Last week, during halftime of Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers, TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith were discussing both the Eastern and Western Finals matchups. They proceeded to discuss the rise of the Denver Nuggets and how they transformed into a better team since the deal for Chauncey Billups. They also attributed a lot of the Nuggets success to the play of Carmelo Anthony.
Both Smith and Barkley commented on how Anthony had stepped up his game, evolved into a better player, and elevated into one of the best scorers in the NBA. They said that Anthony moved up to the ranks of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James when it came to scoring talent. Then Sir Charles said Carmelo Anthony had surpassed Dwyane Wade as the better scorer and better overall player.
While Kenny Smith and the other TNT analysts debated that comment, none of them actually refuted it completely. This comment angered and upset me and fueled me to write an article debating the issue: Who is the better player: Dwyane Wade or Carmelo Anthony?
Kobe Bryant is a better player than Dwyane Wade: Fair statement. LeBron James is a better player than Dwyane Wade: Fair statement. Carmelo Anthony is a better player than Dwyane Wade: Wait just one minute. Since when is that a fair statement?
Carmelo is an outstanding basketball player. He was the No. 3 overall pick back in the 2003 draft. He is an excellent scorer, a great driver, an above-average defender, a good rebounder, and a decent shooter. He has the ability to take over a game with his scoring and has the ability to light up opposing teams with 40-point efforts. He has also made the playoffs every year that he has been in the league. There is no question that Anthony is a top 10 player in the NBA and a highly coveted player by all teams when his contract is up in 2010.
Then there is Dwyane Wade. He is also a phenomenal player. He was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2003 draft. He is a prolific scorer, a stellar defender, a great passer, a great shooter from inside the arc, and a good rebounder. He also has the ability to score at will and take over games with high-octane scoring efforts. In addition, his ability to drive to the rim is like no other. Also, D-Wade has made it to the postseason every year he has been in the league besides the 2007-2008 season. Like Anthony, Wade will also be a highly coveted free agent when his contract is up in 2010.
Looking at the previous two paragraphs, both Anthony and Wade look like similar players with similar strengths. Based on those facts, it might be hard to distinguish the two players and truly say who is the better player. But, if you take a closer look, it is clear that Dwyane Wade is the superior player and that Carmelo Anthony takes a backseat to his draft class counterpart.
Right off the bat, Wade has something that Anthony doesn't: A championship ring. Wade's Miami Heat won the 2006 NBA title with Wade being named the Finals MVP. In just Wade's third year as a pro, he elevated to the top of the basketball world and became the 5th youngest player in NBA history to win the award.
If a championship and Finals MVP award aren't enough to separate the two, let's look at Wade's long list of accomplishments. He is a five-time NBA All-Star, an Olympic gold-medalist, and the 2006 Sportsman of the Year. He is a member of the All-NBA First Team (2009), a two-time All-NBA Second Team member (2005,06), and an All-NBA Third Team member (2007). In addition, he has made the All-NBA defensive team twice (2005, 2009), as well as being a two-time Playstation Skills Champion, which he won back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.
On top of all those accolades, he added a lot to his resume in 2009. He was the NBA scoring champion this year with 30.2 points per game. He also became the Miami Heat's all-time leading scorer, surpassing franchise legend Alonzo Mourning. He was a two-time Eastern Conference Player of the Month, a three-time Eastern Conference Player of the Week, and finished third in the voting for both the Most Valuable Player Award and the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
While you might be thinking that these accomplishments are all offense-oriented, you must know that Wade became the first player in NBA history that is 6'4" or shorter to block 100 shots in a season. Need more defensive stats? Wade became the only player in the league to amass at least 100 blocks and 100 steals in a season.
And, as if he didn't accomplish enough in the 2009 campaign, he capped it off by becoming the only player in league history to post at least 2,000 points, 500 assists, 150 steals, and 100 blocks during a single season. Simply put, Dwyane Wade was "Amazing" this year.
Since I listed all of Wade's magnificent accomplishments, it is only fair to provide a counter-argument for Anthony.
Anthony is a an Olympic gold-medalist, the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year (2006), a two-time NBA All-Star, a three-time member of the All-NBA third team, and rookie challenge MVP. In addition, he has a numerous amount of collegiate awards, including winning an NCAA championship with Syracuse in his freshman year.
While Anthony has had plenty of success in the regular season and as a scorer overall, he hasn't made much noise in the playoffs. This year was the first time in his six-year career that he even made it past the first round of the playoffs. In Wade's six-year career, he has made it to the postseason five times and advanced past the first round three of those times.
If those awards and merits aren't enough to prove that Wade is the better overall player and scorer, let's look at simple statistics. D-Wade has career averages of 25.2 PPG, 6.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game. Anthony has career averages of 24.2 PPG, 6.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game. Wade is a career 48 percent shooter from the field, while Anthony is a 46 percent shooter. So, other than rebounds, Wade beats out Anthony in every statistical category and let's not forget-Carmelo is four inches taller than Wade.
But, the main thing that irked me from Barkley's pompous statement was the fact that he called Anthony the better scorer. How has Anthony surpassed Wade as the better scorer when Wade was this year's scoring champion and has better career scoring numbers than the Nuggets star?
And if you want to see even more proof that Wade is the better scorer, let this stat swirl around in your head. Wade had 13 games this year in which he scored 40 points or more, including three 50-point efforts. Carmelo had three 40-point games this year, including the postseason.
Simply put, Wade is the better overall player and certainly the better scorer. Wade has a unique ability to drive to the rim, contort his body in mid air, take contact, and finish with emphasis. He can shoot from almost anywhere on the floor and even developed a three-point shot this year, making 88 three-pointers this year, which annihilates his previous career-high of 22. He is also one of the best dunkers in the league, having the talent to dunk over opponents twice his size. There is a reason Shaq dubbed D-Wade the name "Flash," and I think his game speaks for itself.
This is not to say Carmelo isn't a magnificent scorer, because he certainly is. Anthony has a great knack for getting to the rim, taking contact, and finishing. He is a great dunker and uses his size to take it the whole and space the floor. He can shoot from most spots on the floor and will hit clutch shots from beyond the arc when his number is called.
But overall, Dwyane Wade is the better basketball player than Carmelo Anthony. His statistics, numerous accolades, and MVP Finals award prove that. He has simply accomplished more in his career and has been a better player than his 2003 draft class buddy. While Anthony is a top 10 player in the NBA, Wade is a top five player that has truly embodied the word "Amazing," and after this year's unreal performance, he has truly proven that he is the better player.