Tuesday , Nov , 15 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

The Showdown: Kobe Bryant vs. Tracy McGrady and Emeka Okafor vs. Dwight Howard

What’s good, basketball fans?

Eric B. and Rakim. Batman and Robin. Bobby and Whitney. Peanut butter and jelly.

In this world some things just go together, and this is an idea that holds true in life as much as basketball. Certain pairings are symbiotic in nature and lead to wins, rings and other good things. Some are a little less amicable, more likely to culminate in a scrap than a chip for either party. A third type is that which exists only in the eyes of the public and media, who consciously connect two players for any number of reasons.

It is this third category which we’ll be looking at in an attempt to answer the age-old question applied to so many pairs of rival players: “Who’s better?” Today’s head-to-heads pit Kobe Bryant against Tracy McGrady, and Emeka Okafor against Dwight Howard. To suggest a future match-up or to reach me with your thoughts, email me at CY.Ellis@HoopsVibe.com or leave a comment in the box at the bottom of the page.

The Showdown: Kobe Bryant vs. Tracy McGrady and Emeka Okafor vs. Dwight Howard

Let’s get right into it.

Kobe Bryant vs. Tracy McGrady
 
The Numbers
 
KB8
YEAR
TEAM
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
OFF
DEF
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
TO
PF
PPG
04-05
LAL
66
66
40.7
.433
.339
.816
1.4
4.5
5.9
6.0
1.30
.80
4.09
2.60
27.6
05-06
LAL
7
7
40.0
.456
.000
.843
1.4
4.1
5.6
4.6
.57
.71
3.43
3.00
29.9
Career
 
634
486
35.1
.452
.332
.831
1.3
3.8
5.1
4.4
1.44
.60
2.85
2.70
22.5
 
T-Mac
YEAR
TEAM
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
OFF
DEF
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
TO
PF
PPG
04-05
HOU
78
78
40.8
.431
.326
.774
.9
5.3
6.2
5.7
1.73
.67
2.58
2.10
25.7
05-06
HOU
3
3
34.7
.474
.571
.625
1.7
4.7
6.3
3.7
.67
1.33
2.33
2.00
24.0
Career
 
568
428
34.6
.444
.350
.758
1.8
4.5
6.4
4.3
1.37
1.10
2.24
2.00
22.0
 
 
The Intangibles
 
While Tracy may have recently given us one of the greatest crunch time performances in sports history with the 13-in-35 show, Kobe is still the last guy in the league you’d want to be taking the big shot against your team. Similarly, KB8 gets the nod over T-Mac for his D, good enough to earn him several All-Defensive team selections over the years. What hurts Kobe’s case, however, is his reputation as a player whose attitude is often detrimental to team harmony, a perception which doesn’t seem entirely unfounded given the heavily publicised beefs with Shaq, Chucky Atkins, Phil Jackson and others.
 
The Verdict
 
Although their numbers bear a close resemblance, there’s a difference between these two that can’t be quantified statistically. Arguments can be made for either, but for me, Kobe is simply the bigger all-round threat. Standing 6’9’’ in his socks (ignore the playerfile listing) and with a 7’4’’ wingspan, decent lateral quickness and eye-popping athleticism, Tracy should be able to lock down the middle three positions, but he’s yet to show anything more than brief flashes of his defensive potential. Until he at least partially matches his offensive output with his effort at the other end of the floor, he’ll always be a half-step behind Mr. Bryant.
 
 
Emeka Okafor vs. Dwight Howard
 
The Numbers
 
Emeka
YEAR
TEAM
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
OFF
DEF
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
TO
PF
PPG
 04-05
CHA  
73
73
35.6
.447
.000
.609
3.8
7.1
10.9
.9
.85
1.71
1.71
2.90
15.1
 05-06
CHA  
7
7
34.4
.378
.000
.600
3.0
5.9
8.9
1.3
1.00
1.29
1.57
2.90
13.1
 Career
 
80
80
35.5
.441
.000
.608
3.7
7.0
10.7
.9
.86
1.60
1.70
2.90
15.0
 
Dwight
YEAR
TEAM
G
GS
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
OFF
DEF
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
TO
PF
PPG
 04-05
ORL  
82
82
32.6
.520
.000
.671
3.5
6.5
10.0
.9
.94
1.66
2.01
2.80
12.0
 05-06
ORL  
6
6
37.2
.492
.000
.653
3.0
7.3
10.3
1.2
.50
1.50
1.67
3.70
15.7
 Career
 
88
88
32.9
.518
.000
.669
3.5
6.6
10.1
.9
.91
1.60
1.99
2.90
12.2
 
 
The Intangibles
 
As an NCAA champion who earned a degree in just three years, Emeka Okafor is the type of individual any team would be happy to have. What’s more, his cerebral approach to shot-blocking and rebounding suggests that he’ll be a player whose career could last beyond the injuries and inevitable physical breakdown that comes with age. Dwight Howard, on the other hand, came into the league a spring-loaded spring chicken living off athleticism like Paul Mooney lives off racial comedy. However, the end of last year and the beginning of this one have seen a marked improvement in his back-to-the-basket game and the refinement of various shots, the likes of which separate the good from the great.
 
 
The Verdict
 
Last season, I would have given this to The Don ’Meka without hesitation. Following Howard’s strong start to the year, however, it’s not quite so easy to do so. At the end of the day, this one comes down to everyone’s favourite x-factor: potential. Given that Dwight oozes the stuff from his pores, I can only conclude that Dwight is the smart man’s choice here.
 
 
Join us tomorrow for another instalment of The Showdown and a look at whatever news rocks the NBA in the next twenty-four hours. Until then, take it easy.
 
 

CYE