2003 was a memorable year that impacted people around the world. And not because Saddam Hussein was captured! In 2003, some of the greatest NBA stars to ever step on the court would be drafted. Among Kyle Korver, Chris Bosh, Luke Walton, Kirk Hinrich, and Carmelo Anthony also came Dwyane Wade and LeBron James; who were easily the most game-changing additions of the draft that year. Is it even fair to compare the two and ask which has contributed more to the sport? Both are 12-time NBA All Stars and both have been capable of winning championships without each other, one time each. Both players play different positions with separate styles and distinctive abilities. Unique scoring, defense, attitude, strengths and weaknesses certainly give each player advantages over the other. However, which player is it fair to say is more valuable than the other? Here are 8 advantages for LeBron James and 7 for Dwyane Wade that may persuade you in their direction!
23 LeBron: On-Ball Defense
It is not much of secret that LeBron can be difficult to score on. James has executed crucial stops on some of the biggest names in today’s basketball including Draymond Green, Dwight Howard, Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony, Andre Iguodala, Steph Curry, James Harden, Manu Ginobili, Ray Allen, Derrick Rose, and Klay Thompson. LeBron also gets his fair share of steals, averaging 1.7 steals throughout his career, while he has also averaged 6.0 defensive rebounds per game throughout his career. LeBron’s power make it difficult to dunk on him, his size makes it difficult to shoot over him, and his speed makes it difficult to move around him. LeBron James has honed his defensive skills during his career and it helps to separate him from other great small-forwards. This is the same set of defensive skills that played a huge part in neutralizing the Golden State Warriors in the recent 2016 Finals.
22 Wade: Better 1-on-1 Player
Very seldom will you ever see Dwyane Wade in an isolation with a defender in a situation that does not result in him scoring. In the early 2000s, Kobe Bryant was still The Black Mamba that fans grew to love watching. If you had to choose the second best 1-on-1 scorer, from that time period, it was obviously Dwyane Wade. Dwyane Wade believed that nobody could stop him from scoring. He reflected upon it in interviews and he especially showed it on the court. Dwyane Wade also won the NBA All-Star Skill Challenge Championship two times back to back. This happened in 2006 and then again in 2007. Dwayne Wade’s speed, footwork, ball-handling ability, basketball IQ, and creativity allow him to score on anyone and to never fear any defender.
19 LeBron: Better Overall Scorer
Aside from being a great defender, the first pick of the 2013 NBA Draft proves his worth in his scoring ability. LeBron has never averaged less than 20 points per game in a season and his average during his entire career with Miami was nearly 27. This is higher than most of Wade’s point per game season averages, as he has only scored more than 27 points per game in three seasons. LeBron’s total field goal count is 9,687 career field goals against Wade’s 7,325. This is throughout the entirety of both careers in which James has spent 38,478 minutes on the court versus Wade’s 30,560. To top it all off, LeBron James has had 45 games in his career in which he has scored at least 40 points. Similar to some of the greats that he is often compared to, James is very assertive, aggressive, and dominant in his nature of scoring. His most effective methods of scoring range from dunks, fast breaks, distant shots, and fade aways.
18 Wade: Injury Recovery
Some say that Dwyane Wade could have been this era’s MJ if it were not for his injuries. While we don't think that's the case, the injuries haven't done too much to damage D-Wade's reputation and, although these setbacks may have had a slight impact on Wade’s career, he never allowed them to alter his performance or legacy. After undergoing a knee surgery before the 2012-2013 season, Dwyane Wade would go on to score 21.2 points per game, along with 5.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. That's the same year that saw Wade's Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals for the NBA Championship. In these Finals, Dwyane Wade averaged 19.6 points, 4.6 assists and 4 rebounds per game against a terrific San Antonio Spurs side.
16 LeBron: Elevates His Team
LeBron James went to Miami in 2010 and then back to Cleveland in 2014. When LeBron went to Miami in 2010, Mario Chalmers saw a drop in his turnovers. Chalmers averaged 1.9 turnovers per game before LeBron went to Miami in his first two years in the league. He would drop that numbers to 1.3 turnovers per game the following season, when James made "The Decision" to move to South Beach.
Another example would be when LeBron and Kyrie Irving were brought together in Cleveland in 2014, as Irving when on to score 1628 points through the season. This was a significant improvement on the 1478 that he scored the previous year and he only played four more games. For each season of LeBron’s entire NBA career, his average assists per game has never been below 5.9, showing how he facilitates things for his teammates despite being a terrific scorer.
15 Wade: Shot Selection
Dwyane Wade has a tantalizing set of offensive skills that appears to be designed to deteriorate the defensive footwork and aggressive pressure of his opponent. When defending Wade, it is nearly impossible to square yourself and keep your balance, all while preserving a safe distance between you and the small, yet lethal, shooting guard. And even when you deliver your best defense, you can still be confident that Wade will score with a turn-around shot, floater, crafty finger roll, or off-balance shot. Wade specializes in creating open shots and resourceful scoring opportunities, especially when his defender expects it least. This trait allows Dwyane Wade to be a very adaptable and inventive in difficult or even unfamiliar scenarios.
13 LeBron: Diversity
One of the greatest benefits of having LeBron James on your roster is the diversity and flexibility he brings to your lineup. When a member of your team gets injured or is abruptly suspended or kicked from the game, James may be able to turn that liability into an advantage. LeBron James can play most positions on the court and can play them at an extremely high level. James is agile as most point guards and more powerful than many centers in the league today. The small forward stands at 6'8" and weighs about 250 pounds, but he can dribble, pass, shoot, dunk, screen, and block, with great ease. Throughout his career, LeBron James has 58 triple-doubles. 16 of these took place during playoff games and 7 of them occurred during NBA Finals games. This puts LeBron in second place for the “Most Finals Triple-Doubles” record and “Most Playoffs Triple-Doubles” record. Magic Johnson is currently the record holder of both.
12 Wade: Unique Shooting Guard
Unlike many shooting guards, Dwyane Wade stands at only 6'3". This is much shorter than most shooting guards who generally stand anywhere between 6'5" and 6'8". Also unlike many shooting guards, as well as athletes of his size, Wade gets a decent amount of shot blocks. Throughout his career thus far, Dwyane Wade averages around 1 block per game. Although this is not an extraordinarily high number, it is definitely regarded as very decent for a basketball player of Wade’s position and size. For perspective’s sake, Kobe Bryant, who is 6'6" averaged 0.5 blocks per game throughout the entirety of his career. Aside from his size and defensive skills, Wade’s scoring techniques and offensive mentality are also unorthodox, making him a unique and legendary guard.
10 LeBron: Big Power Moves
LeBron James is never afraid to drive, dunk, or charge the defense. Unlike Dwyane Wade, LeBron is a large and powerful athlete. Things like posterizing dunks, fast break scoring, rejecting shots, and post up scoring are things that LeBron James fans have become completely accustomed to seeing nearly every game. Some of the big names that LeBron has committed some atrocious dunks on include Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Jason Terry, and Kobe Bryant. LeBron James has also rejected shot attempts from Steph Curry, Tiago Splitter, Andre Iguodala, Jason Richardson, Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George. This list of names makes it clear that LeBron pays no mind to the name of the opponent in which he is victimizing.
9 Wade: Mid-Range Game
Dwyane Wade is always willing to pull up and drop one right in front of you. It is pretty well known that Dwayne Wade has a jump shot that hits the mark seemingly at will. But his accuracy is amplified when the shooting guard fires anywhere from a mid-ranged distance. Whether he's off balance, still in motion, just off of the dribble, or even with a defender’s hand waving in front of his face, Wade is sure to make the shot drop nearly every time. During each season through his career, Wade never saw his average 2-point field goal percentage drop to anything lower than 46.8%. And his overall average 2-point field goal percentage, considering all seasons, is currently at 50.8%. This is slightly more impressive than Kobe Bryant’s average of 47.9% that was finalized when he retired.
7 LeBron: Leadership Factor
Many fans, sports analysts, and critics will discredit LeBron and his ability to lead a team. However, James has proven many times that he is capable of not only winning games for his team, but even at times carrying them to the Finals. In 2007, LeBron James took the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. And he did so with no other All Stars on his team. It is arguable that his best teammate was Larry Hughes that year.
Also, during the 2016 NBA Finals, LeBron James averaged 29.7 points per game. This was higher than any other player’s average in the 2016 NBA Finals. But the real evidence in James’ leadership skills lies in the fact that he also averaged 8.9 assists per game during those 2016 NBA Finals games. This is equivalent to the average assists that Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving accumulated in the same series, combined.
6 Wade: Thrives Under Pressure
Dwyane Wade is not usually one to fold under pressure, if you haven’t noticed. And this especially shines through once you have seen the competitor fight his way through a series in order to get an NBA Championship. Wade has had one of the greatest scoring performances in the history of NBA Finals basketball, where he averaged 34.7 points per game back in 2005/06. During that series against the Dallas Mavericks, he led the 2006 Miami Heat to an unforgettable victory that exemplifies Wade’s heart in high-stakes scenarios. The Dallas Mavericks were confident in their 2-0 series lead, before Dwyane Wade dominated the remainder of the series, leading Miami to their first ever Championship.
4 LeBron: Younger Player/Healthier
Although LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were both drafted into the NBA during the same year, LeBron is actually three years younger than Dwyane Wade. LeBron is 31 years old, while Wade is already 34. Aside from just the age difference, the amount of injuries that these players have accumulated will definitely alter the duration of their NBA career. James has not had any major injuries that could set him back too far. Not only that, but even his last minor injury occurred long ago, near the end of 2014 when he claimed to have a sore left knee that never proved to be any real injury. And although Dwyane Wade generally performs at a decent level after his injuries, they still may very well be detrimental to his athleticism in the sooner years to come.
3 Wade: Won Miami’s First Championship
When LeBron James went to Miami, he went to D-Wade's team, as he had already take his team to heights they had never reached before. The first time the Miami Heat won an NBA Championship was in 2006, when Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal carried them to a ring over the Dallas Mavericks. During these finals, was on fire, averaging nearly 40 points per game. It is definitely fair to say that the Miami Heat franchise would not have a single NBA Championship if it were not for the talent and dedication of Dwyane Wade. It's incredibly fair and accurate to claim that Dwyane Wade is the greatest player in Miami Heat history.
2 LeBron: MVP Every Time He Wins NBA Finals
This accomplishment speaks volumes on the impact that LeBron James can have on the game. LeBron is always an important asset to his team and he is not afraid to enforce his will upon his opponent. This is especially apparent in big games and high stakes situations. Although LeBron has sometimes been known to choke in the playoffs, LeBron James has proven that he can execute a championship performance when it is absolutely necessary. James has won the NBA Championship on three separate occasions; twice with Miami in 2012 and 2013, and once with Cleveland in 2016. Not only was LeBron James awarded with MVP for all three of these NBA Finals series, but he also averaged a double-double during each series as well.