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Is Dwyane Wade the Best in the NBA?

I just finished reading the latest GQ with Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade on the cover (my wife is a big fan of the photo; me, not so much), the Sports Illustrated article with Wade on the cover with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, and another article on how Wade has reached superstar status. With so many people gawking over Wade, giving him so much praise and adulation, it made me wonder if Wade really should be given consideration as the game's best player.
Wade is that rare star who is both efficient and entertaining and his performance in the NBA Finals, especially in Game 5, was truly incredible. He has made the Heat his team, Shaquille O'Neal his sidekick and there are so many reasons to root for Wade, beside his talents. He's humble. He's has had an incredible rags-to-riches rise to superstardom. And, he comes off as such a golly-shucks nice guy. The opposite personality of, say, Kobe Bryant.
Wade probably should've received more love in regular season MVP consideration last season because his statistics were incredible and the Heat doesn't come close to winning 52 games - two more than James - without him. But while he has the ring and the Finals MVP, would I take him over James or Bryant right now? Probably not.
I remember getting into my first Wade vs. James argument shortly after Wade scored 42 points against the Wizards to complete a four-game sweep two years ago. I've said that I'm firmly in the James camp because he's almost three years younger and he does things on the floor that are truly mind-boggling and he has never had a teammate remotely as good as Shaq. But now that Shaq is no longer The Big Diesel, but rather the Big Backpack (he's riding on Wade's shoulders), Wade vs. James is truly a great argument. Not for the future, because the future is now.
That being said, I still think Bryant is the most talented player in the league right now and I agree with most general managers that he is the best shooting guard in the game. He still has three championship rings and a scoring title to his credit. I know he didn't win a playoff series last season, but he does play in the Western Conference and he carried a rather inferior bunch further than most expected.
But with Bryant expected to miss some time recovering from his knee injury, Wade has his best chance to possibly bumb Bryant for first team All-NBA honors at shooting guard. The Heat should get more wins that the Lakers, and he will definitely get more love with the MVP if improves on his numbers from last season: 27.2 points, 6.7 assists and 5.8 rebounds.
I honestly believe that we were robbed of what would've been an interesting summer battle for hoops supremacy when Bryant couldn't join the U.S. Men's National Team because of knee surgery. Wade and James are competitors but also good friends, so they were able to put aside their egos for each other; they even traded numbers from the Olympic team (Wade moved from No. 6 to No. 9; James from No. 9 to No. 6). But do you think Wade and James would've deferred to Kobe? Think Kobe would've deferred to them? Now that Wade is considering taking Pat Riley's advice and possibly sitting out the FIBA Americas qualifying tournament, we may have to wait until the Olympic training camp - when Kobe is approaching 30 - to see the three on the same team.
Who would you rather have?

By Michael Lee  |  October 26, 2006; 1:52 PM ET
 
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Comments

All three. ;)

But if I'm a GM starting from scratch it's Lebron, Wade, and then Kobe in that order.

If Wade and Shaq stay healthy the year prior they may have won a title a year sooner.

I can't say that I like him, but Lebron is a man among boys. He very well could be MVP this year.

Kobe is awesome also, but remember he did have Shaq in his prime.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | October 26, 2006 2:06 PM | Report abuse

LeBron. Not close.

Posted by: The Governor | October 26, 2006 3:08 PM | Report abuse

If I had to win a title next year it would be Kobe, Lebron, (then Shaq) then Wade.

Lebron is clearly the best individual player and Wade is the worst of the three. It is hard to compare players with great supporting casts to players with no supporting casts but swapping Wade for Kobe makes Miami a better team in my opinion. Shaq still dominates the post and people really underestimate his impact now that his skills have diminished. Wade disappeared for whole stretches last season and is an inconsistent shooter. Granted, he is an All Star and a great closer, but so is Kobe (and a lot of other players if given the opportunity).

As strange as this sounds, Lebron may be too good to ever be on a great team.

Posted by: Drew | October 26, 2006 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Can we stop labeling greatness by winning championships! Jordan was great because he was unstoppable due to his skills. His game continually evolved as well. Magic and Bird won, but they had skills that made others better. Oscar robertson, kareem, etc. skills, not championships. Kobe is a b!tch! How soon we forget. I think he nor Shaq are great, though a head to head skill test would go to Kobe. Wade and LeBron are good talented players right now. nothing more and nothing less. the way Wade turned it on in the finals, he has the potential for greatness. LeBrons growth shows he has the same potential. But championships should not define greatness. Look how many would be excluded. Look at John Salley, he has at least 3 rings.

Posted by: Robgreg | October 26, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

"But now that Shaq is no longer The Big Diesel, but rather the Big Backpack (he's riding on Wade's shoulders)"

Great line!

I'd go with LeBron, especially if he had someone like Shaq (as genuine Shaq) for a couple years.

Posted by: JoeMoc | October 26, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

It's gotta be Kobe. His three rings, his obvious talent, his scoring prowess, but most importantly, his defense. He can actually defend another team's top player the same way Jordan could. Kobe is the best player in the NBA right now, followed by Wade, then LeBron. Neither of those two are good defenders. After LeBron, it's a toss up, however. I know for a fact, though, that 'Melo doesn't fall directly behind LeBron in that lineage. You taking notes, Sports Illustrated?

Posted by: Colin | October 26, 2006 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Had to get in on this. I'm taking LeBron but I'd have to think about it. Hard. It's just hard to overlook a kid who is basically built like an NFL tight end but moves like a point guard.

Posted by: Ivan | October 26, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Simple enough question, Answer is NO! U Gotta Love D. Wade but pure BB discussion Colin was right on. By far Mr.K Bryant is the BEST in the NBA (a no brainer). You have 2 play both ends of the court.Secondly, the other player ,that without question does this every night is Mr. A Iverson, these two players give it up like no others.Add Mr. K Garnett to the mix.Let's go a little further, for clarification, supposedly they (NBA teams) play for Championships.Then we are speaking of MVP'S now make no mistake these names are not arguable, Bill Russell ,Magic Johnson,Michael Jordan of ALL-TIME you can argue the rest. C-YA !!

Posted by: WARREN | October 26, 2006 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone really believe the Lebron is only 21? Not me.

Posted by: Lisa | October 26, 2006 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Kobe is the best right now, but if I'm assembling a team, I'm taking Lebron. As others have said, Kobe plays both ends of the court (well, when he wants to). Beyond that, though, he is unstoppable, he is fearless at the end of games, and he has the Jordan-esque talent of self-motivation to turn small slights into his own personal edge. Kobe is mean on the court, and he turns his chip into dominance.

So: why would I take Lebron over him? Simple. Lebron is younger (a lot younger), Lebron is physically stronger (2-guard skills in a 4 body) Lebron is developing that same nasty chip (remember him telling Gilbert he was gonna mis those free throws?), Lebron is starting to show signs of late game clutchness and the desire to have the ball in his hands, and, most importantly, Lebron wants to, and does, make his teammates better. Kobe, for all his individual skills, does not think team; Lebron does.

Wade? I love him - he's an amazing, amazing player. But he's got the cast around him to take the load off, and as smooth as he is (and he is smooth), Wade doesn't strike me as a true evolution in basketball prowess the way Lebron does. Wade understands the game and has fantastic skills, but Lebron puts the package together in a way that we haven't seen before. When Lebron gets his Pippen, look out.

Posted by: Matt B. | October 26, 2006 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I am in the minority but I would take D. Wade. You can say that he has the supporting cast and he disappears but after watching his performance in the Finals, I don't understand why it would be even close. Kobe doesn't have three rings without Shaq. But since we saw with our own eyes, Shaq disappeared in the Finals and D. Wade stepped up. D. Wade has never missed the playoffs in his three years in the NBA. Granted two of those years he had Shaq but his rookie year he didn't and Lebron's team was better that year but he couldn't get them there. D. Wade is a force and if he ever fully develops that jumper than he will be the most unstoppable force in the NBA. Last but not least neither Kobe or Lebron can defend. If you look at the stats Kobe and D. Wade and what they do to each other, Kobe doesn't shut the man down in fact it is just the opposite. He goes off. So defense is a wash. Give D. Wade some love.

Posted by: Lee. T | October 27, 2006 8:44 AM | Report abuse

right now, KOBE! he's the best scorer in the nba, one of the best defenders in the NBA....put it all together, and KOBE is the closest to MJ you can get. Add last postseason's "pass-first, shoot-second" mentality, and it only increases his value. If the Lakers can add one more role player, and develop the ones they have, KOBE might not be finished adding to his jewelry collection.

Posted by: k-man | October 27, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

i take a lotta heat for supporting kobe from my friends...they claim that kobe wouldnt have any rings if it wasn't for SHAQ. I agree with that premise, but here's one for you haters...Shaq wouldn't have those 3 rings if it weren't for KOBE. think about that one...

Posted by: k-man | October 27, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I'll take Gil.

Posted by: D D. | October 27, 2006 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Wade just seems like a tougher player mentally and physically. LeBron is bigger. He's much more imposing, but I don't see the same toughness in him that I see in Wade. And as it's been stated, Wade carried his team to a Title. LeBron carried his team to a second-round exit. And LeBron had as much help as Wade, with Hughes, Flip Murray, Z, Donyell, Gooden and veteran Eric Snow in tow. Wade had a worn down Shaq, old-timers 'Zo and Payton, Posey, J-Will and Haslem. Which supporting cast would you prefer?

Posted by: Colin | October 27, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

1) Dwayne Wade is super tight. He might average 44 a game vs the Wizards for his career when its over. That said, the dude is so marketable, and the league such a farse at times as it pertains to favoring stars that he gets an unparalleled amount of special treatment. The dude straps on the flack jacket and throws himself around and gets foul calls whenever they need a bucket. No player to ever play the game should have shot as many FTs as he got in those NBA finals. Complete joke. Again, amazing player, great dude, super tough, but he's getting the MJ 9 year treatment without having to go through the 'jordan rules' (Pistons etc.)

2) Lebron James travels 40% of the times he touches the ball and it will not be called. He walked on the game winner against the Wizards in the playoffs...I still cannot talk about it. He also flat out refuses to guard anyone. Most gifted player I have ever seen play period.

3) Kobe Bryant: his defensive prowess is vastly overrated. He takes plays off and only guards when he wants to. He is a poor man's MJ because he lacks the crucial element of making teammates better. Guys went to war for MJ; not so with Kobe. Between the lines, he tries to do the same things, but once the game ends, he is a selfish little man that is too good to go out with his teammates. We all know that wasn't a problem with MJ (Atlantic City anyone?)

So, if I had to take one to start a squadron, I'd take Lebron and spend every day explaining to him that he has to play defense. If he didn't get it, I'd fire myself and hire a new defensive coach every month until he got it. Then, you can annoint that dude.

Last thought, this Songalia shabingus has got me all sorts of twisted up...really annoying!

Posted by: Bernard King | October 27, 2006 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I am still taking Gil! Especially after that shot he made at the finals last year against Cleveland. Yea, he missed the free throws but I have not seen another player that takes a shot like that and consistently hit during pressure moments.

Posted by: wizfan4life | October 30, 2006 9:08 AM | Report abuse

YES

Posted by: DOROTHY | November 2, 2006 9:04 PM | Report abuse

LET'S BE REAL FOLKS PPUT IT THIS WAY THE BEST TOWN IN THE EARTH L.A THE PLAYER OF THE WORLD KOBE NO DOUBT!EITHER YOU LOVE KOBE OR HATE HIM EVERYBODY WANTS TO GO ONE ON ONE OVER HIM ARE YOU CRAZY.L.A ALWAYS HAS HAD THE BEST AND KOBES THE BEST.
SHAQ HAD HE'S YEARS NOT NO MORE WADE IS JUST A GOOD PLAYER LEBRON AMAZING BUT KOBE EXTRAORDINARY?
1ST.KOBE
2ND.MJ
3RD.MAGIC

50.ALLEN
51.LEBRON
52.DWADE THAT'S MHOW IT WORKS

Posted by: L.A IS IN THE BUILDING | November 9, 2006 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Gilbert vs James... Anyone see the game last night?? Gilber went for 45 against Bron... and not to mention he did twist his ankles... I thought that I was the only one who noticed James traveling on the game winner against Washington... If you all will pay attention, you will notice that they will only replay that play from the angles where you can't see his feet.

With that being said... This year I am starting to like the way that Kobe is playing... but the only difference is he is playing the style of basketball that Wade is playing... Bryant is getting up in his page and will most likely not win a championship again... Everyone keeps sayin that he does not have a great supporting cast... those guys have excellent big men.. Larry Hughes is one of the best two guards in the league... and Damon Jones has been clutch through out his career...

I am tired of hearing the Shaq argument when it comes to Wade... Every team that has won a championship has had a 1-2 punch... even Kobe... only Kobe had Shaq when he was in his prime. For 3 championships in which Shaq was the MVP of all of them... The year Kobe tried to take over they lost to Detroit.... Dwade would have been the Eastern Finals MVP against Detroit if it hadn't been for injuries... he has been carrying that team... and the players around him are old... but they are still good players.. Most GM's would probably take Damon Jones over GP at this stage in his NBA career.. Shaq is getting old, Walker isn't consistent... Haslem has been excellent, and you have to remember Wade is the leader of this team now, even with Shaq on there... Kobe wanted to be, but never has been a great leader.. but this year I am seeing him improve...

Posted by: Ben Davis | November 19, 2006 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Since no one else is saying it... I am going to... Wade is the Best Player Ever... and his name will be around for sometime... not to mention all of his endorsements.. Pretty soon everyone is going to be calling the newcomers to the NBA, the next Dwyane Wade... D-WADE... has blocked and or dunked on ever big man in the league... Duncan, KG, Stoudemire, Jermain O'neal, and Nene just to name a few... Why is Lebron only listed as 6'8 when he is taller than everyone on the team??

Posted by: Ben Davis | November 19, 2006 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Gil averages such a low FG% its hard to like him. I'm taking D.Wade over all of them. Look at the efficiency he shoots with. Last year he had almost 50$ (49.xx) FG percentage. Also, he's the most well-rounded player of the bunch. He gets the assists and rebounds that Kobe doesn't get, and he plays tough D (unlike LeBron). The importance of defense can't be emphasized enough. Jordan's scoring abilities alone are enough to set him apart from any other player, but what really put him out of reach was the incredible defense he played. Wade is the most complete and the best player in the NBA. His jumper is already improving and this year his 3pt shooting percentage has nearly tripled. He has it all and it's time he gets the props he deserves. LeBron had more hype than Wade when he was still in High School. Not taking anything away from LeBron, but he is the most hyped player ever and that hype lingers for a while, even when other people preform at the same level or at a higher level.

One last thing is Wade's hustle. Personally, I have never seen an athelete in any aport show so much determination and desire to win more than him. He's absolutely everywhere on the court, whether it's jumping in between defenders to get an offensive rebound or getting a key steal. He does the little things so well, and that's only something that can be appreciated by watching him consistently.

Oh, and enough talk about him "having Shaq" as an excuse for why he's good. He hasn't had Shaq for the last 3 games and he's averaged 33.7 points, 13.3 assists, and 6 rebounds per game, so I think we can stop saying that he can't do it on his own.

Posted by: Wade County | November 29, 2006 5:54 AM | Report abuse

Gil averages such a low FG% its hard to like him. I'm taking D.Wade over all of them. Look at the efficiency he shoots with. Last year he had almost 50$ (49.xx) FG percentage. Also, he's the most well-rounded player of the bunch. He gets the assists and rebounds that Kobe doesn't get, and he plays tough D (unlike LeBron). The importance of defense can't be emphasized enough. Jordan's scoring abilities alone are enough to set him apart from any other player, but what really put him out of reach was the incredible defense he played. Wade is the most complete and the best player in the NBA. His jumper is already improving and this year his 3pt shooting percentage has nearly tripled. He has it all and it's time he gets the props he deserves. LeBron had more hype than Wade when he was still in High School. Not taking anything away from LeBron, but he is the most hyped player ever and that hype lingers for a while, even when other people preform at the same level or at a higher level.

One last thing is Wade's hustle. Personally, I have never seen an athelete in any aport show so much determination and desire to win more than him. He's absolutely everywhere on the court, whether it's jumping in between defenders to get an offensive rebound or getting a key steal. He does the little things so well, and that's only something that can be appreciated by watching him consistently.

Oh, and enough talk about him "having Shaq" as an excuse for why he's good. He hasn't had Shaq for the last 3 games and he's averaged 33.7 points, 13.3 assists, and 6 rebounds per game, so I think we can stop saying that he can't do it on his own.

Posted by: Wade County | November 29, 2006 5:56 AM | Report abuse

This season kobe has really become a better team player, he gets assists, steals, and blocks. Now Kobe takes shots whenever he is open, has a good look, defended by a less skilled player, or whenever the other Lakers need some motivation. I mean come on, it KOBE. Last night the game vs. the Utah Jazz was a BLOW OUT. Without the skills of KB the Lakers wouldnt have beat the Jazz ( number one team statistically in the NBA) by 30 points, yes, 30 points. Also Kobe was guarded by the infamous AK-47, Andre. NOTHING can stop Kobe, and NOTHING will. I wouldnt be suprised if the Lakers made it to the finals. Lebron is also very skilled but like everyoone else said, he lacks defense. Dwayne Wade, in the past couple of games hes proven that he does not have the potential to lift the Heat for some wins without Shaq unlike Kobe in the 05-06 season where he led the Lakers to the Playoffs with a incredible 36pt avg. But now the Lakers are even better than ever, with the improvement of Odom, Walton, Kwame and Andrew Bynum, and even Ronny Turiaf (one of my favorite players). Luke, so far the best 3pt shooter, what else is there to say? Cant forget the recent additions of Evans and the rookie Farmar. Lakers seem to have a bright season ahead of them.

Posted by: Number 24 | December 2, 2006 12:35 AM | Report abuse

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