Done with the commercials, advertisements, and photo shoots, Dwayne Wade has come to the 2008-2009 NBA season ready to play basketball.
And he’s doing it at a higher level than anyone else in the league this right now as the season reaches it’s midway point. Leading the league in scoring at 28.9 points per game while also averaging 4.9 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game, Charles Barkley and T-Mobile have taken a back seat to the hard work and determination that got Wade those endorsement deals in the first place and he is back to the Dwyane Wade that America fell in love with during the 2006 NBA Finals.
Yeah, remember that performance? The one that ESPN.com ranked as the best finals performance of all-time? He had an astounding 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game, and after the Dallas Mavericks jumped out to a 2-0 series lead Wade put the Miami Heat franchise on his back and ran off four straight victories to end the series in six.
Well, he’s turning that finals performance into a whole season full of highlights this year. Filling up the entire stat sheet every night the Heat have a game, Wade has been for more “valuable” to his team this year than any other one player. LeBron James is a close second because of the Cleveland Cavaliers' great start, and where would Cleveland be without LeBron, but everyone knows where Miami would be if it wasn’t for Wade. Dead last.
It happened just last year when Wade missed the majority of the season due to injury and Miami won a league worst 19 games. But with a healthy Dwayne Wade back this year, fresh off an Olympic gold medal performance in Beijing over the summer, the Heat are 24-19 already improving on their record from last year with the season only half over. And Wade has made all the difference.
Motivated by the critics and skeptics (myself included) who said he had lost something about him and had started to go soft, Wade’s playing harder than ever to prove every doubter wrong. The Olympic experience really seemed to help out as well, not just for Wade but for everyone who played on the team, as each member of Team USA has come playing at a very high level this season. When you get a chance to play with 12 of the best basketball players in the world you are bound to pick up something that’s going to be of value to your performance on and off the court, and each member of the national team roster definitely did just that, bringing Wade back to his old ways.
He has great footwork when driving to the basket and his shooting range continues to improve as he gains more experience. But along with his tremendous offensive skills, it’s everything else that Wade does that separates him from the rest of the league. It’s the assists, rebounds, steals, and blocked shots that make Wade the most valuable player at the mid-season point, as the MVP award means most valuable player to his team. And everything other than scoring that Wade does is most important to the Heat.
One article showed a chart that measured the amount of the team's points that a player creates and saves as a result of their offensive and defensive skills, and it measures Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant as arguably the three best players in the league. Wade's percentage of points created, which is a combination of points and assists, was 44.8 percent, besting LeBron’s 40.2 percent and Kobe’s 33.6 percent. And his percentage of points saved, a combination of steals and blocks, was 5.9, also better than LeBron and Kobe at 4.9 and 2.5 respectively, showing that he is helping his team out more than any other in the league this year.
“Flash” is back this season and Dwyane Wade continues to prove it with each passing game. One highlight this season showed Wade in the fourth quarter against the Charlotte Bobcats splitting two defenders at the top of the key by cutting between them, driving down the lane hard, and as Emeka Okafor stepped up to block his shot, Wade exploded to the rim for a thunderous dunk over the outstretched hand of Okafor.
Each time Wade steps to the free throw line the Miami fans chant, “M-V-P! M-V-P!,” and if he continues to play at this level Dwyane Wade will get a trophy at the end of the season that says the same thing.