PLANTATION, FLA. -- It is the giving season, and Dwyane Wade did plenty of that off the court over the weekend.
"We do everything in threes, in my foundation, and in my life, and in my work," Wade told a crowd of selected families Sunday afternoon, in a private room at a Publix, as he gave them $500 grocery store gift cards and $500 Visa gift cards. "So I got one more surprise for you guys, but I'm not telling you guys right now."
That turned out to be a cavalcade of luxury cars that arrived with gifts wrapped by his Wade's World Foundation. And that "3 Under the Tree" event, as a whole, was actually, appropriately, the third of his giving endeavors in a 24-hour period.
Saturday afternoon, he gave his girlfriend, actress Gabrielle Union, something she'd long sought: a custom-made engagement ring. He did so at the house he's building, and with a more intimate audience.
"My kids were involved in it," Wade said, including his nephew Dahveon along with his sons Zaire and Zion. "We asked her to marry all of us. Not just me. It’s a package deal. So it was cool... She was shocked, but she was ready. She had the 'yes' in her back pocket."
Then, Saturday night, at the Miami Heat's Christmas party, Santa Wade handed out green jackets to 12 teammates who won a championship with him last June.
"I was just trying to do something different, and out of the norm," he said. "I started to think about what previous champions have done. (Rasheed Wallace) gave everybody (on the Pistons) the boxing belts. It came to me, because of fashion, and the Masters, and how amazing it is when they win the green jacket, and all the champions come back, and how prestigious it is. So I'm glad they liked it."
But all of this good cheer isn't what is getting Heat fans cheering.
Instead, it's this: Wade is giving plenty on the court as of late.
During the Heat's four-game homestand, he's averaging 25.8 points per game on 60 percent shooting. He's done this against strong (Indiana) and soft (Sacramento, Cleveland, Utah) defensive teams. And while he's done it with significant rest in between—no back-to-backs—it's a sign that his extra work is working for him. All week, while planning charity events and marriage proposals, Wade was strengthening his legs with long-time trainer Tim Grover, who flew down Dec. 11 at the nine-time All-Star's request.
"Getting there," is all Grover will allow, when discussing Wade.
Wade's teammate, LeBron James, has offered a bit more.
What is James seeing?
"Explosiveness," James said, after Wade scored 32 against Indiana on Dec. 18. "When he's able to move, he's one of the best in our game. When you see him get multiple dunks in games, multiple post-ups. I mean, he took 25 shots tonight, so he's feeling great. Don't remember the last time one of our players took 25 shots. But for him to shoot 15-for-25 was huge. His aggressiveness tonight was an indication that his knee, obviously it's not 100 percent, but it was feeling good."
While Wade has been dunking more lately, he insists that the best "tell" of his health is not his rim work, but his jumper accuracy, since "you got to plant, you got to be able to raise."
His jumper has been better of late; he's climbed to 41.8 percent from 16 to 23 feet, compared to 42.0 percent last season, according to the official NBA.com statistics site, and he even made a couple of three-pointers on Friday. His overall shot distribution is not all that different—68.3 percent of his field goal attempts are coming from 15 feet in, compared to 70.4 percent last season.
But his overall efficiency is up again.
As of Sunday, Wade ranked 10th in the NBA in field goal percentage at 54.1, even better than his career-best set last season (52.1).
Wade isn't the volume shooter he once was, averaging just 14.5 shots per game, down from 15.8 last season and lowest since his rookie season. Still, he's shot nearly twice as many times per game as the next guard on the field-goal-percentage list, San Antonio's Marco Belinelli, who ranks 23rd at 51.4 percent.
Next among high-usage guards?
"Tony Parker?" Wade guessed with a smile.
Yes, Tony Parker. He ranks 26th at 51.0 percent.
Parker, like Wade, shoots few 3-pointers, just 27 on the season, compared to 13 for Wade. So that contributes somewhat to their exceptional accuracy. Still, Wade's decision to work inside the arc is not the only reason for his uptick; he's at 55.2 percent on 2-pointers, beating the career-best 53.7 he posted last season, per Basketball-Reference.
All of this suggests that the skeptics may have spoken too soon again. Wade's per-minute rebounds, steals and assists are right where they've been, which means his only underwhelming statistic is his scoring average (19.9), and that's largely due to his shot selectivity. Yes, the knees are still an issue, as was evident when Wade finished Sunday's practice with enormous ice packs on each.
But he's still giving enough.
On and off the court.
"I've got some great people around me that deserves things," Wade said.
Wade deserves just one thing: a little commendation for slowly but surely re-establishing himself as elite.
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