How Dwyane Wade Has Become Underrated

Sam RichmondCorrespondent IMarch 6, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 03: Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket against Jason Kidd #5 of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 3, 2013 in New York City.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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Prior to the 2012-13 NBA season, many wondered whether or not Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade was still a superstar.

With his play this season, Wade has emphatically proven his doubters wrong whether they admit it or not. The Heat are 44-14 and Wade is an integral part of the team, the clear No. 2. The notion of Wade being overrated seems preposterous at this point.

Still, he is receiving little credit for his team's success.

There are two reasons that explain how Wade has come to be underrated. Let's further explore them.


1. He isn't putting up flashy numbers

Wade is scoring 21.7 points per game this season, which would be his lowest average since his rookie season (2003-04). That type of scoring doesn't scream "superstar," but it also doesn't come even close to telling the full story about Wade's play this year.

Wade is scoring fewer points because he's shooting less. He's shooting less because he plays on a team that has capable bench-scorers along with two other offensive superstars.

That represents smart play from Wade. He's recognized what Miami needs him to be: less of a scorer and more of a facilitator. While assists aren't as flashy as points, Wade is averaging more per game than he ever has during the Big Three Era.

So while it looks like Wade isn't as big of a part of the offense as he used to be, he's still a major contributor. It's just come together in a different role. A role he's thriving in.

Also, the points-per-game statistic doesn't factor in how someone is getting those points. And Wade is getting his buckets very efficiently. He's shooting 52.0 percent from the field, which would be a career best by far.

Take a look at Wade's shot chart from the season. He's wisely attacking the basket and not forcing up three-pointers.

If Wade was on a lesser-talented team that needed him to score 25-plus points to win, he absolutely could be that go-to scorer. His 1.34 points per shot ranks fifth among all guards and tops Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony.

Wade has proven this season not only to be an elite scorer, but a great distributor as well. Watch the highlights from his performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 4 and that much is clear.

However, people love to look at points scored when determining the talent and impact of a player. Wade's credit for the Heat's play this season is suffering because of that.


2. LeBron James is his teammate

The Heat are LeBron James' team. As a superstar, James is going to get the lion's share of the credit when the Heat win and all the blame when they lose. That's just the way it is.

But LeBron isn't your average superstar. Right now he's playing the best basketball anyone's played since the days of Michael Jordan. What that brings is more attention and focus to King James.

And he absolutely deserves the praise he's receiving. He's leading the Heat in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and is the team's top defender. LeBron is without a doubt the primary reason the Heat are seven games ahead of every other team in the Eastern Conference right now.

But that shouldn't diminish Wade's contributions to Miami.

He might be the Robin to James' Batman, but Wade is the best Robin in the league.

Dwyane's 24.7 PER (player efficiency rating) is tied for fourth in the league behind only James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul.

Wade's playing to the level of a No. 1 option, but since he's in Miami that play isn't being recognized like it should.

Realistically, as long as James is in town, Wade will never get the credit he deserves. 

That's probably fine for Wade, because he is likely to win his third championship this season.

I'm sure some credit every now and then would be nice, though. After all, he's still a top-ten NBA player.

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