Around The NBA: Wade’s Rest Will Benefit Miami In The Long-RunBREAKING NEWS, NBA, News Thursday, January 24th, 2013
At the risk of stating what you already know, LeBron James has won a championship. Seemingly overnight, he has wrapped his third MVP season up with a bow and exercised most all of his “clutch gene” demons and gone from sports culture pariah to grounded family man who still has enough of a hairline to make going to the barbershop more than a social formality, at least according to Samsung commercials. Unfortunately, the Heat’s title run has done little to improve their public image as the most easily disliked team in the league and with the championship-sized monkey off of LeBron’s back and jokes about Chris Bosh’s appearance only stretching so for nowadays, popular opinion has set it’s sights on 2006 Finals MVP, Dwayne Wade, implying that at last, “Flash” has lost a step. However, further investigation shows that maybe such claims are just kind of a low blow.
Shockingly, banging the drum at the head of this movement, is Wade’s former T-Mobile spokespartner, the recently slimmed down mound of rebound, Charles Barkley, who insists that Wade must cultivate a post game a la Kobe Bryant in order age gracefully in the NBA. While it may be true that Wade no longer has the raw athleticism and explosion to dominate games as he one did, it’s hard to determine how much of that can be attributed to his still ailing left knee and the wear and tear of the NBA grind and how much is the result of his secession of the Miami to Heat to LeBron. Last season, Wade made it clear that he was officially the Robin to LeBron’s Batman and as a result, the notion that the big three of South Beach were competing for control of the franchise disappeared and Wade, in his reduced role, raised the Larry O’Brien trophy for the second time in his storied career.
Alas, likely the only unselfish occurrence in Miami all of last season, (except the Marlins handing over their whole squad to Toronto, but that’s neither here nor there) which earned Wade such laud and respect has been the very same mindset that has called his skills into question this season. The Heat look more mortal than they have since their initial fumbles when Wade, Bosh, and James first aligned, with an inexplicable loss to the lowly Wizards (then without Nene) and perhaps the more telling and recent loss to the Rose-less Bulls. With all of that said, by the numbers, Wade is shooting a career best 51 percent from the field in just over 33 minutes per game. In addition, Wade is shooting a career best 32 percent from three. The most telling number of all, however, is one. The Heat are first in the East as we near the halfway point of the season.
Despite their expected lofty position at the top of the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat definitely have issues to address before repeating as champs, not the least of which being improved and hungry teams in New York, Atlanta, Memphis, LA (Clippers), and familiar foes in OKC. The league has appeared to again place value in bruising a versatile front lines, an area where the Heat are incredibly deficient. Their own versatility of placing LeBron in the post in the half court and pushing the ball through teams otherwise seems more negated than ever as other, equally athletic teams threaten to get over the hump. Without production from the 4 and 5, or at the very least the ability to stop other teams’ 4′s and 5′s. The Heat’s chances to repeat are very much in doubt.
As for Wade, he’ll likely ride his newly regimented minutes like the passenger seat of the Batmobile with LeBron at the wheel and assuming his health holds up, will have plenty of pop come April and, perhaps, June. If the Heat are ill fit to take on an NBA that’s improved around them, odds are it won’t be Wade’s fault. Until that time, Dwayne Wade will be waiting in shadows waiting for his number to be called. I’m no Heat fan by any stretch, but I’d hate to be the guy to bet against him.
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