Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade, Which Guard Would You Rather Have?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJuly 30, 2010

MIAMI - DECEMBER 25:  Guard Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat and guard Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers look up for a rebound on December 25, 2006 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  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 Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat are not only considered the top two shooting guards in the NBA, but they also claim the title of two of the game's greatest players.

Bryant and Wade have different styles and approaches to their game, but their roles on their respective franchises are as similar as the career numbers each have managed to accumulate.

Bryant, who will be entering his 15th season, has averaged 25.3 points per game, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists throughout the course of his career, while shooting 45 percent from the field.

Wade, who will be entering his eighth season, has averaged 25.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 6.6 assists, while shooting 48 percent from the field as the leading man for his Heat franchise.

Wade's star has taken a backseat to Bryant's in recent years, mainly due to the inferior supporting cast that surrounded him, but that should all change this year with the arrival of LeBron James and Chris Bosh as teammates.

James' presence should allow Wade to emphasize the stronger points to his game, which are attacking the rim with aggression, and having the strength to finish once he gets in the lane.

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The only player in the NBA who penetrates the lane more frequently is James, and the combination of the two players should cause opposing defenses nightmares.

Bryant was once known for his first step which was indefensible, but during the latter stages of his career, Bryant has evolved his game in much the same way Michael Jordan did with the Chicago Bulls.

Bryant's mid range jumper has become as much a signature part of his game as his athletic forays to the rim used to be, and his numerous pump fakes and spins have made his shot almost impossible to defend.

Most observers, if given a choice between Bryant and Wade, would probably choose Wade because of his age, but even while approaching 32, there are some parts of Bryant's game that remain superior to Wade's.

Wade is a decent on-ball defender, and with the presence of a great help defender like James that part of his game will improve, but Bryant has been among the league's elite on-ball defenders for the last decade.

Last season, Bryant was named to the NBA's all defensive first team for the eighth time in his career, as he used his knowledge and instincts to remain an elite defender once his quickness began to decline.

Wade's assist numbers suggest he is a better distributor than Bryant, and while the subject of what actually makes a teammate better is up for debate, Wade has done more with less.

The Heat have managed to remain a relevant playoff team almost solely because of Wade, and even though Miami has yet to advance past the second round since 2006, it's an amazing achievement to qualify at all.

Because of the talent disparity between the two teams, it would seem unfair to include each player's playoff success, but the fact Bryant was surrounded by better players is something that is beyond his control.

Bryant's five championships far out-distance Wade's one, and both players have captured the Finals' MVP trophy while leading their teams to the NBA's promised land.

The journey is just as important as the destination and Bryant has shown a drive and passion to succeed that is unrivaled in the game today, and may possibly never be seen again.

Wade's will to win has never been a question and his desire can be found in every play in which he sacrifices his body, but Bryant's attitude and approach are legendary.

This attitude has led to Bryant's reputation as a clutch player, and that theory is backed up by his seven game winning shots last season, which rank as the most in the last decade.

There is no player in today's game who relishes the chance to take the last shot as much as Bryant, and few players are as equipped to deal with the consequences of their decision.

Both Wade and Bryant will be expected to lead their teams to the NBA Finals this season, and in the eyes of many, anything less will be a failure. But, each player has the necessary tools to achieve that goal.

The hopes and dreams of each franchise lay at the capable feet of Wade and Bryant, and should fate allow their paths to cross in the NBA Finals, we may be witness to the greatest match-up of shooting guards this generation has ever seen.