Much has been made about the ongoing health of Dwyane Wade, as he recently finished up his 11th NBA season, and is heading into his 12th without the overwhelming protection that is LeBron James. The struggle with Wade’s knees is both well documented and oft-publicized. It has caused him to miss significant chunks of the last three seasons, and some cynics can say it is part of the reason James decided to go back to Cleveland.
Be that as it may, Wade is still a very good NBA player, when he can stay on the court. During the 2013-14 regular season, Wade posted numbers of 19.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.7 APG, and 1.5 SPG, while shooting a career-high 54.5% from the field. Granted that was a function of playing off the ball with the best player in the league (and missing 28 games), but Wade has certainly become smarter in his shot selection as his career begins to wind down.
The problem is never, and has never been, his skill and basketball IQ. It is simply a matter of health, as the numbers would also suggest. During the 2013-14 postseason, Wade’s numbers dropped across the board. He cracked 20 points just seven times in the Heat’s 20 playoff games, including three games in the NBA Finals in which he never made it to 15 points. While that SCREAMS that he’s finished, I wouldn’t react that hastily just yet. There are certainly ways that Wade can make himself more effective and most importantly, keep himself on the floor and healthy.
Firstly, in a move he’s already initiated, would be to lose some weight. Having sat 28 games last season seemed to take a toll on Wade, as he was noticeably heavier than ususal. That effected his stamina and his defense when the Heat needed him most. Word is he got as heavy as 220 pounds last season, but has dropped down to about 210, which was his playing weight years ago. Secondly, it would benefit him immensely to finally improve the three-point shot. While he has drastically improved his mid-range jumper, Wade still struggles heavily with his long-range shots. Given that he may not have the explosion and burst that we’ve grown to love him for, adding another element like that to his game would do wonders for himself and the team.
I’m rooting hard for Wade to go out on his own terms. Maybe the sting of losing James will add the fuel to his fire to improve and keep himself on the court.