How LeBron James Is Making Life Easier for Dwyane Wade
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
While some pundits predicted Wade's decline in 2012-13, he is instead enjoying a rebirth in his third season alongside James. He may not play with the same explosion he did in 2006, for example, but Wade has transitioned into his 30s by shooting better than he ever has from the field.
The attention that James commands defensively—along with his elite abilities as a playmaker—has helped create easier looks at the rim than Wade's been afforded in previous years.
This has also led to an on-court chemistry among James, Wade and Chris Bosh specifically that is allowing the Big Three to thrive in the clutch now more than ever.
James' dominance is helping Wade keep his body fresh for the playoffs as well, while making life easier off the court as the Heat continue to make history on it.
LeBron James has helped Dwyane Wade shoot better than ever from the field
Dwyane Wade's shooting percentage has trended upward ever since joining forces with LeBron James in 2010.
As illustrated by the chart above, Wade has posted the three best field-goal percentages of his career at 50, 49.7 and now 51.9 percent in each of the last three seasons, respectively.
The 51.9 mark in 2012-13 also represents a career high for Wade.
As defenses shift their alignment in response to the reigning MVP, they have only made Wade more dangerous. He has capitalized on those opportunities enough to average 21.5 points through Monday.
James has used his playmaking ability to create easy opportunities for Wade
According to Hoopdata.com, Dwyane Wade is shooting 75 percent on 6.1 attempts per game at the rim in 2012-13. That number is eight points better than the 67 percent that Wade shot just prior to James' arrival.
He is finding easier looks this season specifically because of James' ability as a playmaker.
The 7.3 assists he's averaging through Monday represent the highest total for James since joining the Miami Heat, along with the second-highest mark of his career overall.
On this play against the Memphis Grizzlies, for example, James created an easy attempt at the rim for Wade by dropping in a full-court pass that few around the league are able to make.
A developed understanding of how the Big Three could all thrive in the clutch
One of the biggest distractions for the Miami Heat in 2010 was answering the question of who needs the basketball in crunch time.
This season, however—buried beneath the headlines of winning streaks and MVPs—is that all three members of the Big Three are excelling in the clutch.
James' dominance has led to open looks for both Wade and Bosh during the critical moments of the game. Wade has responded by knocking down 50 percent of those crunch-time opportunities while Bosh has converted 78.8.
This chemistry that James and company have developed has not only helped Miami win games—while leading the league as a team in clutch field-goal percentage—but also eliminated those same questions that surfaced on heavy rotation just a short time ago.
James is allowing Wade to keep his body fresh for the postseason while the Heat keep making history
Dwyane Wade is listed as day-to-day. Mike Miller will start in his place tonight.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 24, 2013
While scoring 21.3 points during the month of March, Wade has eclipsed his season average in assists, rebounds and steals by posting six, 5.2 and 2.4, respectively.
He has helped the Heat close in on the NBA's all-time winning streak in the process, and expects to factor in extending that streak down the stretch.
In the meantime, though—as evidenced by Wade resting his sore knee on Sunday night—James allowed Miami to win its 26th game in a row on the strength of 32 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
When Wade does return, he will be that much healthier and his team will be even more dangerous as a result.
James has helped to eliminate pressure for Wade off the court in 2012-13 as well
The top NBA narrative of the day will always be about LeBron James.
To an extent, this has relieved Wade of media duties and obligations he would have otherwise had as the lone superstar representing the Miami Heat.
More importantly, though, Wade's ability to thrive alongside James this season specifically has worked to eliminate off-court pressure as well.
The suggestions of his decline become more difficult to support when James is helping Wade shoot 75 percent on shots at the rim, for example.
The fact that his team is also thriving in the clutch—and winning at a historical pace—has made this a much more enjoyable ride for Wade and the rest of his teammates as well.
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