When I first saw that Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade was selected to the All-Star team I thought it was a bit of a reputation vote. Perhaps this belief stemmed from a lack of paying close attention and focusing on the headlines about minute restrictions, rests and more nagging injuries. Surely, Wade must be disintegrating from the inside out and closely monitored to ensure that he doesn’t devolve into a pile of dust by the end of March. Right? Wrong.
Dwyane Wade is as deserving as ever of his selection this season. His field goal percentage of .548 is good even for a frontcourt player, no less a shooting guard and is shooting close to .400 percent from three for the first time in his career, albeit on a little more than one attempt every other game. Keep looking and you see a player who’s per game rebounding and steal numbers are in-line with career averages and you can see the man in the black number three jersey is still Dwyane Wade.
If you’re still not convinced, take a look at his passing numbers. His assists per game average of 4.7 is well below his career average of 6.0 and also down 0.4 from last season, but there is a reason for that: his usage rate has gone down. Another reason, aside from simply aging, could be simple regression to the mean from last season. In 2011 and 2012 he averaged 4.6 per game, but in 2013 he averaged 5.1 out of nowhere. Before that he averaged 6.5 in 2010. Now, what happened to the Heat between the end of the 2010 season and the start of the 2011 season…oh, right. They gutted their entire roster to sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh and that has simply taken possessions away from him, this season being no exception.
Once I took a good hard look at Wade’s numbers and had rethink my approach to this piece, Stone Temple Pilots’ “Trippin’ On a Hole in a Paper Heart” popped into my head. The song itself was written around the time ex-singer Scott Weiland’s heroin addiction had taken hold and started to screw up his life, but the line “I am, I’m not myself/not myself/I’m not dead and I’m not for sale” particularly resonated with me in Wade’s case. Much like the band itself was not dead — in fact, “Tiny Gifts…” is a great record and an underrated one in their catalog that would be more popular had Weiland not had to go to rehab and get fired for the first time for being a pain in the ass and having to cancel shows to support the album — Wade himself is not dead. Not only is he still producing like he has been with various ailments, but he is alive and well playing nearly the exact same amount of minutes he was last year.
We may not know if Wade will play in the big game or not. I mean, after all he’s been through he was held out of Wednesday night’s game against the Warriors because a nerve in his leg shutdown. Like my PC does when I keep delaying the updates: it shutdown and all he had to say was, “I couldn’t force it.” You think so? Generally speaking, it’s never a good thing when anything in the body just shuts down. Yet, you have to remember that he’s dealing with this and more and still among the best players at his position. Whether or not he should play is a fair question, but there’s no doubt he belongs in New Orleans.