Commentary

Can D-Wade catch LeBron?

The King is No. 1 in ESPN's player rankings, but Wade could pass him next season

Updated: October 18, 2011, 7:15 PM ET
By David Thorpe | ESPN Insider
James/WadeRonald Martinez/Getty ImagesBy the end of next season, the gap between LeBron and Wade could be a lot smaller.

Answering the question of "Who is the best player in the NBA?" is not as easy as you'd think. And that's not just because there exists a solid handful of super-elite players in the league right now. It's really more of a question of, "What kind of parameters are we considering?" Are we talking about the best player of the regular season, the best of the postseason or some kind of hybrid?

For ESPN.com's #NBArank project, we were simply asked to rate each player. Period. It was up to us to weigh the scale of regular season versus postseason. Almost every metric invented, and the majority of experts, suggest that LeBron James reigns supreme, and that was reflected in the voting, as James finished No. 1.

I agree with this, but it's also true that as recently as a few seasons ago, I thought Dwyane Wade was the world's best player. All of this got me to thinking: Assuming there is a season this year and ESPN ranks every player again next summer, can Wade pass James and push his way to the top of the list?

To me, the answer is yes. Here's how he'll do it: