Stephen Curry and Dwyane Wade are two of the greatest guards to have ever played the game. For the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat respectively, each legend might be the best to ever wear the jerseys. Of course, both players are first-ballot Hall of Famers.
Stephen Curry is responsible for changing the NBA game to what it is today, while Dwyane Wade is widely regarded as a top-3 shooting guard of all time. With 3 NBA titles each, it is only natural to compare the qualities of both players in terms of skills and intangible attributes. It's time to find out which superstar is a greater all-time player.
Scoring - Stephen Curry
In terms of offense, this is all about Stephen Curry. Curry is the best marksman in NBA history who can create his own shot from three, and probably the most lethal shooter we have ever seen when he is hot. Curry's career average of 24.0 PPG on 43.1% shooting from three means he is an all-time great shooter.
Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade in his prime was a supreme slasher. Nicknamed "Flash", Wade was impossible to stay in front of because he was lightning quick and had a soft touch at the rim. Where Wade differs from Curry is jump shooting. Dwyane Wade's career averages of 22.0 PPG on 48.0% shooting is solid, and he did it by attacking the rim. Wade was also proficient from the mid-range but only shot 29.3% from three for his career, meaning Curry is a better all-around scorer.
Athleticism - Dwyane Wade
In terms of pure athleticism, Dwyane Wade has to take the edge. Wade is 6'4" and weighs 220 lbs, which meant he had explosiveness that is legendary. Not to mention, Wade had an insane vertical and was capable of putting anyone on a poster. His dunk over Anderson Varejao still rumbles in people's memories until this day.
Curry doesn't get enough credit for his athleticism. He doesn't play above the rim at all, but he has good height for a point guard and is very quick with and without the ball. Curry just lacks the lateral quickness of Wade and there is no comparison in this attribute as a result.
Defense - Dwyane Wade
As great as Dwyane Wade was on offense, he was a dominant defensive guard. Quite possibly the best shot-blocking guard ever, Wade had the knack for contesting shots and getting back on defense for rejections. He also moved his feet very well and made 3 All-Defensive Teams over his career while averaging 1.5 SPG and 0.8 BPG.
Stephen Curry has decent size at 6'3" but he does not offer that much on defense. With a career average of 1.7 SPG and 0.2 BPG, Curry's impact comes in playing passing lanes and not on on-ball defense. Stephen Curry is nowhere near the defensive stopper of Wade because of athleticism and basketball IQ.
Clutch - Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade has come up in the clutch many times over his legendary career. Especially in the postseason, Wade came to life in the biggest moments. His clutch attributes were the reason he led the Miami Heat over MVP Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in 2006. Wade always performs best in the biggest situations and that's why he is ranked 3rd all-time as a shooting guard.
Stephen Curry, as dominant as he is in the regular season, has not had the amount of dominant postseason performances that Wade has. Curry is a great player who is unstoppable on offense, but he wasn't the best player during any of his Finals runs. Andre Iguodala was in 2015, and Kevin Durant was in 2017 and 2018.
Leadership - Dwyane Wade
Both Wade and Curry have been the best players on their teams and led by their work ethic and dominance on the court. Therefore, leadership needs to be judged on how the superstar overcomes adversity and performs in the biggest moments.
As a leader, there is no doubt Dwyane Wade was top-notch. Wade won the NBA title in 2006 as the best player in the Finals and often carried the Heat on his back. Even when a superstar like LeBron James joined his team in Miami, Wade was the player who knew how to win the big games. As he aged, Wade was vocal and led by example.
Stephen Curry is one of the most unselfish stars in NBA history. He welcomed the best talent on his team and didn't mind taking a backseat for the better of the team. That is leadership in itself and he deserves credit for that. But Curry isn't the leader Wade was. Curry was often protected from criticism because it was Kevin Durant who took the heat in Golden State.
Basketball I.Q. - Even
Basketball IQ is determined by play on both ends of the floor. He was a dominant scorer, an underrated playmaker, and was a lockdown defender. Wade was smart enough to dominate in the clutch and knew when to score and when to pass. Wade was a gifted player and his basketball IQ was off the charts.
Stephen Curry's IQ is Hall of Fame great because he knows how to dominate a game on offense. He was not quite as smart as Wade on the defensive end, but Curry has shown he can take over a game with his shooting. As great as Wade was on offense, he doesn't have the ability to take over games as consistently as Curry. This one is even.
Impact - Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry has to have an impact on the game more than Wade because he changed the game. Much like Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O'Neal changed the NBA, Curry has done it in his own way. Because of his marksmanship, teams want to shoot threes like him. Curry proved to the world that 3 points are worth more than 2 points, and shooting 40% from three often guarantees a win.
Dwyane Wade was a dominant two-way player, but he couldn't go off like Curry can. His inability to shoot three consistently means he had to take a lot of contact by driving to the basket, often resulting in nagging injuries. Curry impacts the game and makes it look effortless, so he gets the nod.
1 on 1 Game - Stephen Curry
In terms of one-on-one play, Stephen Curry might be the best point guard ever. Curry has handles, shooting range, and the ability to create space. He is impossible to defend, especially in today's NBA because you can't lay a finger on him. Judging Curry in his current era, he is arguably the greatest offensive force today.
Dwyane Wade was dominant in one on one situations, on both ends of the floor, but he couldn't go off like Curry. Stephen Curry doesn't need much space or time to operate and he is lethal from past half court. Wade was a special 1 on 1 player but he wasn't Stephen Curry.
Career - Stephen Curry
The most difficult attribute to gauge is the career. Both players are 3-time NBA champions and are multiple-time All-Stars. The difference lies in the individual accolades.
Dwyane Wade has a Finals MVP to his name and has 13 All-Star Teams to his name. He also captured the 2009 Scoring title and made 8 All-NBA Teams. Stephen Curry does not have a Finals MVP but is a 2-time regular-season MVP. He has only made 7 All-Star Teams although he made 6 All-NBA Teams. Curry captured the 2016 Scoring title.
It is hard to judge the accolades of both players, but Curry gets the slight edge. His back-to-back MVP seasons were iconic, as he was the first unanimous MVP. The fact that Curry doesn't have a Finals MVP brings him down a notch when compared to Wade, but the sharpshooter changed the game and deserves the nod because of that.
Final Score: Stephen Curry vs. Dwyane Wade 4-4
This is a tough comparison because it can go either way, and the comparisons are awfully close because there are arguments from both sides. Wade did not benefit from playing in the era of weaker defense in his prime, while he had to overcome a ton of adversity.
Coming back against the Mavericks in 2006 was iconic, and players do not put this kind of performance. Stephen Curry changed the NBA game and is the greatest shooter who has ever played the game. 3 NBA titles in 4 years are also impressive, so the comparison is even.