Who's More Important as Playoffs Progress: LeBron or Wade?

Joshua CarrollCorrespondent IIMay 23, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 12:  Dwyane Wade #3 and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat wait as a member of the Chicago Bulls shoots a free-throw at the United Center on April 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Heat 96-86 in overtime. 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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

By now I'm sure you've all heard both sides of the argument, who is more important to this Miami Heat team, LeBron or Wade?

A question that cannot easily be answered no matter how you look at it. This is not simply a case of looking at the numbers and coming to a consensus conclusion. This is likely to remain a debate for as long as the two play together, or maybe until Wade gets a little older.

However, we are talking about this year, in particular, the rest of the 2012 playoffs. Since Bosh's injury both players have proven to be pretty important with an increase in production able to be seen on both ends.

The common belief seems to be that LeBron is not only the best player on the Heat, but also the best player in the league, but does that make him anymore important than Mr. South Beach himself, Dwyane Wade? The answer may surprise you.

True, LeBron has been putting up video game-like numbers and continues to get it done on both ends of the floor. With Bosh out, he has been asked to bang inside a lot more and has the ball in his hands even more on the blocks and elbows. James has answered the call and responded with impressive performances over and over again.

As if LeBron didn't mean enough to the team already before Bosh went out, ever since his injury James has been asked to do it all, well almost...arguably more than any other player still playing today is asked to do. Yet, he hasn't complained once. Every time we think he's run out of gas or can't take it to another level, he does just that.

During the regular season when Wade sat out his fair share of games with injury, Bosh did step up and do more for the team, but it was LeBron who went into "Cleveland Mode" and dominated games from start to finish.

In capturing his third MVP, it only makes sense that James is the most important player for the Miami Heat as the playoffs progress, but surprisingly he is not.

Bosh or no Bosh, when are the Heat at their best? When Dwyane Wade is playing at the top of his game. When he's slashing, drawing fouls, defending, and of course, utilizing the backboard better than any other player in the game today.

It's as simple as this, at the end of the day you know LeBron James is going to do his thing, but his impressive numbers would not be accompanied by wins quite as often if Wade didn't show up and do what he does best: win. 

Wade is not only a proven winner, but also a leader who has been through the best and worst of times in the NBA. As the playoffs progress, there is one thing that becomes more important with each game: experience.

LeBron may be the better player, but as we saw in Cleveland, he can't do it alone, and neither can D-Wade. Needless to say, both of these players are extremely important to their team. But one does not have to look any farther than the Heat's current series to realize the importance of Wade as the Heat try to capture the championship.

Typically, big nights from Wade means a win for the Heat. Can't necessarily say the same for LeBron. Yet, Flash's importance stems far beyond statistics. The toughness, experience, and leadership he brings to the table are just a few of the intangible effects that occur as a result of D-Wade.

As the plot thickens and the race quickens to win it all, it's got to be Wade who steps up, takes responsibility, and leads the Miami Heat to a NBA championship, once again.