Dwyane Wade Having the Quietest Superstar Season in Recent Memory
Aside from his affinity for questionable nicknames, Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade hasn't missed a beat this season. The 31-year-old Wade is shooting a career-best 51.6 percent from the floor while averaging 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.
So how, exactly, have Wade and his stellar numbers been able to fly under the radar relatively unnoticed?
The answer, of course, is LeBron James. Being one of only five players in the league to average 20.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 4.0 APG is a remarkable achievement for Wade, but it's slightly less so since his teammate also happens to be on that exclusive list. Wade has the sixth-best player efficiency rating in the NBA (24.32) but ranks second on his own team thanks to James' mind-blowing 31.94 PER.
The most telling/impressive stat? Wade is averaging just 16.1 field-goal attempts per game, his lowest average since his rookie season. "He's having a career year efficiency-wise," said Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra in an interview with Ethan Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post.
Wade has only begun to receive the requisite attention for his standout campaign as a result the Heat's current 12-game winning streak. James is still the focus of any and all highlight packages (and rightly so), but his running mate has enjoyed a nice little stretch of his own.
Three days after going off for 33 points (on 14-for-18 shooting) against the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 23, Wade came back with 39 points (on 19-for-28 shooting), eight rebounds and seven assists in a double-overtime win against the Sacramento Kings.
Not bad for a player who had to miss the London Olympics due to an ailing left knee. Three months after a lackluster November by his standards (17.1 PPG on 46.6 percent shooting, 4.8 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.2 SPG), Wade's run in February was worthy of Player of the Month consideration: 23.9 PPG on 53.2 percent shooting, 5.5 APG, 6.2 RPG, 2.5 SPG and 1.3 BPG.
Said Spoelstra (per the Florida Sun-Sentinel): "It's symbolic of how he's playing the season. He's getting stronger as the season is going on."
Wade is currently ranked in the top 10 in both free throws made and attempted this year—a clear sign that he has fully recovered from offseason surgery. If he wasn't anywhere close to 100 percent, Wade likely would have resigned himself to take more jump shots, thus making it more difficult for him to draw fouls.
Instead, thanks to a healthy knee, a quick first step and superb body control, the nine-time All-Star has shown that he has few peers when it comes to attacking the basket. According to HoopData, Wade has converted 73.6 percent of the shots that he has taken at the rim this season.
In a recent interview with Shandel Richardson of the Florida Sun-Sentinel, Wade said, "We talked about all summer that February would be the time kind of when I would start feeling very well. Now, it's just about taking care of your bumps and bruises."
If Wade can, in fact, manage those bumps and bruises for the next two months, he'll make a strong case for first-team All-NBA honors. That would be an exceptionally loud statement from a man who has had one of the quietest superstar seasons in recent memory.
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