Kobe Bryant vs. Dwyane Wade: Who Is the Best Shooting Guard in the League?
A closer look at the voting reveals that it really wasn't even that close; Bryant finished with the second-most first-team votes for a guard with 98 (trailing only Derrick Rose's 118), while Wade finished third overall among guards with a distant 24 first-team votes.
Bryant has now been selected to the All-NBA first team in nine of the past 10 seasons, and his nine first-team selections trail only Karl Malone (11), Bob Cousy (10), Bob Pettit (10), Jerry West (10), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (10) and Michael Jordan (10).
Meanwhile, Wade has been selected to the first team just twice, in 2009 and 2010, yet many still seemed to question Bryant's first-team selection over Wade this past season.
A lot of it likely has to do with the fact that fans watched Wade play 21 games in the playoffs, including six games in the NBA Finals, while Bryant only played nine games—a result of the Lakers being swept by the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks in the second round. These same fans tend to forget the voting process actually takes place after the conclusion of the regular season and does not factor in playoff performance.
So let's figure this out based on five categories to settle this debate once and for all: Who is the best shooting guard in the league, Kobe or Wade?
First Category: Overall Shooting
Three-Pointers 34%, Field Goals 45%, Free Throws 84%
Three-Pointers 29%, Field Goals 49%, Free Throws 77%
It's clear that Kobe Bryant is the better outside shooter, but Wade has a higher field-goal percentage as a result of shooting fewer three-pointers and more shots from inside the lane. The free-throw percentage pretty much settles it, but I'll show the formula I'm using to determine "total shooting score."
34*3 = 102 + 45*2 = 90 + 84*1 = 84...Total = 276/3 = 92 total shooting score
29*3 = 87 + 49*2 = 98 + 77*1 = 77...Total = 262/3 = 87.33 total shooting score
I'm not sure if anyone has ever actually used this formula for "total shooting score," but I should probably slap a patent on it just in case no one has ever claimed this formula as their own.
Second Category: Rebounding
Kobe Bryant averages 1.2 offensive rebounds to go along with 4.1 defensive rebounds for a career average of 5.3 rebounds per game.
Dwyane Wade averages 1.3 offensive rebounds per game to go along with 3.8 defensive rebounds for a career average of 5.1 rebounds per game.
Bryant averaged a career-high 6.9 rebounds in 2003 and averaged 5.1 rebounds per game in 2011.
Wade averaged a career-high 6.4 rebounds per game last season.
Finally, the total rebounding percentage (an estimate of the percentage of available rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor) edge goes to Bryant, 8.2 percent to 8.0 percent.
Third Category: Passing
Kobe Bryant has averaged 4.7 assists per game to go along with 2.9 turnovers for an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.62:1. His career high in assists came in 2005, when he averaged 6.0 assists, and he averaged 4.7 assists per game in 2011.
Dwyane Wade has averaged 6.3 assists per game to go along with 3.6 turnovers for an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.75:1. His career high in assists is 7.5 (in 2007 and 2009), and he averaged 4.6 assists per game in 2011.
Finally, the career assist percentage (an estimate of the percentage of teammates' field goals a player assisted while he was on the floor) edge goes to Wade by a score of 33.3 to 23.9.
Fourth Category: Defense
This one is a tough call because on one hand, you've got Kobe Bryant with nine All-Defensive first-team appearances and Dwyane Wade with zero on the other.
But let's be honest—the voting for the All-Defensive team is more of a popularity contest than anything else.
I'm choosing to focus on the numbers, and Wade has averaged 1.8 steals and one block per game for his career, while Bryant has averaged 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks for his.
Finally, Bryant barely edges out Wade in defensive rating (an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions) 105-104.
However, when it's all said and done, the huge gap in career steals and blocks sealed the deal for me.
The Deciding Fifth and Final Category: Intangibles
It's come to this. It's 2-2, with "intangibles" left to settle the score.
These are two of the best players in the world, but when it's all said and done, intangibles are precisely what separate Kobe Bryant from the rest of the pack.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Kobe Bryant? Hunger. Will. Drive. Desire. Determination. Killer instinct. Clutch. A will to win at all costs. A never-say-die attitude. An ultimate competitor. Refusing to fail. Utmost confidence.
I'll be honest—when I think of Dwyane Wade, I'm thinking about one of the top five players in the world, but all of the traits I listed above don't immediately come to mind.
In the end, Kobe Bryant is one of the top five players of all time, and Dwyane Wade is one of the top five players today. Until Kobe takes a significant step back, he's still the best shooting guard in the league today.
Overall Winner by a Score of 3-2: Kobe Bryant