When naming the greatest shooting guards of all time (after Michael Jordan), the two names often talked about are Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. Both players are NBA Champions, Finals MVPs, and easy first-ballot Hall of Famers. On both ends of the floor, these two shooting guards were able to make an impact on their teams and bring championships.
Yet, many want to know how they compare. Even when they have different playing styles, NBA fans will find evidence that one player is better than the other. Kobe has 5 rings to Wade’s 3, but Wade carried a Heat team to an NBA Championship as underdogs by putting one of the greatest Finals series in NBA history. Not to mention, both players absolutely dominated on offense and on defense.
But how do they compare? Who truly had a better career, and who is the better player?
Inside Scoring – Dwyane Wade
Kobe Bryant was a high flyer back in his afro days and could jam it over anybody in the league. As he got older, he was very elusive and could slither his way to the basket for easy finishes.
But Wade was a slasher of the highest order. He could shift speeds and change direction, especially in his Flash days, better than anybody in the league. Wade was a master at attacking the rim and drawing contact. He was constantly at the free-throw line, getting easy points for his team. Even as he aged, Wade could run on the fast break and finish with splendid layups.
Wade is better than Bryant at inside scoring and takes this first one.
Outside Scoring – Kobe Bryant
This one is a no-brainer. Kobe is one of the game’s greatest offensive perimeter players, who was able to create his own shots and drain tough shots from anymore. Bryant was very lethal from mid-range and could extend beyond the three-point line. Even if Kobe wasn’t as good a sharpshooter as a guy like Stephen Curry, he was able to get hot and drain as many as 12 three-pointers in a game- a then record.
Wade has always been a very average three-point shooter, and could never be relied upon to make these shots on a consistent basis. When it mattered most, he was able to make them but Kobe was just better.
Bryant evens it up 1-1.
Playmaking – Dwyane Wade
Both players were the main scorers on their teams for almost their entire career. Bryant loved to score the ball, and we know that, and so did Wade. But if there is one aspect that is underrated it is their playmaking.
Bryant averaged 5 assists per game for his career, a respectable number for one of the most high-profile gunners of all time, while Wade averaged 5 assists per game as well.
But Wade was a slightly better playmaker. Wade was the main point guard and playmaker for the Miami Heat when they won the championship in 2006, and he did an admirable job of controlling the pace of play. Wade also famously took a backseat and became more of a playmaker when LeBron James came on board.
Bryant was a great passer, but Wade’s willingness to sacrifice his offensive game to be a playmaker gives him the edge.
Athleticism – Kobe Bryant
This one is a very close one since both players were monsters early on in their careers. Young Bryant was one of the best dunkers in the league, while Wade threw down one of the best dunks in history over poor Anderson Varejao. Both players were quick, strong, and capable of getting up towards the rim. Even as they aged, they remained in tremendous shape and could weave to the basket whenever they wanted.
But Bryant’s athletic prowess in his afro days was slightly better. Bryant was a tremendous athlete, and he often could perform things only a few players in history could. Bryant’s ability to constantly get open and find space is a testament to his athletic prowess. He takes his one slightly.
Defense – Even
While both players were exceptional offensive players, they also made their names on the defensive end. Bryant was a multiple-time All-Defensive Team performer and loved the challenge of taking on and defending the opposing team’s best players. Bryant could guard 3 positions and set a tone on the defensive end by coming up with steals.
Wade also was a great defender and is regarded as the best shot-blocking guard of all time. Wade’s tenacity on defense is one of the reasons he is a multiple-time champion. Especially playing for the Miami Heat, he is the epitome of defense wins championships.
Since both players were excellent defensive play for the majority of their careers, this one is even.
Rim Protection – Dwyane Wade
While both players were exceptional perimeter defenders, Wade was a tremendous shot blocker. He would often come from behind for sneaky blocks, or just straight up deny any weak shot around the basket. Once again, Wade is probably the best shot-blocking guard in history so he takes this one.
Rebounds – Even
Both Wade and Bryant were decent rebounders, averaging around 5-6 games. Bryant was a little bit taller, but both managed to crash the boards when their teams needed it.
Wade was very athletic in his prime, so he could sky for easy rebounds. As he got older, he relied more on savviness to get his. Kobe Bryant played with pure desire, so if he had a big rebounding game, it was because he wanted it more.
This one is even.
Clutch – Kobe Bryant
Dwyane Wade put forth one of the greatest clutch performances in the 2006 NBA Finals by always coming up big when his team needed him most. After that, he hit multiple games winning shots and always seemed to have an answer both offensively and defensively for his team.
But Bryant was on another level. There isn’t a player in history who loved to take critical shots more than him, and he would do it every night if he had to. While this does not lend itself to efficiency, nobody has hit more game-winners than Kobe. His ability to take and make big shots gives him the edge.
Leadership – Kobe Bryant
Both Wade and Bryant were the best players on their teams for many years, and we’re exceptional leaders. Wade led by his play, and also by his impact both on the floor and to the fans. He was always adored by the masses, and other players had respect for his toughness and skillset on both ends of the floor.
Bryant was an interesting case since he had to grow into becoming a leader. When he was young, he wanted to dominate everybody and this put respect on his name. As he got older, he learned to get his teammates involved and win two straight titles with the Lakers.
Bryant takes the edge because he was more vocal and held others accountable.
Basketball I.Q. – Kobe Bryant
Both players clearly have a high basketball I.Q., but Bryant edges Wade here.
Bryant could score in every way imaginable, and he was often the focal point of the entire game. When he was double and triple-teamed, Bryant effectively controlled the offense by finding space for a shot or moving the ball. His ability to control a game with his skill set is very rare.
Wade was a tremendous player at attacking the rim and finding holes in the defense. He always seemed to find spaces to attack and was deadly on the fast break. Defensively, he was very solid and rarely made mistakes.
This one is close, but Kobe’s complete skill set helps him take this.
Scoring – Kobe Bryant
Wade was an exceptional scorer, but there is no doubt that Kobe was a better one.
Kobe could do it all offensively and had a variety of moves and counter moves anytime a defender would come close. Even on the block, his footwork was sublime. Kobe was the man on offense, even managing to drop a whopping 81 points in a single game.
While Wade could score with the best of them, his lack of an outside shot prevents him from overtaking Bryant.
Impact – Kobe Bryant
On both ends of the floor, their impact is very close. Wade could lock you down and then score on the other end with ease. Bryant could also.
But how did this translate to wins? Bryant won 5 titles compared to Wade’s 3, even though they both had great talent on the team. Bryant had Shaq but Wade had LeBron (and an older Shaq). Wades two Finals losses with James do not look too good on his resume, while Bryant failed twice in frustrating fashion as well.
But five beats three. And overall, Kobe Bryant was a more impactful player. He could shoot the ball much better, so he would be able to completely take over an offense and he couldn’t be stopped. Kobe takes this one.
1 on 1 Game – Kobe Bryant
As good as Wade is one on one, Bryant was better. He had footwork, he had shot, he had craftiness around the basket, he had it all. Kobe literally had no weakness on the offensive end barring times he would shoot his team out of games sometimes.
But one on one, this comes to his favor. Still, Wade brings this one closely thanks to his ability to use his quickness to get to the basket. He also had a strong mid-range game which made it easier if defenders sagged off of him. His outside shot, however, was a bit suspect. Bryant takes this final one.