Is the Torch Being Passed From Kobe Bryant To Dwyane Wade?

Kevin LindseyAnalyst IJuly 18, 2010

BOSTON - APRIL 27:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat does his pullups before opening tipoff against the Boston Celtics during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs at the TD Garden on April 27, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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If you were a new general manager in the NBA and this year you could have your choice of any shooting guard currently in the league, which player would you choose, Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade?

Well, the first thing you would do is thank your lucky stars. Why, because unlike the other choices you would be entrusted to make as a general manager you really can’t get this choice wrong.

No matter which player you decided to go with, Bryant or Wade, you are getting a future Hall-of-Fame player.

History is on the side of Bryant.

Bryant has been recognized in the league as the more complete player than Wade. Kobe has been named the league’s Most Valuable Player of the Year while Wade has never been so honored.

While both players are prolific scorers, Kobe has posted better numbers over a single season.

Bryant averaged 35.4 points a game during his 2005-2006 NBA Season and then came back the next year to average 31.6 points a game.

Two years ago, Wade broke through the 30 point barrier when he averaged 30.2 points a game. While, Wade follow up this year with another 30 point a game effort he did finish fifth in scoring in the league.

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Kobe has held the Larry O’Brien trophy on five different occasions; Wade has only been fortunate enough to have his hands on the championship trophy once.

Kobe has two NBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards while Wade has only one NBA Finals MVP award on his mantel.

Of course, while Bryant may have history on his side; the future just might belong to Wade.  

Bryant is in no hurry to step out of the spotlight as he prepares his Lakers to three-peat as NBA Champions.  Bryant, this past year, earned his fifth straight NBA First Team selection scoring 27 points, 5.4 assists and 5.0 rebounds a game. 

As good as Bryant was last year, Wade was just as good if not better.

Wade, this past year, earned his second straight NBA First Team selection scoring 26.5 points, 6.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals a game.  Wade was one of only two players to rank in the top 10 in points, assists, rebounds and steals in the league.

The only other player to rank in the top 10 in points, assists, rebounds, and steals in the league was the eventual NBA MVP--LeBron James.

The arrival of additional help in South Beach bodes well for Wade posting even better numbers this upcoming season.  Wade is going to be playing on arguably the most talented team that he has ever played on in Miami as he pairs up with LeBron James and Chris Bosh this year.   

Bryant may also be at the tipping point in his career despite being only 31 years old.    While Bryant is only 31 years of age, the question of how many more basketball miles Bryant has in the tank is a legitimate. 

Kobe has played in more than 100 NBA games in seven of the thirteen seasons he has been in the league.  Bryant has also averaged 36 minutes of playing time a game for the past 11 seasons.

While it is a fair comment to say that Kobe is not quite as explosive as he once was as a player, Bryant is not ready for a rocking chair by any stretch of the imagination.

Wade has acknowledged as much when he said, "[W]e’re not overconfident.  The Lakers are the champions and we know the Lakers are very good. That's the team that everyone's shooting for and they should be; not the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers."

The decision between Bryant and Wade is a decision that no one can get wrong because both players at the end of the careers will end up in the Hall of Fame.

However, between Kobe and Wade at this point in their respective careers, I would choose Wade.

Wade is younger than Kobe and has less wear and tear on his body. Wade likely has at least five years of elite level play in his body whereas the same can’t be said for Kobe.

At this point in their respective careers, Wade is putting up individual statistics that are better than Kobe.

Most importantly, Wade is not acting like it is a foregone conclusion that his Heat will win the next NBA championship.  Wade is saying the right thing in public and that is giving the current NBA Champions their due.

Wade is also doing the right thing outside of the spotlight.

Wade is the third highest paid player on the Heat behind James and Bosh; a good way to diffuse possible tension among the new big three.

Wade also left money on the table so that Udonis Haslem could resign with the team; a nice touch by the Captain showing appreciation for the players who do the dirty work.

Dwayne has even weighed in to show his support for new teammate James on the issue of whether he quit on his team and his former city, Cleveland.  

The torch is currently firmly in the hands of Kobe Bryant. He is the champion and current standard bearer.

However, as time marches on, the torch must be passed on.

Which player is playing at an elite level on the offensive and defensive end? Which player appears ready to take on the role of leadership for their team?  Which player appears to be poised to become the face of the league?

The player who appears to be ready to become the new standard bearer is Dwayne Wade.