 2009, though, and has since been third, fifth and sixth in 2012, '11 and '10.
He has finished atop his position in assists in just 2008 and '09. Paul has also led all point guards in steals in four of the past five seasons.
Dwight Howard, on the other hand, has led all centers in scoring in three of the past four seasons. D-12 has also led all centers in rebounding in six of the past seven seasons and steals in each of the past two years.
D-12 has also finished in the Top 3 in blocked shots in each of the past four seasons, having led the league in 2009 and '10.
What this signals is a grand disparity between Howard and the other players at the center position. It also shows how close the battle is between Paul and the other point guards in the league.
After Howard, one could make a case for Andrew Bynum, but the production and consistency just aren't there. With Paul, however, the likes of Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose are often brought into the conversation.
Both players have dominated their position in indescribable ways. It is Dwight Howard, however, that has separated himself from the rest of the pack.
CP3 is the best at a crowded position. D-12 just so happens to be an elite amongst today's greats.