Dwyane Wade Is Proving Nobody Should Overlook Him
He was overlooked in the 2003 draft when the Detroit Pistons took Darko Milicic in front of him.
He was overlooked in the 2008-09 season, when he was one of just three players that year to have a Player Efficiency Rating of 30 plus, while compiling one of the best seasons in NBA history.
Now, in his 10th season in the league, two championships and a Finals MVP later, Wade is being overlooked again.
As quickly as people labeled him the pound-for-pound best player in the league, they are just as quickly speaking of his demise.
The discussion of Wade losing a step, being past his prime and no longer being an elite player is a scarily-prevalent early-season theme.
For a guy who was called the No. 1 shooting guard in the league and was expected to lead the Heat in the NBA Finals two years ago, "when LeBron James was too scared to," he has sure taken a sharp fall from grace in a very short period of time.
Now, a combination of age, injuries and semi-subpar early numbers have caused the basketball world to overlook Wade once again.
But, as time has shown, Wade thrives when people doubt him. Here is why Wade is proving nobody should overlook him.
Dwyane Wade Is a Rhythm Player
Dwyane Wade has always been a rhythm player. He is at his best when the game is flowing through him, allowing him to create his offense on his terms.
When teammates, specifically LeBron James, facilitate for him and get him into his spots, Wade does a much better job of finding his flow. He can obviously heat up at any time and be a one-man show, but he's most efficient and dominant when he paces himself.
Wade simply doesn't get comfortable when just chucking up jumpers until the shots start falling, but when he's poised and lets the game come to him, he is unguardable.
With LeBron James as the No. 1 guy now on the Miami Heat, it's difficult for Wade to consistently be in his comfort zone. However, the unselfish James is an excellent passer, who knows when he needs to get Wade going—and James knows just how to do it.
A lot of criticism regarding Wade's play this season has been centered around the fact that he underwent the third knee surgery of his career during the offseason, and that he began the year posting non-Wade-like numbers.
In a two-game stretch against New York and Denver in the opening week of the season, Wade posted just 14.5 points per game. That low output was a product of Wade not getting into his rhythm—not of any ill-effects from his surgery.
Sure, he needed time to test his knee's durability, but the low numbers were largely because he only had 22 combined field goal attempts in those games, while LeBron had 33 and Chris Bosh had 35 combined attempts, respectively.
Wade needs time to find his flow and get into his element during a game in order to unleash his array of elite abilities.
In three out of the Heat's six losses so far, Wade has attempted 11 or fewer shots. Overall, Wade's 14.7 field goal attempts per game this season are the lowest since his rookie year.
But before you say Wade is washed up or falling off, realize he is shooting nearly four less shots per game than his career average, while shooting a career-high 50.8 percent from the floor.
Wade's Played Much Better Lately
As much as people want to write Dwyane Wade off because of his less-than-stellar numbers to begin the season, he's been playing like the superstar we're accustomed to as of late.
Since Charles Barkley's well-documented comments on November 29 regarding Wade's decline, the Miami veteran has responded with a vengeance.
In the last seven games, the eight-time All-Star has averaged 21.4 points on 59 percent shooting, four assists and 1.3 steals per game. Indeed, Wade posted the best shooting game of his career last week in a victory over Atlanta, converting 11-of-13 shots for an immaculate 84.6 percent from the floor.
During that same span, he also had his highest scoring effort of the year (34 points), connected on 81 percent of his free throws and even buried three out of six shots from deep.
Wade has appeared to have discovered his groove and is not showing any ill-effects from his knee surgery. He is shooting great, finding his teammates, playing solid defense, getting to the line and showing more than enough flashes of his old attacking ways.
He had back-to-back 26-point efforts against New Orleans and Atlanta, where he shot a ridiculous 20-for-25. He has been looking quicker and more comfortable on his knees. Wade has been able to beat people with his first step much more in the last couple of weeks, and he has been punishing in the lane.
Wade keyed huge Heat victories over Brooklyn and Atlanta with his dominant offensive game, as well as his top-notch defense.
Overall, he's looked like vintage Wade in the majority of his games over the last two weeks, and it's becoming evident that the 2-guard's critics spoke too soon. Wade is now proving why fans shouldn't overlook him, as his all-around game has been on point recently.
Has Dwyane Wade declined?
He's Only 30
In response to those that point to Dwyane Wade's age as a factor in his decline, it's absurd to suggest that his being 30 years old means it's time for him to check in to the Sunny Hills retirement home. The fact is, there are plenty of great players who play well into their 30s.
Kobe Bryant is the NBA's leading scorer at 34 years old, and Paul Pierce is among the Top 10 in scoring at 35. Obviously, Bryant takes exceptional care of his body to maintain his elite status, but that doesn't mean Wade can't do the same.
And, while Wade needs to develop some other aspects of his game to remain a superstar, there is still plenty of time for him to do so.
People point to the fact that Wade's game has relied heavily on his outstanding ability to attack the basket, finish at the rim and use his athleticism to impose his will on opponents.
While some of his jumping ability and athleticism has decreased, Wade still has plenty of pop in his game, as well as a very high level of athleticism. He has showcased he can still dunk, maintain control over his body and throw down some highlight-reel jams.
There is no doubt that Wade has been inconsistent at times this year, but that is to be expected considering he didn't play much basketball over the summer while recovering from surgery.
Although 30 is considered old in the NBA, especially with teenagers playing in the league, Wade's advancing age should not fuel arguments that the potentially third-best shooting guard of all time is past his prime. Sure-fire Hall-of-Famers like Wade enjoy more than just 10 seasons in their prime.
While Wade certainly has endured some ugly games this season, making it easy to question his skill level, a few bad games does not justify the media going overboard about his "decline."
Wade's had some bad games, where he's looked sluggish and slow, but that shouldn't set the tone for his current status as a basketball player, especially with plenty of games left to be played.
Those that say the Heat are better off without Wade clearly don't know what they're talking about. Miami is 2-4 this season when Wade scores 15 points or less. The Heat need Wade's all-around capabilities to be the well-oiled machine that won a title last June.
Wade's not a 24-year-old kid who's going to be posterizing defenders left and right anymore, but make no mistake about it: Wade is still an assassin who can and will play at an elite level.
As Wade continues to reach his groove, put up big numbers and draw "oohs and ahhs," the star's critics will realize that they overlooked D-Wade once again.
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