Arron Afflalo and Wesley Matthews are two NBA shooting guards having career-best seasons. Afflalo is stuffing stat sheets for the Orlando Magic, averaging 21.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and four assists per game on sizzling 46.7 percent shooting from the floor and 43 percent shooting from three-point range. Matthews, meanwhile, is helping keep the Portland Trail Blazers near the top of the Western Conference, scoring 16.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game on a scorching 48.3 percent from beyond the arc and 52.9 percent shooting overall.
It should come as no surprise, then, that when it came time for ESPN to compare several of the league's shooting guards head-to-head, the Worldwide Leader selected Afflalo versus Matthews as one matchup for a panel of five writers to debate.
Somewhat surprisingly, three of the five writers selected the Trail Blazers swingman over Afflalo, though they all conceded, to a degree, that the pair are fairly evenly matched. "They're roughly equal rebounding and handling the ball, so I'll take Matthews' shooting over Afflalo's stronger ability as a secondary offensive initiator," writes Andrew Lynch of Hardwood Paroxysm.
Jared Dubin, Lynch's colleague at Hardwood Paroxysm, argued for Afflalo because of his "playmaking ability."
The first head-to-head matchup between Afflalo's Magic and Matthews' Trail Blazers is set for January 8th in Portland. The rematch in Orlando will take place on March 25th.
Afflalo changed his diet and workout routine over the summer so he could be more physically fit in his second season with the Magic, a subject he addressed at Media Day. Magic coach Jacque Vaughn believes Afflalo is more efficient in part because Vaughn has a better idea of how to use his strengths.
"I think I understand Arron better now," Vaughn said in November. "He understands his game and what makes it efficient for us as a team."