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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

LeBron or Kobe? In this case, it's not close

LeBron or Kobe?

The high-flying, 6-foot-8, 260-pound face of the league and corporate darling, or the reigning NBA MVP who owns the fourth quarter but not the public's trust?

We've seen the endless debates on "SportsCenter," "Around the Horn," "First Take" and any ESPN program I might be overlooking.

From a fantasy perspective, however, there is no need for a panel, back-and-forth shouting and/or Stephen A. Smith.

It's LeBron in a landslide.

And in this race, Kobe has to settle for being No. 3.

If you take nine of the most common fantasy categories -- field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, 3-pointers made, points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and turnovers -- James gets the best of Bryant in six of them.

Only three of the categories are even comparable -- Kobe's 51-48 edge in 3-pointers made and 2.93-3.13 advantage in turnovers, and LeBron's 27.6-27.0 scoring discrepancy.

James is a much better shooter (49.7 to 47.6 in field-goal percentage; remember, this is fantasy), rebounder (7.2 to 5.6), passer (6.6 to 5.1 in assists), thief (2.1 to 1.3 in steals) and shot-blocker (1.3 to 0.4). The only significant advantage Bryant has is his free-throw accuracy (85.8 to 77.7 percent).

In fact, James' best competition for top of the fantasy heap might come from Hornets point guard Chris Paul, who was drafted first overall in some leagues.

James has a 5-4 edge on Paul in the nine categories, winning points, rebounds, blocks, 3-pointers and field-goal percentage. Paul is the league's best in assists (11.1) and steals (2.7), and is better than James in turnovers (by .03) and free-throw percentage.

If you pit Paul and Bryant head-to-head, the Association's best point guard gets the better of the Lakers star in five of nine categories.

The halfway point of the NBA season won't stop Screaming A. and Skip Bayless from disagreeing. But we don't have to join in.

The better topic to discuss: Bryant or Dwyane Wade?

That one is much closer. Stay tuned for a future post.

Unless ESPN2 beats me to it.

Football notes: We'll complete our best-keeper series this week by ranking the best tight ends (maybe there was a better way to phrase that). Next week, we'll address reader responses to the LaDainian Tomlinson dilemma we discussed in a blog during the fantasy season.


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