Breaking Down How LeBron James Allows Dwyane Wade to Thrive

David WeissCorrespondent IIIDecember 13, 2012

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 30:  (L) Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat, (C) Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat and (R) LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat look at their 2012 NBA Championship rings following a ring giving ceremony prior to the game against the Boston Celtics at American Airlines Arena on October 30, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) 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 Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The superstar tandem of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade isn't what you would call an ideal fit.

They both have a similar, ball-dominating style of play. Neither one can shoot particularly well from outside, thereby encouraging defenses to stay within the paint (hence, the lopsided ratio of three-point shooters to big men in their rotation).

They both are max-contract players in a league with an ever-shrinking spending limit, which inevitably means that their mutual chemistry has to compensate for their surrounding cast-mates. Finally, you'd have to guess that their mental edge as basketball players isn't quite as sharp when playing alongside another superstar. 

Yet, despite these issues, the Heat are the defending champions, have been to the NBA Finals for the past two years, play in a weaker conference that continues to dwindle in talent either due to injury or trade and have seemingly overcome every mental obstacle that stood in their way since uniting in 2010. 

Mind you, it took a few particular dominoes to fall in place before the Miami Heat really hit its stride, and chief among them was Wade's acknowledgement that the Miami Heat is now LeBron James' team. 

And, when Miami finally won a championship, Wade acknowledged that his decision to take a step back and ride the coattails of another superstar was predicated on the success Miami had when Shaq did the same with him in 2006. 

Then, we arrive at a crossroads as to how the sports world has regarded the trajectory of Wade's career in the past few years. 

Critics point to his decreasing field-goal percentage, fading athleticism and disappointing moments in last year's NBA playoffs as a platform to a player whose best is now behind him. 

Supporters, meanwhile, have managed to look at the bigger picture, citing that Wade's sacrifices have ultimately vindicated him time and again, first with better teammates, and now with a second ring on his hand. 

So how exactly has LeBron James allowed Dwyane Wade to thrive since his arrival? Here's a few reasons. 


1. Bringing Showtime to South Beach

LeBron James is arguably the most devastating one-man fast break that the NBA has ever seen. Often serving as the jump-start to most of Miami's full-court attacks, his rebounding numbers have increased with each passing year as a member of the Heat. 

Now, when you add an element like that to a guy who has affectionately earned the nickname of Flash, what you typically get is a lot of easy points for Wade and, well, this.


2. Carrying the load 

When Dwyane Wade was making a name for himself in the NBA, doctors were making a home for themselves via his medical bills. 

Much like Allen Iverson, Wade's skill set has primarily relied on attacking the rim with brute force and resiliency. 

However, now that he is older and his athleticism isn't what it used to be, having LeBron James allows Wade to work on his outside game without the pressure of having to score. 

As a result, his health can be preserved for more important moments in the season and he can make the modifications in his style of play that will enable his career to age as gracefully as Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. 


3. A perennial favorite to win it all. 

In the NBA, your legacy is only as big as your success. 

Reggie Miller, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson comprise some of the best shooting guards in the past ten years of the league. . 

And yet winning ultimately determines where you rank among the greats. 

Dwyane Wade already has two rings.

With the help of LeBron James, it would be generous to hypothesize he will win at least one more before he and James are free agents once again in 2014. 

As Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson acknowledged yesterday( via Slam Online), Wade is the third best shooting guard of all-time behind M.J. and Kobe. 

I would go a step further and say he has a chance to be second. 

Keep in mind that, in the 14 years Kobe Bryant played alongside either Shaq or Pau Gasol, he finished with five rings.

Comparatively, in the 5.5 seasons that Wade has played alongside either Shaq or LeBron James, he has won two rings. 

Now, I'm not going to say that Wade is a better individual player than Kobe because he's not. But, if you want to argue who the better team player is, you can definitely make a stronger case for Wade. 

And whether or not you want to entertain this argument now or further on into the future, it will primarily be because of LeBron James that the debate on the second best shooting guard of all time will ultimately carry more steam than the debate on who the best shooting guard of all time is.