There’s nothing better than a good debate we’ll never get an answer to. This one features who would be the victor of a hypothetical one-on-one battle between Dwight Howard and LeBron James.
The somewhat depressing thing is that this hypothetical battle need not be hypothetical at all…both players are in their prime and could easily pit themselves against one another in a pay-per-view event. While Howard and James might not be quite the draw that a James vs. Kobe Bryant battle would be, plenty of people would pay to watch.
Pratith Metha of Hardwood Houdini and myself have taken different stances on who would win this needlessly mythical battle of NBA greats. We’ll begin with Metha’s take on the matter then move on to mine, and let you comment with your own conclusion on the possible outcome of a one-on-one battle between Howard and James; a game to 11 by ones, with the typical rules of one-on-one, including the fact that players can’t foul out nor send their opponent to the line to capitalize on fouls. We’ve not taken into consideration whether it would be “make it, take it” or not, but feel free to discuss if you feel that could play a role in the battle.
Pratith Mehta‘s take:
Thou hast been challenged to a analytical competition featuring the noblest of knights:
One on corner we have a man who spends his time sitting on a chair playing Call of Duty, while in the other corner we have a jet setter who happens to actually play basketball in his free time. I’m not saying Dwight Howard is lazy (Who doesn’t love a great video game?), but he lacks the respect to truly equate his game to the greats.
I hope, as a fan, he can take away knowledge from the previous Laker greats…
Howard definitely holds the shot blocking advantage. He will pile up a lot of blocked shots and will be quicker at rebounds. However, I think with someone who is equally a freak of nature as Dwight Howard, LeBron James will be one of the tougher challenges for Dwight Howard when he is in the paint. He will be roughed up and LeBron is 10x better than Jason Collins. Jason Collins was signed solely has a Dwight Howard stopper, I honestly have no idea why.
If Collins is a stopper, LeBron will be a devastating defender which could leave Dwight having bruises and bumps rather than the mere flopping and talent of taking up space that Jason Collins demonstrates.
LeBron is a much better shooter than Dwight Howard and his release is very high and won’t be as easy for Dwight Howard to get a hand on it.
I believe with the lack of dribbling ability of Dwight Howard, who often dribbles the ball at a very high altitude, it would be difficult to come close enough to the basket to perform his patented running hook shoot which supplies most of his offensive game. With that in mind, LeBron has dramatically improved his interior game and will have an easier time getting by Dwight compared to Dwight getting past LeBron. To reiterate, LeBron James is more built for a one on one game compared to Dwight Howard.
Final Score: James 11, Howard 6.
Dwight Argument: His length and leaping ability are going to change a lot of LBJ shots. Because it is a game to 11, it only results in LeBron getting the ball back if Dwight fouls him. Dwight doesn’t have to worry about foul trouble, and he can get as aggressive as he wants in contesting LeBron defensively. Dwight can also lay back on LeBron and force jumpers, unless James gets hot, in which case he’s going to have a bigger challenge.
Offensively, LBJ is going to have trouble covering Dwight’s go-to move, the running hook across the paint. Even when defenders his size know it’s coming, it’s still impossible to block, and he hits it at a high percentage. Posting up, LBJ has the strength to keep Howard from catching it too deep, but Howard’s drop step only has to get him close enough to the hoop to make a layup attempt possible. If he misses, it’s getting tipped in. His second jump is the best since Dennis Rodman.
Howard won’t have anyone feeding it to him in the post, so he is going to have to get the ball there to begin with. That may require the stipulation of allowing a passer to facilitate it as though it is a drill. This is a fair concession since we’re pitting a perimeter player against a post player.
Overall, LBJ’s strengths will be cancelled by the biggest and best defender in the NBA. Howard won three time defensive player of the year because he is the best defender, not because he blocked the most shots. He has a lot more lateral speed than people would assume to cover LBJ in face-up situations, so I think the whole “LeBron would blow right by him argument” holds a lot less merit than one may think.
Final Score: Howard 11, James 9.