Why Dwyane Wade Is Poised for a Monster Bounce-Back Season

Peter Emerick@@peteremerickSenior Writer IIOctober 14, 2013

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 30:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat poses for a photo during media day on September 30, 2013 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. 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 Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The 2013-14 season just may be the most important for Dwyane Wade and the legacy he plans on leaving once he steps away from the NBA

Sure, he's won back-to-back titles with South Beach buddy LeBron James, but his on-the-court production took a hit last season during the Miami Heat's postseason run.

He averaged 21.2 points, 5.1 assists and five rebounds per game last year during the regular season, not to mention he shot an impressive 52.1 percent from the field as well. 

During the postseason, though, Wade was a different player, averaging just 15.9 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting from the field. That steep decrease in production was in large part due to Wade's overall health, but it's certainly at the foundation for Wade needing to put up impressive numbers this season.

Recently, Wade has struggled to stay healthy, he's taken a back seat to LeBron and he's even starting to take shots from other NBA superstars. Insert the shot heard round the world from Kevin Durant.

Jun 14 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA;  Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) post up against Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the first quarter of game two in the 2012 NBA Finals at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Cre
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Durant's opinion is certainly valid and yet a little absurd because of just how dominant Wade has been over the past decade.

Needless to say, Wade has a lot on the line this season. The first thing being the player year option that is coming up in LeBron's contract with the Heat.

Jun 20, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (left) and shooting guard Dwyane Wade (right) celebrate after defeating the San Antonio Spurs in game seven in the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena. Miami Heat won 95-88 to win
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports


LeBron's Looming Player Option Year of His Contract

This may seem nonsensical since Dwyane Wade is Dwyane Wade, but he's reaching the point of his career where retaining elite talent around him is critical to his success.

Every NBA fan knows that LeBron can decide to take his talents anywhere he wants to next year, or even open up another year of "recruitment" by opting out of his contract with the Heat.

Wade must show his value to LeBron, thereby enticing him to not opt out of his contract, because honestly, there are a few places LeBron could go to find more youthful talent—yep, Cleveland and Kyrie Irving, we're looking at you.

Feb 24, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (left) looks over at Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (right) as Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott (center) looks on during the second half at the American Airlines A
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With his production and play this year, Wade needs to show LeBron that he would be a fool to leave Miami and the chemistry they've developed. 

It will be a tough task for Wade, but it's certainly a major motivator for him this season. Every game that Wade plays should be another reason for LeBron to stay in South Beach.


Making Kevin Durant and Any Other Doubters Eat Their Words

The last thing Durant needed to do this offseason was spark a fire under Wade.

When Durant basically told Wade to step aside and let James Harden have his spot in the top 10 players in the league, he gave Wade another reason to make this year the best of his career.

May 18, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) speaks with guard James Harden (13) against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of game three of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It's not okay for Wade to just play decently and win another title behind LeBron's continued dominance. He needs to not only push everyone around him to be better, but he needs to compete with LeBron for the top spot on the team.

What better way to shut Durant and any other critic up than to vie for not only the top spot on the Heat, but also the top spot in the entire league.

Yes, I think it's totally feasible for Wade to be so efficient and productive that the Heat have two MVP candidates by the time this season comes to an end.

If Wade is truly as healthy as all of the reports have indicated, then there is no reason for Wade to take a step back in production again this season.

What better way to show Durant wrong than to beat him out in MVP voting at the end of the year, or maybe even beat him out for a shot at the 2014 scoring title—okay, that's a bit far, but you see where I'm going.

Jun 19, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade during practice before game seven of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport


Wade's Talents Aren't Getting Any Cheaper

Wade isn't technically in a "contract year" because although next season is a player option year, he's the one calling the shots on if he'll stay in Miami or not.

Even if Wade puts up 40 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists per game, it's hard to imagine Wade opting out of his contract that has him earning $20 million to play in the place he's called home for the past 10 years.

What is important, though, is that Wade's talents are only going to cost the Heat more and more money ever year he stays on their payroll—earning $21.5 million during the final year of his contract.

The last thing Wade needs is for there to be trade chatter because he's not putting up production that is warranting $20 million per year. If he wants to be reminded of that, he just needs to talk to Chris Bosh, the highest-paid non-center center in the NBA.

The Heat have a lot invested in Wade, and rightfully so, but he needs to carry his weight of the deal and be the top-five player we all know he can be.

The 2013-14 season is a big one for Wade and his legacy. When another NBA superstar calls you out, it's time to put up or shut up, and I'm guessing that Wade is ready to put up and make Durant do the "shut up" portion of that phrase.  


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