At the age of 30, it's no secret that Dwyane Wade is on the back end of his prime. With the never-ending injuries and hard bumps accumulating, now would be the time to hit the brakes and alter his approach to the game.
Wade is unquestionably still an elite player in the NBA. He shows blazing quickness and is always one of the hardest workers on the floor.
The flashy shooting guard is also one of the better defenders around. He has a knack for creating turnovers and has always been an overachieving rebounder based on size.
However, Father Time will always take a toll on a player as his career progresses. That doesn't exactly mean Wade can't make adjustments to prolong his historic run.
Wade has the tools and ability needed to be a top player for quite some time. Even if his best attributes continue to deteriorate, you can never count him out as a guy who can make a major impact in a game.
Let's check out just what he can do to extend his full productivity in the upcoming years.
Dwyane Wade is a player who relies heavily on his great athleticism and quickness. At his age, those two things are bound to slowly decline over time.
Working on his jump shot will give him that extra option, instead of driving to the paint for contact points. Wade did show some improvement last season in the 10-15 foot range, shooting 43 percent, but he's never had great consistency.
To look at it another way, Wade took 6.7 shots per game last year right at the rim. That is actually a tad bit higher than steamrolling teammate LeBron James.
The difference is James has never had a history of injuries. Throw in the logic of his hulk-like size and there is plenty of merit for why LeBron should attack the basket.
As for Wade, he must work on hitting shots from outside of the paint. This is also a good way to continue spreading the floor and create attacking options for Miami.
There is no doubt Wade can still dominate around the basket; however, he will not have the same explosiveness for much longer.
Wade has averaged 8.9 free-throw attempts for his career, which is much higher than the average shooting guard. Taking that into consideration, one has to wonder just how long he can keep taking the constant hard hits.
Wade greatly benefits from playing with LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Not only does this allow him to play with top-notch players, but it also gives him the option of decreasing his role on a winning team.
The one thing that's always been blown out of proportion with this Heat team is who plays the role of Batman and Robin. In all honesty, superhero comparisons are totally irrelevant in the basketball world.
Ok, Skip Bayless?
Miami has plenty of options when it comes to who can play first fiddle nightly. Besides the obvious big three, it wouldn't be surprising to see Ray Allen and even Mario Chalmers lead the charge at times.
Wade doesn't need to be outstanding every night. Consistency throughout the playoffs is crucial, yet he does have a rather deep roster to show him support along the way.
Let's not forget that he is playing with the NBA's best player and reigning MVP.
Also, it has to be mentioned that Chris Bosh is highly important to this team. He provides a sizable scorer who can blow by slower defenders at his position. Giving him a bigger role in the 2012-13 season could make a difference in just what Wade must do for Miami.
Together, this is certainly a dangerous unit. They must spread the production and utilize every important player throughout the season in order to repeat as NBA champions.
That means relying less on Wade during the season until playoff time.
With such a solid group of guards, the Miami Heat can allow Wade to get more rest during the regular season—especially with the addition of Ray Allen, who will be a vital backup at the shooting guard position.
Consider this: Without the Chicago Bulls at full strength, Miami could have an easy road to securing the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Even if the Heat finish second or third, they have proven that a home-court advantage isn't necessary for them to win a championship.
In fact, remember that Miami lost to the Dallas Mavericks as the higher seed, but were able to knock off Oklahoma City last year as the team with the worse record.
With that being said, what's the point in giving Wade heavy minutes next season?
After playing 33.2 minutes a game last season, the lowest in his career, it wouldn't be shocking to see him play less next season. Keeping him healthy and fresh for the playoffs should be a top priority for head coach Erik Spoelstra and the Heat organization.
Besides his athleticism, Wade is widely known as an extremely intelligent basketball player. With his ability to create highlight plays, he constantly remains a threat at any time.
Whether it's throwing a long lead pass to an open player down court or doing simple things like adjusting defensively, Wade has never had problems making an impact in a game. Even if his physical ability is slowly fading, relying on his mental game is key to being fully effective.
Above all else, his IQ and leadership increase the productivity of LeBron. Putting his full trust into the forward helps erase any question as to how mentally fragile James can be.
Great players succeed so long for many reasons besides pure talent. Being smart, crafty and a great leader can end up making a bigger mark on a team more than anything.
Wade has that special ability, so look for him to be more than just a statistical superstar over the remainder of his career.
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