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LeBron James or Dwyane Wade: Which Miami Heat Star Would You Rather Draft?

Adam DavisCorrespondent IOctober 27, 2011

LeBron James or Dwyane Wade: Which Miami Heat Star Would You Rather Draft?

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    Let's step into the Delorean and travel back to 2003, a simpler time when there was only speculation about LeBron James and Dwyane Wade's greatness and no one hated the Miami Heat all that much. 

    Now, let's imagine that the Cleveland Cavaliers ownership has the top pick and they know everything we now know about these two stars—the good and the bad. 

    Considering Darko Milicic, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh don't come close to these two talent-wise, I think it's safe to assume the top pick would come down to either King James or D-Wade. 

    Wow, that's a tough call. 

    Both are extremely talented but each have their shortcomings. Who would go first overall? 

    Let's break it down and see. 

First Test: Offensive Ability

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    While Wade has the seemingly superhuman ability to slash through defenders and score ridiculous shots, LeBron is blessed with the skill to simply score whenever he wants to. 

    Last season, LeBron had a better field-goal, three-point and free-throw percentage than Wade did—even if by minuscule percentages. 

    If the differences between the two in those stats are too small for you then let's bring out the big guns: win shares per 48 minutes.

    Basketball-reference.com provides a stat that is determined by an estimation of the number of wins a team will rack up based on the contributions of a player per 48 minutes (meaning a game). The league average is around 0.100.

    LeBron averaged 0.244 win shares per 48 minutes—leading the league—while Wade only averaged 0.216. LeBron has led the league in this category for the last three years and that doesn't seem to change any time soon. 

    Win Goes to LeBron

Second Test: Likeability

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    There is no doubt in my mind that Wade is the favorite here. He really hasn't done anything to upset Miami fans and even brought them a championship in 2006. 

    Okay, there's really not much else to say—everyone loves Wade more than LeBron, even though I still believe in King James and am a huge fan of his. 

    Win Goes to Wade

Third Test: Longevity

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    One of the main reasons why everyone in Miami (as well as many other fans around the league) is so obsessed with Wade is because he gives 110 percent every game and lays his body on the line on each play if it means getting to the hoop and possibly the foul line.

    The problem with this is the abuse and punishment that Wade's body has taken over the years and the injuries he has had to deal with.

    LeBron is a player that has barely been injured in his career, playing at least 75 games in each of his eight seasons. Wade on the other hand hasn't broken 70 games three times in those same eight years. 

    James is the obvious hindsight choice in the longevity category because of his athletic ability that allows him to play at an intense level throughout a prolonged career.

    Win Goes to LeBron

Fourth Test: Defensive Ability

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    Say what you will about him, but it's tough to deny LeBron's defensive skills.

    He has been named to the NBA's All-Defensive First Team three years in a row. Wade too has been rewarded for his defense but only on the All-Defensive Second Team. 

    LeBron is a shutdown defender that can cover the best players in the league—an invaluable skill that is sometimes less important in the face of huge offensive numbers or big-time plays. 

    Win Goes to LeBron

Fifth Test: Experience

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    Back in 2003 all the teams had to work with was a solid college career for Wade and a huge amount of hype and speculation surrounding LeBron. Seems a bit one-sided, doesn't it?

    In 2002-03, Wade led Marquette to the NCAA Final Four, the school's first appearance there in nearly 30 years. 

    Plenty of advantages come to players who have solid college careers and victories under their belts—see Carmelo Anthony—and a player's ability to lead his school into the Final Four is something that will continue to benefit him and his teammates once he goes pro. 

    I like experience as a plus for a player and think his college time helped Wade immensely in his career with the Heat.

    Win Goes to Wade

Sixth Test: Leadership and Loyalty

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    When Wade was drafted by Miami in 2003 he became their hope and the sole fulcrum of any future successes. He has remained loyal to his team and city even in the wake of stints with big-name stars like Shaq and Alonzo Mourning. 

    Wade brought LeBron and Bosh to South Beach and even with all of them now playing together, he is the undisputed leader of the Heat team. 

    Attributes such as sustained leadership (especially over a guy with a giant-sized ego like Shaq) and loyalty to your city (in stark contrast to teammate LeBron James) go a long way to creating an incredible player. 

    Win Goes to Wade

Seventh Test: Player Efficiency Rating

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    Basketball-reference.com brings us another amazing stat to calculate a player's performance for his team: player efficiency rating.

    This is a player's per-minute production towards his team winning with the league average being 15. LeBron's PER last season: 27.3. Wade's: 25.6.

    LeBron has led this category in the entire NBA for the last four years and his lowest total, 18.3 in his rookie year, is still more than three points higher than the league average. 

    If you want to bring playoffs into the argument, LeBron's career playoff PER is 1.9 points higher than Wade's.

    Win Goes to LeBron

Eighth Test: Clutch

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    If we were to break down the 2006 NBA Finals into series-defining moments, we would undoubtedly talk about the final moments of Game 5. 

    The series was tied 2-2, with game being played in Miami. Were the Heat to lose that game they would head to Dallas down 3-2 in the series with no more home games. To make matters more intense, the game headed into overtime.

    What won it for Miami was Wade's free throws in the waning seconds of OT that sealed a one-point victory, the series lead and the momentum to head to Dallas and win in Game 6.

    If that's not clutch, I don't know what is.

    On the other hand, LeBron's performance in this past season's playoffs left much to be desired in the clutch column and led us to wonder where the guy who hit a game-winning shot with 0.6 seconds left had disappeared to. 

    Win Goes to Wade

Final Test: Winning Ability

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    This one really is a tough call, and what it truly all comes down to.

    Okay, Wade won the chip in '06. We get it, let's get that out of the way. 

    Let's talk cold, hard facts about which player helps his team win more. Let's not forget the kind of help that Wade had on his team back in 2006. 

    Looking at this past season, when they played on the same team and had each other to thank/blame for the results of any given game, LeBron still beat out Wade for total win shares for a player. Win shares are the estimated number of wins as contributed by a certain player, and not only did LeBron lead the Heat but he also topped the entire league. 

    James beat out Wade in points, rebounds, assists, minutes and steals. He played better than Wade this past year and has outplayed him for the better part of their respective careers. 

    Win Goes to LeBron

And the Winner Is...

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    While his antics in Cleveland and his disappearance in Dallas may leave a sour taste in your mouth, LeBron is undeniably the best player in basketball, let alone on the Heat. 

    His consistent career numbers back him up, and he continues to bring his explosive play to the league every year. 

    Sure James needs help in the very specific category of fourth quarters of close playoff games, but once he gets that confidence in him he will be unstoppable. 

    Even if Shaq was the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Wade's Magic Johnson  in 2006, Wade has now become the Scottie Pippen to LeBron's Michael Jordan in the Big Three era in Miami. 

    Whether you like the outcome of this or not as a Heat fan, it still hopefully spells multiple championships for the team and a standard of excellent play overall in South Beach. Sounds pretty good to me. 

    Long live King James. 

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