Wade’s increasing inefficiency likely led to breakup with Heat

May 13, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) shoots the ball over Toronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll (5) during the first quarter in game six of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
May 13, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) shoots the ball over Toronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll (5) during the first quarter in game six of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Heat weren’t about to fall down the same well with Dwyane Wade as the Lakers did with Kobe Bryant.

The Miami Heat are going to have a distinctively unfamiliar look for the upcoming season and beyond. Dwayne Wade has been the lifeblood of the franchise since his arrival as the number five overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft. He departs as a three-time NBA champion, 12-time all-star, 2006 Finals MVP, two-time all-NBA first team selection and an Olympic gold medalist.

In a nutshell, Wade was seeking a two-year contract from the Heat close to the $50 million range, whilst the Heat’s offer was closer to $40 million over two years. On top of the fact that Wade was not made a top priority by the Heat in their pursuit of re-signing and chasing other free-agents, it eventuated in a somewhat messy divorce.

This past season, Wade posted numbers of 19.0 points per game, 4.6 assists per game and 4.1 rebounds per game whilst playing 30.5 minutes per game and shooting 45.6 percent from the field. When looking at his per-36 minutes stats, his career averages are 23.8 points per game, 5.8 assists per game and 4.9 rebounds per game whilst shooting 48.8 percent from the field. This past season’s per-36 numbers were 22.5 points per game, 5.5 assists per game and 4.8 rebounds per game–almost identical to his career numbers.

On the surface, these numbers look very solid. He played 74 games, his highest since the 2010-11 season. His per-36 numbers were on par with his career numbers.

His playoff run was extremely impressive, posting 21.4 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game and 4.3 assists per game whilst playing 33.8 minutes per game whilst shooting 46.9 percent from the field. Based upon these numbers, it would seem to be a no-brainer that the Heat would come to an agreement with their franchise player.

However, when you dive further in to the numbers, another side of the argument can be made.

The combination of age and teammates around him have slowly decreased his productivity and efficiency. His  30.5 minutes per game were the lowest of his career, and it was the third consecutive season in which his minute numbers have dropped. His 45.6 percent field goal percentage was also a career-low, the lowest since his rookie season.

Its no coincidence that Wade’s four best field goal percentage seasons were the four seasons which LeBron James spent in Miami, where it peaked at 54.5 percent in the 2013-14 season.

Win shares, which is a metric that estimates the number of wins a player produces for his team, ranked him fourth on the team last season, behind Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh and since-departed Luol Deng, per Basketball Reference.

With Wade turning 35 this coming season and his efficiency and productivity gradually on the decline, there are some more stats when comparing recent seasons that would’ve raised many concerns for the Heat front-office.

Games shooting less than 40 percent from the field

2013-14 season: 5

Wade had just five games shooting under 40 percent that season out of 54 games played, which accounted for just nine percent of games. He averaged 19.0 points per game and shot 54.5 percent overall for the season, his last alongside James.

2014-15 season: 16

16 out of his 62 games played produced below 40 percent shooting, accounting for 25.8 percent of games. This is clearly a sharp hike from the previous season. In these 16 games, Wade averaged 14.9 points per game on 32.2 percent shooting. Overall, he averaged 21.5 points per game whilst shooting 47 percent from the field.

2015-16 season: 23

There were 23 out of 74 games played last season in which Wade shot below 40 percent from the field, consisting of 31 percent of games played. Over these 23 games, he averaged 12.9 points per game on 29.1 percent shooting. Sprinkled in among these 23 games were 8 games in which he shot 23 percent or less from the field.

These stats definitely confirm the suspicion that the amount of ineffective shooting games have increased in regularity over the past two seasons.

The concern moving forward for the Heat were that these numbers were only going to get worse.

Wade did improve his output in the playoffs and was excellent in both playoff series. However, the rest given to players in between games during the playoffs as opposed to the regular season must be taken into account when judging the true worth of these numbers.

Whilst it would’ve been a sentimentally popular decision, making Wade the team’s highest paid player over the coming two seasons would have been extremely hard to justify.

Heat president Pat Riley, cognizant of the team’s salary cap position going forward, would have seen the way in which the Los Angeles Lakers were somewhat handicapped both financially and on the court after awarding Kobe Bryant a monstrous two-year contract as a somewhat farewell gift. The team was basically stuck in mud for two years whilst Kobe either play inefficiently or was injured.

Whilst it was great for public relations and displayed a significant amount loyalty, it handcuffed any chance the team had to rebuild and move forward.  Although Wade hasn’t suffered the severe injuries that Bryant had incurred, which further exacerbated the Lakers situation, it is very clear going forward that he can no longer be relied upon to be the number one player on a team, if challenging the best teams in the league is on the agenda.

As much as he loves Wade, Riley is in it to win it and he was never going to risk having the Heat repeat the Lakers situation, where they won just a paltry 17 games this past season.

As valuable as it to have someone of Wade’s experience and leadership, their is a line that has to be drawn as to it’s financial worth.

The Heat used their head over their heart and therefore are prepared to put up with the short-term pain of losing a franchise favorite, in exchange for the long-term gain of challenging for a fourth NBA championship.