Dwyane Wade: Why Injury-Prone Superstar Won't Survive Grueling Stretch Run

Ethan NorofCorrespondent IMarch 7, 2012

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 13:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat falls to the court with an injury in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on January 13, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. Wade left the game after the injury as the Nuggets defeated the Heat 117-104. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Dwyane Wade has never played in a full complement of regular season games at any point in his career.

An incredible player who has an immense amount of talent, there is no questioning Wade's skill set or what he brings to the table. Known as a player who isn't afraid to lay his body on the line, Wade has never played in more than 79 regular season games.

Wade has already missed nine games this season.

Miami has a palpable March schedule that will allow Wade to garner necessary rest in between games, but April is another story entirely.

In the first three weeks of April, Miami has 13 games in 21 days. That is a lot of basketball.

Let's consider the opposition during the critical juncture of the season: Boston, Memphis, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Chicago, New York, Washington, Toronto, New Jersey, Detroit and Charlotte.

That's not exactly a cakewalk.

With Chicago and Miami competing for the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the home-court advantage that comes with it, it's going to be imperative that Miami doesn't relent at any point.

In order for the Heat to cement the top seed, the team is going to need a healthy Wade.

He's dealt with headaches, ankle sprains and various bumps and bruises throughout the year, but the Heat will need him for the stretch run.

Can he be counted on to hold up? His track record doesn't support that notion.

He's playing in a career-low 32 minutes per game, but the extra rest hasn't prevented him from missing time.

This is a player who played in just 51 games in back-to-back seasons between 2006-2008, and many were ready to write him off as an injury-prone player who wouldn't live up to his potential.

Opposing teams are going to come gunning for the Heat, and Wade is going to be tested by guys looking to make a statement against him.

Wade needs to make a strong statement of his own. He needs to show that he's capable of being counted on every single night, because Miami is going to need major minutes from him.

If Wade's health is still a topic of discussion when April rolls around, there is no way he'll be able to make it through the rest of the season unscathed.

The NBA needs another warrior at the shooting guard position and Wade has the chance to be exactly that.

It's not going to be easy, but nothing that is worth anything ever comes easy.

That's what we need to see from Wade. That's what Wade needs to show the doubters.

A healthy Dwyane Wade is one we've yet to see for an entire season.