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Breaking Down What Dwyane Wade's Knee Problems Mean for Miami Heat's Future

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 14:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat looks on in the first half while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Two of the 2012 NBA Finals at Chesapeake Energy Arena on June 14, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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)
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Peter EmerickSenior Writer IIOctober 8, 2012

On July 9, 2012, Dwyane Wade underwent knee surgery to have his knee scoped (via espn.com)

Fortunately doctors didn't find anything unexpected during the surgery. But that doesn't mean that Wade's knee is back to full health.

During the first week of training camp, Wade has fully participated in every practice—as reported by ESPN.com—which, in some respects, is great news. It shows that he's close to, if not at, 100 percent. But at the same time it makes fans wonder if it's a little too early for Wade to be back playing at full speed.

The fact that the health of Wade's knees are even being discussed points supports the notion that the focus of the 2012-13 season for the Miami Heat will once again be on LeBron James

Despite his strength and powerful physique, Wade has still seen his career signficantly impacted by injuries.

Last season, Wade missed 17 regular season games—which accounted for 25.7 percent of the entire regular season. The 2011-12 season wasn't the exception to the rule, though.

Out of a possible 722 career regular season games, Wade has played in 596 of them, which is about 79.8 percent.

To put that into perspective, James—who entered the NBA the same year as Wade—has played in 689 of a 722 possible regular season games (95.4 percent).

The point of these numbers is to show the fact that Wade's durability is one of his greatest weaknesses. Nagging injuries—including multiple ones to his knees and shoulders—have derailed his career somewhat over the past nine years.

His current knee situation could do the same, and if Wade's knee injuries do resurface this season, it will mean that LeBron will once again have to take control of the team and be its fearless leader, as he was last season.

The way that Wade approaches the game leads to a lot of wear and tear on his body. He's constantly getting into the paint and creating contact around the rim. That physical style of play takes its toll, and with Wade's knees already being in "rehab mode", Miami head coack Erik Spoelstra could be compelled to sit Wade for stretches this year to keep him fresh for the 2013 playoffs.

Luckily, the Heat signed a prolific shooting guard this offseason in Ray Allen, who is more than capable spelling Wade for long stretches.

Wade and Allen are very different players, at different points in their careers. Where Wade slashes into the paint, creating offense for teammates or high-percentage shots for himself, Allen prefers to stay on the perimeter and knock down long-range jumpers. 

With LeBron controlling the flow of the Heat's offense, switching between Allen and Wade at the shooting guard position will be a seamless transition. It will also give LeBron an even better chance to showcase his leadership.

While the health of Wade's knees may be in question, the overall success of the Heat won't be in doubt this season thanks to their decision to back up Wade with a 10-time NBA All-Star who also happens to be the league's all-time leader in three-pointers made.

The Heat will excel during the regular season with or without Wade, just like they did last season, going 14-3 without Wade in the lineup. It's more important for the Heat to make sure that Wade is 100 percent healthy for the playoffs, and that means controlling his minutes during the regular season. 

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