Miami Heat: Why Dwyane Wade Is the Perfect Complement to LeBron James

John Friel@@JohnFtheheatgodAnalyst ISeptember 9, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21:  (L-R) LeBron James #6 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat celebrate late in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Miami Heat don't have the prototypical roster you'd expect from your common, everyday NBA champion.

There isn't one star nor a post player who can consistently play with his back to the basket, which was believed to be the set blueprint to winning a title. Organizations would have their franchise asset, at least one All-Star complementing him, a solid post threat and several reliable threats on the bench who could prove their worth on either side of the ball depending on their specialties.

What you get out of the Heat, instead, are a number of stars, the best post players on the team standing at 6'4" and 6'8" and extremely inconsistent offensive support from the bench; although that may change with Ray Allen now on the team.

There's never been a team constructed in this manner. I'm not speaking of the "Big Three" experiment, either. It's already been recognized that the 2008 Boston Celtics came up with the original blueprint, but they didn't perform the same task of bringing in several superstars that were already in their primes.

While it may seem that the Heat have a definitive advantage because of those facts, it turns out that it's only made it more difficult, since the Celtics' "Big Three" had the advantage of having the three players being long-time NBA veterans and being able to carve out set niches in the system. Miami ran into a problem because their two best players—LeBron James and Dwyane Wade—had extremely similar playing styles and needed to find new ways to score.

Naturally, wires were crossed and the ball would stick at the top of the perimeter far too frequently. Because that's what tends to happen when you have two superstars at the top of their games, with similar playing styles, in the same lineup.

Outside of Wade's short tenure with Shaquille O'Neal, who hit the downside of his career following their championship, the two had seldom experience playing with superstars, including James, whose only All-Star teammates were Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Mo Williams. It was going to take far more than a few games to become compatible, but they eventually became excellent teammates because they cracked the code to making this whole thing work.

This whole thing worked out because Dwyane Wade is the perfect complement to LeBron James in the Miami Heat's system. If Wade isn't a part of this—and willing to make the necessary sacrifices for James to thrive—then the Heat aren't winning an NBA championship, nor are they representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals twice.

Wade relinquishing the reins of this Heat team to James is just one of the reasons as to why he is a perfect teammate to LeBron. If this thing was going to work out, either LeBron or Dwyane would have to step down and allow the other to lead the way. As ideal as it would be to have those two playing at their best and chalking up 30 points per game, it's impossible to work like that with so many other options and the nature of the defense to key in on the offense's top threats.

If you go to any eight-year superstar and tell them, "We know you've been the face of the franchise for eight years, have brought us a title and relevancy to South Beach, but do you mind letting the new guy take over the team for the rest of your career? Thanks," the chances are high that that player will instantly demand a trade.

Luckily for the Heat, they had a superstar who was humble enough—and also happened to be close friends with LeBron—to allow James to be the focal point of the offense. That was a huge step in the right direction for the Heat because it did allow LeBron James to play more comfortably and to play with the confidence that comes from playing comfortably. Wade recognized that the team is at its best when James is running the show, thus why LeBron is leading the way.

Wade backing off has allowed himself and LeBron to find better niches, where they find less wires getting crossed and less mistakes being made. Their PERs reflect the improvement from their first year to their second year together in their games as a result—Wade improving from 25.6 to 26.3 and James moving up considerably from 27.3 to 30.7.

It's the highest PER James has recorded since his final year with Cleveland, when he won MVP and led his team to 66 wins.

The two now have an amicable understanding for each other's games and it's what led the Heat to winning a 2012 championship, and why they're set up to become a dynasty over the next five years—because their two superstars are working together with perfect fluidity and recognizing what it takes to win games.

Obviously, it takes far more than just backing off and letting LeBron be the main aggressor to make this work. Even though Wade has found his role regressed, there's still the issue of these two actually playing together and working off each other. Both players possess inconsistent jumpers that have hovered near 40 percent for their careers, as well as primarily using the drive as their strongest asset.

Plus, these two have also thrived their entire careers off of having the ball in their hands. Sure, both players haven't played as a starting point guard, with the exception of LeBron's rookie year, but they've established their career's as ball-handlers who are at their best when they have the ball and are creating scoring situations.

They would run into problems at first, but the potential of how potent and dynamic they could be together pushed them to continue making the adjustments that would vault them to the heights they wanted to reach.

Once again, Wade being the caliber of who he is played a heavy part in the Heat becoming champions, and it's why he has become so compatible playing with LeBron. Being the superstar he is pushed himself and LeBron to making this thing work because they know the potential of how incredible they could have been if they made it work.

How they work together on the court all stems from how much each player is willing to give up and adjust. LeBron and Dwyane were able to make this work because they knew how good they could potentially become, if one of them took a step back—Wade being the casualty of that debate.

Nowadays, Dwyane is the one that's playing the role of a second option on the Miami Heat. Although, it seems unfair to consider him as such when he could just as easily be a first option any other night, and the same goes for Chris Bosh. It's unfair to label these three players when we all know how each player could just as easily explode for 30 points any given night.

To make this whole thing work on the court is a completely different deal. The first year was the experimentation stage, featuring the two attempting to play off each other, but mostly taking turns. The taking-turns method was the worst thing they could have done because it basically eliminates one of your two best players on the floor.

It wasn't until this past season where the two finally began to run some consistent plays that proved positive, including the backdoor cut each player runs which seemingly has a 100 percent effective rate by my poor estimation. It works more times than not and it has one of the two moving without the ball and scoring in a high-percentage area.

And when you're getting your two best players working together and receiving the ball in high-percentage areas? You've mastered the game of team basketball. That's the primary objective of every team, and the Heat have the majority of it sorted of. Of course there's always more to improve on, but they've come a long way since scoring eight points in their very first quarter, and it shows just how committed they are to making this right.

Also, once you get these two into the fast break, defenses may as well give up two points. These two fit perfectly together because they're two of the NBA's most athletic and quickest players in the game, with excellent tendencies and capabilities when it comes to playing in the open court. With the Heat wanting to push the tempo of the game at all times, a team couldn't ask for anything more than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

On the court, their game's speak for themselves. They've made the adjustments to make things work, and Dwyane Wade now finds himself as a perfect complement to LeBron, because he's taken the initiative to step back and let James do his thing, as well as showcasing the same drive, ambition and determination both players share as key attributes.