In terms of superstardom, Dwyane Wade and John Wall are heading in opposite directions.
The 33-year-old Miami Heat guard is on the tail end of his illustrious 12-year run in the NBA. He doesn’t have the bounce he once possessed, but make no mistake — Wade is still a killer.
Wall, on the other hand, has evolved from a raw, athletic specimen into one of the league’s most well-rounded floor generals.
Both of these guys are straight-up dogs. But which is the alpha?
TALE OF THE TAPE
- Height: 6’4”
- Weight: 194 pounds
- Age: 25
- Wingspan: 6’9.25”
- Max-vert: 43”
- Height: 6’4”
- Weight: 220 pounds
- Age: 33
- Wingspan: 6′ 10.75″
- Max-vert: N/A (35” rookie year)
Game is to 15, win by two. Inside the arc is one point, beyond is two. Winner’s ball.
THE CASE FOR WALL
A few months ago, here’s what I likened Wall’s athleticism to:
He runs the court like a raindrop on a window—stopping and starting unpredictably, slowing to a jog and then bursting forward at maximum speed in a millisecond.
He’s a freak, but a different breed of freak. While players like Russell Westbrook play at 110 miles per hour every minute of every game, Wall knows when to balance cruise-control with full-throttle.
And in a one-on-one game against a savvy veteran like D-Wade, that’s a valuable trait.
Even at 33 years old, Wade is still a respectable defender. But there are certain things he — or anyone, really — just can’t stop.
Last season, per NBA.com, Wall shot an insane 79.8 percent on all pullup jumpers. If he can get the Heat Lifer on the move and then stop on a dime, space is created. In 2014-15, the Washington Wizards star knocked down 59.1 percent of “wide open” shots.
One concern Wall must have in this type of game, though, will be distance.
Wall’s money-range is right at the rim. From less than five feet out, the slashing showstopper shot 60.3 percent from the field. Move back four feet (to 5-9), though, and the number dips to 35.3 percent.
Being an uber-intelligent player, Wade might just fall back and bait Wall into open long-range jumpers. It wouldn’t be a defense unfamiliar to Dubs.
“I just read what the defense gives me,” Wall told Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post in December. “If I know I’m not on that night, I’m not going to take them all night. I’m going to hold my dribble and keep things going. But if I got it going, I’m going to take them.”
In order to have a shot against the versatile fox that Wade has become, Wall would have to knock down a few early jumpers — and maybe even a triple or two — and force his defender to play him.
If it becomes a shooting contest from the elbow-beyond, Wall is at a disadvantage. In a physical, touch-and-go battle, momentum swings in favor of the younger and more athletic of the two.
THE CASE FOR WADE
Wade isn’t the guy who used to dunk on defenders and let them hear about it. He can still get up — and don’t you think for a second that he’s eternally grounded — but he’s a different player.
He picks his spots now.
Here’s one he picked last year:
Per NBA.com, the only shots No. 3 attempted less than dunks were hook shots (did anyone ever see one of those!?), tip shots and finger rolls.
He missed just one of his 27 dunk attempts, but attempted 53 bank shots, 79 fadeaways, 222 layups and 775 jumpers.
Wade has the ability to back down a smaller or weaker defender the same way Kobe Bryant can. He knows where he wants to go, he gets there and then he sinks the shot he wants.
Wall is no joke on the defensive end, but Wade can frustrate him by forcing him into jumpers and slowing the game to a crawl. Despite Wall’s insane athleticism, Wade won’t be too rattled — last year, he shot 48.5 percent with defenders in tight coverage, which was better than his mark when open.
If Wade can make Wall play his game, he’ll be in business.
Wall jumps out to an early lead — no talking, no nonsense. Wall is really going hard, and winning. Wade has a sense of arrogance about him despite being down a few points. He’s loudly chewing gum and going through the motions. Then Wall mumbles something cocky. Wade drops the smile, quits shooting jumpers and begins to back down the young fella. Wall has no answer. When Johnny Dubs does get the ball, Wade rolls it to him and steps back. “Shoot,” he dares him. Wall does shoot, and he makes a few. If Wade does that five times, Wall makes two. With the score locked at 10, Wade tells Wall “It’s over.” He drills one from beyond the arc. Wall gets up in him next, so Wade drives by and dunks it. It’s the first time he flexes the vertical. He then tells Wall he’s going to take another long-ball. Splash. Game over.
Final: Wade 15, Wall 10