In an interview with USA Today Dwyane Wade — one of the NBA’s most physical players for the last 10 years — said he needs to change his game for the sake of staying healthy.
“The older you get, the less you want to go inside and get banged around,” Wade told USA TODAY Sports. “So I want to be more of a consistent outside shooter.”
Wade has struggled to shoot the ball consistently from the outside throughout his career. Last season, the All-Star guard shot 25.8 percent from three-point range, the worst percentage of his career, but only on 66 attempts.
In fact, Wade has shot noticeably fewer shots from three-point range in the past two championship years with the Heat. Having shot just 56 threes in the 2011-2012 season.
That’s after three consecutive seasons of shooting more than 200 three-pointers, the last being the inaugural year of the Big Three, which was, in some ways, capped off by Wade’s prematurely celebratory three-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. The Mavericks would come back in the game and dismantle the Heat to win the title.
For his career, Wade shot 28.9 percent from three-point range.
Never hitting the long ball consistently, Wade made a decision to keep his game inside the stripe to best utilize his strengths. He often passed up wide-open three-pointers with a pass or an attempt to drive to the rim. Unfortunately, Wade may be too old to have the strength to keep taking the beating inside.
Wade’s reluctance to keep his shots inside also led to a floor-spacing problem that the San Antonio Spurs exploited at times during the NBA Finals.
Wade came into the league as a slasher and still is. Even when he shoots the midrange shot, he commonly opts to jump into defenders in attempt to draw a shooting foul and take two shots from the free-throw line, than to get off a clean shot.
That’s not to say Wade hasn’t evolved. He has become a much better mid-range shooter and has developed a post game that would rival the best big men in the NBA. Since LeBron joined him in Miami, he has become one of the best off-ball movers and cutters in the league too.
When LeBron must focus his efforts on the offensive end, Wade is also the team’s best wing defender. Wade rushes from one side of the court to the other in a way no other player on the team can. His blitzing and helping skills is something Erik Spoelstra relies on in crunch time.
Check out Wade’s help on the baseline during this crucial NBA Finals possession:
Despite all of Wade’s strengths, he simply may not have the strength to keep doing it at a high level as he gets older. If he keeps to his word and does get better as an outside shooter then he could even become more of what Miami needs.
LeBron, the reigning MVP, has established his post-game as his offensive staple. He is the best finisher at the rim in the league and is virtually unstoppable when he gets his adamantium-infused body in the paint.
The Heat is built on surrounding LeBron with shooters. If Wade can become one of those shooters, and then come up with a death-defyingly-dominant game we have come to expect from Wade every once in a while, then Wade can hush all the talk of LeBron needing a new “number two.”
Wade scoring on jumpers instead of twisty-turny-layups that always end up with him on the floor will also help him preserve energy for the defensive end in which, as already noted, he is still dominant.
Will Wade become an efficient jump shooter in one summer? Easier said than done, especially as Wade continues to rehab his knees. His summer training will likely be cut short.
But hey, it isn’t as if Wade won’t have the whole regular season to practice. He can ask his buddy LeBron about that.