Essay: The Superstar Swap, Part III
It’s superstar swap time! Here, a hypothetical straight up player for player deal is offered involving two of the league’s best and brightest. Both viewpoints are then processed, and the fake trade’s winner is decided by way of which fan base would ultimately be happier. In this fictional situation, the players are only swapped for a single season of action, with everything else—rosters, coaches, owners—staying exactly the same.
Kobe Bryant vs. Dwyane Wade
2010-11 relevant stats:
Bryant – 82 starts, 10.3 WS, 23.9 PER, 54.8 TS%, 32.3 3P%, 82.8 FT%, 7.1 FTA, 5.1 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 25.3 PPG.
Wade – 76 starts, 12.8 WS, 25.6 PER, 58.1 TS%, 30.6 3P%, 75.8 FT%, 8.6 FTA, 6.4 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 25.5 PPG.
They’re the two best shooting guards in today’s NBA, and when judged by history’s hindsight, could end their careers as two of the five best shooting guards who ever lived. Both players are the closest in style, attitude, athleticism, desire, leadership, and skill that we’ve had since Michael Jordan’s second retirement, and it’s very difficult to find anyone in the league who you’d rather have take the last shot with your house’s mortgage on the line. (Helpful Disclaimer: Gambling the height of your life’s financial achievement on the shot of a basketball is not smart business).
As the years go by, Kobe Bryant—he of the five rings, tireless work ethic, and science fiction related Germanic knee surgery—will be comparatively discussed with Wade as those talk about Larry and Magic. Not with the same rivalry driven narrative, but the same reverence. Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant can’t be guarded one on one, they don’t tire, and when discussing complete basketball specimens—mind included—they’re both at the top of what they do.
Because this season’s rosters are so confusing, we’ll roll with what we have right now, on paper. Neither team has any of their unsigned free agents, but we will add those who have been reported to sign for the 2011-12 season (Kapono in L.A.; Battier in Miami). So, who comes out on top in a swap for two of professional basketball’s current Mount Rushmore figures.
Los Angeles’ Viewpoint:
In terms of his ability as a go-to scorer, emotional leader, and dependent ship steerer, the Lakers receive the one player in the league it’d make sense for them to replace Kobe Bryant with. Strictly looking at it from a basketball perspective, there’d be no drop off offensively and a slight upgrade in defensive play, as Wade has surpassed Kobe as the league’s best perimeter two guard stopper, especially as an absolute freak on help. Pairing him with Pau and Bynum would create no ego related problem, and, still relishing in his prime, Wade would likely have no problem giving up personal touches for the good of the team. Already used to playing alongside a dead person at point guard, he’d also be able to bring the ball up the court and initiate offensive sets quickly. With no Kobe, the Lakers would be fine here.
This is what everybody wants to see, right? Kobe with LeBron? Despite Wade overtaking Kobe in the eyes of many as an overall better player, the sheer mysticism of placing a media fueled rivalry, and two of the game’s biggest names, together on the same team would either make everyone involved’s head explode, or put the team in direct cruise control on their way to a championship. Implosion or explosion. In this situation, I think each player fits into their role a bit easier. LeBron is officially stamped as the game’s greatest playmaker, averaging 15-20 points, 10+ rebounds, 10+ assists a game, existing as the single greatest secondary scoring option in the history of the world. On the other hand, Kobe Bryant continues on his usual path of finisher, relieving James of any pressures that come with attacking late in the game. Those who know basketball don’t question LeBron for sidestepping Bryant as the final shot taker and Kobe gladly puts everything on his shoulders. This clear separation of roles, and declaration of team parameters, makes Miami an even likelier championship winning candidate. Also, Bryant doesn’t care if everybody hates him, which could work wonders in motivating the dry-heaving, bubble wrapped Chris Bosh.
L.A. might get better, they might not. With the loss of their very own Moses, Lakers fans cry either way. Down in Miami, nobody realizes anything has happened until the All-Star break, when Wade is playing for the West. A few people double check to make sure Miami hasn’t magically transported to southern California.
Winner? Whoever wins the championship.