Resume: 22.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.3 blocks, 33.2 minutes, 50% FG, 27% 3PT, and 79% FT… Team record in games played: 32-17 (14-3 without)… Playoffs: 22.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.3 blocks, 39.4 minutes, 46% FG, 29% 3PT, 73% FT, 16-7 record… All-Star, 10th in MVP Voting, 3rd Team All-NBA
I’ve caught some flak over the past two years for being what most people say is overly critical of Dwyane Wade. I don’t know if overly critical is the best way to describe it. I think a more accurate term would be realistically skeptical of him, and only when people (cough, cough Skip Bayless) wanted to try to tell me that Wade was as good as LeBron. Either way, I don’t see this being much of a problem going forward. After the way the 2012 NBA Playoffs played out there is no way that any rational and unbiased air breathing God created creature could possibly say that Dwyane Wade is the best player on the Miami Heat. And really, that is all that has ever bothered me about Dwyane Wade.
This isn’t going to be an all-out attack on Dwyane Wade. If I would’ve dropped him in the rankings or just talked about the bad things he does (whining after he doesn’t get a call instead of running back on defense, killing all momentum that LeBron has by taking an ill-advised contested jump shot, etc.) I would’ve come off just as biased and irrational as the people who try to put him on the same tier as LeBron. That isn’t what I want to do. After all, Dwyane Wade is arguably the best shooting guard in the league, quietly making a case as a top 5 shooting guard all-time (he might be there already), and turned in a terrific performance as a “Super-wingman”, a term coined by Bill Simmons in The Book of Basketball.
I still contend that the Heat struggled in 2011 for two main reasons.
1.) They weren’t nearly deep enough. Mario Chalmers (hardly used in comparison to this season), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (past his prime), Mike Bibby (past being past his prime), Joel Anthony (practically worthless), James Jones (spot up shooter and nothing else), Carlos Arroyo (now out of the league), Mike Miller (injured spot up shooter), Udonis Haslem (coming off of an injury), Erick Dampier (the worst offensive repertoire I’ve ever seen in person at an NBA game), Eddie House (somehow managed 21 minutes in Game Six of the NBA Finals) were all legitimate rotation guys at one point in the season. Are you effing kidding me?
2.) LeBron and Wade’s roles should’ve been reversed.
This just isn’t a shot at Dwyane Wade. LeBron proved somewhat incapable of being the 2nd option for the Heat. In the three rounds leading up to the Finals LeBron and Wade managed to perform a balancing act when it came to who would be doing the scoring. It was almost as if they decided “Okay, we won’t necessarily play together. We’ll just do something like ‘you take a shot, then I take a shot.’ Deal?” It was sort of like watching the best pick-up basketball game of all-time. There was a whole bunch of isolations and singular talent, not too much teamwork. A perfect example of that would be in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals when they both had their share of daggers against the Bulls to help propel the Heat into the Finals. The NBA Finals were a totally different story. It was almost like LeBron and Wade both wanted Wade to be “the man”, only LeBron couldn’t be the 2nd option that Dwyane Wade needed him to be, or even the 2nd option that Wade would manage to be just a year later.
What exactly does it say about Wade that the Heat had more success when he took a back seat to LeBron James? Well, you could argue one of two things. Either Wade wasn’t the player he was in 2006 and couldn’t handle the burden of being the top guy again, or, and this is the way I’m looking at it, the Heat improved, LeBron James evolved and started playing the best basketball that any perimeter player has played post-Jordan, and Wade simply had to be the best wingman possible. Instead of being the top guy in the NBA (which Wade had to be in 2011 in order for the Heat to win the Championship as long as he was going to be their go-to-guy late in games in the Finals) Wade just needed to be there take pressure off of LeBron. He spent time guarding Durant in the Finals when he wasn’t guarding Westbrook. Even though LeBron handled the majority of the late game scoring duties, Wade made his share of plays late in games. Most importantly, when Chris Bosh went down, Wade (and LeBron as well) put together a brilliant stretch of basketball keeping the Heat alive, particularly the final three games of the Indiana series when he averaged 33 points on 62% shooting. That’s super-wingman status right there.
As long as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can manage to stay reasonably healthy there is little reason to believe they couldn’t continue this run of Batman and Robin for a few more years. That’s right Skip Bayless, LeBron James is Batman, Dwyane Wade is Robin. Get used to it, and please start to appreciate it. #SonnyVsSkip