By Paul Sarconi
This season has be a resurgent one for Dwyane Wade. It was nearly nine months ago that the San Antonio Spurs made him look old and washed up. In that series he played more like Gerald Wallace than he did the slashing, driving, dangerous version of himself that lead Miami to three rings. His decline was so rapid that it was likely a factor in LeBron taking his talents back up to Cleveland. (LeBron had to be thinking, “If Dwyane Wade isn’t Dwyane Wade anymore, but he’s being paid like Dwyane Wade. Who can they get to help me?”)
Wade’s stat line from the 2013 finals speaks for itself. He took just six three pointers and shot 43 percent from the field. (All stats per ESPN.com) If you’re taking a lot of two’s in today’s NBA you damn well better make more than 50 percent of them. Otherwise you’re invaluable.
Suffice to say, Wade look as washed up as Tom Hanks in Castaway.
This season though? Wade’s back baby. Yes, he’s missed 19 games, which is a lot, but that’s already one more than last year. Plus he just scored 40 points in a critical win overt he Detroit Pistons, and Miami is in position to make the playoffs despite the loss of Chris Bosh.
The problem, however, is when you compare his stat line from this season to the Finals against the Spurs.
He’s shooting only 1.6 three’s a game and is making just 29 percent of those. He’s still not at 50 percent from the field despite an abundance of two’s, and he’s averaging 3.3 turnovers a game despite the fact that he’s not a point guard. Yes, he’s averaging 5.1 assists a game, but his turnover to assist rate is 74th out of 85 qualified players.
A deeper dive into Wade’s stat line doesn’t help his cause, either. It shows that his spike in stats may have more to do with the absence of LeBron and Bosh than it does with a change in Wade’s game.
Let’s start with the good, since I actually like Dwyane Wade a lot. He’s scoring more per 40 minutes than he has in four seasons, and his assist numbers per 40 minutes are the highest he’s posted since pre-LeBron. Plus, his PER is higher this year than last year. It’s still the fourth worst of his career, but at least he hasn’t regressed.
Okay, now to the bad. His assist rate per 40 minutes is the second worst of his career, his true shooting percentage is the worst it’s been since his rookie season, and if his rebound rate remains the same it would be the second worst of his career. This could all change if the projection for this season holds true, but if Wade’s advanced stats stay where they are, the perception that he is making a late career resurgence is false.
Wade is still Miami’s leader, and his contribution to the team is extremely important, but he is simply a player whose style of play is slowly going extinct in the NBA. He may have a few more productive years left, but the super star that took over the 2006 finals isn’t coming back.