We argue. You decide…
DWIGHT HOWARD (by Aron Phillips)
While everyone is talking about LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade, CP3 and Bosh as potential MVP candidates this season, that race would not be complete without Dwight Howard‘s name in the mix. Through 18 games, a time in which the Magic have compiled a 13-5 record, Superman is averaging 21.4 points, 14.0 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game. Yao, on the other hand, doesn’t even come close.
By season’s end, Howard could become the only player besides Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Ben Wallace to win the NBA rebounding and blocked-shots titles. A feat that could potentially punctuate his MVP run. Yao will be lucky to average a double-double.
Not only is Howard an amazing player, he’s a guy that other players want to play with. In the Carmelo Anthony interview I posted yesterday, ‘Melo rounded out his starting five with LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade and Howard. It’s no surprise; he headlined the 2007-08 All-NBA First Team last May.
Last month, Howard registered his first career triple-double with 30 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocks — a feat Yao has never even come close to doing in his seven years in the League. But it’s clearly not all about individual success. I guarantee Howard will lead the Magic past the first round of the playoffs this season; Yao and company, not so much.
In case you need any more evidence, just go HERE.
YAO MING (by Austin Burton)
Why wouldn’t you hate on Yao? Conventional sneaker-company wisdom says your average fan can’t relate to the literal giants of the game, especially one who’s 7-foot-5 with a head the size of a microwave, who is allegedly as close to a genetically-engineered human being as you can get. Throw in the fact that he’s constantly getting hurt — missing 86 of a possible 246 games in the past three seasons — and hasn’t been past the first round of the playoffs. Put it all together, and you’ve got what looks like a fragile, robotic, physically freakish loser. So you hate. I get it.
(There’s another element at play, and if no one else is going to say it, f*** it, I will: We live in an elitist, xenophobic America, and Yao isn’t one of us. Even if the bias isn’t malicious or conscious, it’s still there and it’s a reality.)
Granted, Yao’s critics aren’t pulling their ammo out of thin air, and even his most loyal supporters have to admit Yao has his flaws and could/should be a lot better and more dominant. But enough of the negativity. Let’s focus on the positives. Let’s focus on the fact that — like it or not — Yao is the best true center in the world.
Going into ’08-09, Yao averaged at least 22 points and 9.4 rebounds for each of the past three seasons. Before injuries got in the way, he’d even been getting some MVP talk during that stretch. You’d have to be living on Planet NBA Jam to truly believe Dwight Howard is a better offensive player than Yao, whose array of jumpers, hooks, fadeaways, turnarounds and post moves trumps Dwight’s dunk-first, dunk-second, alley-oop-third repertoire. Yao’s numbers are slightly down this year, but look at the roster he’s playing with. Kevin Garnettt‘s numbers have dipped since Ray Allen and Paul Pierce came into his life, so naturally Yao’s will dip with T-Mac and Ron Artest in the picture.
After the most recent Yao vs. Howard matchup, a Rockets win on Nov. 22 where Yao put up 22 points and 13 boards to Dwight’s 13 and nine, Dwight told reporters, “He’s a tough guy to guard. He’s very gifted, he shoots the ball extremely well and that sets up everything else in his game. I learn a lot every time I play him.”
Howard then told the Orlando Sentinel that “nobody can block” Yao’s turnaround jumper “unless you’re 7-foot-8,” and in that same interview, called Yao, “A big beanstalk. You got to chop.”
Or maybe Sentinel writer Brian Schmitz put it best, describing Yao in print as, “The one human who can serve [Howard] a heaping helping of humble pie.”
It’s easy and in some ways understandable to not appreciate Yao Ming’s skills on the court, but know that his peers recognize game. And they, like you, should know that at the five, he’s the best in the business.
Who do you think is better?
“Who’s better?” archives
12/2 — Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony