LeBron's Blueprint for Picking Up Dwyane Wade's Slack This Season

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIDecember 5, 2012

Miami Heat's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade
Miami Heat's LeBron James and Dwyane WadeRobert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Dwyane Wade is averaging 19.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game for the Miami Heat this season as of Wednesday.

In his previous two seasons playing alongside LeBron James in Miami, Wade's averaged 24.2 points and 5.8 rebounds in 125 games.

With his numbers down almost five points and two rebounds per night, James has been picking up the slack for his teammate this season.

James has done so by posting a career-high 9.1 rebounds per game this year, a number up from an average of 7.7 over his previous two seasons in Miami.

He has also been able to pick up Wade's slack by matching a career-high from the field overall, along with shooting a career best from three-point range specifically.

More of LeBron's assists have led to three-point baskets this season too, helping to make the Heat more effective as a team overall while Wade's numbers have slipped.

James' improvement on the defensive glass has led to his career-high average in rebounds per game

As Wade's rebounding average has decreased by almost two per game, James has improved his average by almost that same amount.

He has done so by making more of an impact on the defensive glass specifically.

This begins with boxing out and fighting for defensive rebounding position, like he is against the Denver Nuggets earlier this season in the picture above. 

James is averaging 7.6 defensive rebounds per game this season as a result, which is up from 6.4 last year.

It is the biggest reason why he is picking up Wade's rebounding slack by improving himself to 9.2 per game overall.

LeBron continues to average a career-high in field goal percentage

LeBron averaged 53 percent from the field overall last season.

So far this season, he's again at 53 percent.

He's been able to match this career pace by continuing to shoot an average of 75 percent on shots attempted at the rim this season.

Last year he averaged 75.4 percent on 6.6 attempts. This season James is averaging 75.3 percent on 6.5 attempts.

In the video above, he is able to use his speed and athleticism to get out on the break and create these type of scoring opportunities that are simply unguardable.

This continues to take pressure off Wade by not forcing him to create offense himself as frequently as he used to.

James is shooting a career-high from three-point range too

James has gone 22-of-52 from three-point range on the season so far as of Wednesday.

That number is good for a three-point field goal percentage of over 42 percent. 

In order to pick up Wade's slack, James essentially introduced this as a new element of the Miami Heat's offensive attack this season.

Last season James shot 36 percent from three, the season before he shot 33. 

LeBron is also assisting on more three-point field goals this season

LeBron averaged 1.6 assists leading to three-point field goals per game last season.

The season before he averaged 1.9 assists on three-point baskets.

This year, as Wade's scoring numbers have dipped, James has improved that number to 2.4 assists leading to three-point field goals per game.

In doing so, he's making the players surrounding both he and Wade more effective.

In the video above, LeBron assisted on a critical three-point basket by Ray Allen that would eventually win the game over the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this season.