“Lucky 13. Lucky 13.”
Media day didn’t look like a typical media day. As media members swarmed around Miami’s biggest superstar Dwyane Wade, he was jovial and all smiles as he jumped around the Miami Heat practice court. Wade was excited and brought a lot of energy during the often mundane media day session. Even during the photo shoots Wade was happy and smiling like he knew he something that everyone else didn’t. The simple fact was he did know something everyone else didn’t.
In essence, Wade kind of did because after that media day gathering, and since the beginning of the NBA season Wade has been surprising everyone but himself with his play on the court. The official logo of the Miami Heat is the fire emblem that we’ve all have grown to love. Although, on the Heat roster there’s no player who’s had more of a blazing impact than Wade. Entering into year 13 of his career, Wade looks like he’s back to his pre-2010 days and it couldn’t come at a more opportune time for the Heat. On the year Wade is averaging 18.9 points, on 44 percent shooting from the floor, 40 percent shooting from the three-point line, 2.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
In fact, the 33-year-old shooting guard scored 20 or more points in the first five of Miami’s games which are something he hadn’t done since the 2010 season. The season-high of the year for Wade was against the Minnesota Timberwolves and he reminded everyone in attendance that he still is must see television.
— NBA (@NBA) November 6, 2015
Wade finished with an incredible game as he shot well from the field going 11-for-19 from the floor. Wade also grabbed five rebounds, had three steals and dished out two assists in Miami’s 96-84 over Minnesota. Although Wade didn’t have a great game against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night, he’s still been able to play at a very high level that should leave Miami Heat fans excited for the rest of the year. To some, the reemergence of Wade was unexpected because many thought that he was washed up. But ever since media day people could notice that he had lost weight, and for the first time in a long time he notably looked healthy. Now that Wade is back to his normal self, he’s having an amazing run at the tail end of his career.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra spoke about his star Wade and said this…“You love to see it because when we see him at the facility as much as the staff, what you see is the commitment. Players have to adapt with age and hopefully he’s like a fine wine.”
This season what’s been very noticeable is how often he’s starting to get to the paint. This year Wade is on pace this season to average around eight drives to the basket per game. That type of aggression from Wade is what fans have been dying to see. It’s also starting to pay off for his teammates too. In particular, each time that Wade drives into the paint he becomes the facilitator of the offense.
In an interview, Dwyane Wade said this. “We’ve got a lot of scorers on this team and we have a lot of playmakers, so we have to make plays for each other, and move the ball around, and get spacing for each other, to make the game easier for one another.
One of the players that Wade has made the game easy for is none other than his center Hassan Whiteside. The Wade and Whiteside pick and roll in the paint could be the game changing factor for Miami’s success. Whiteside is an excellent finisher at the rim and having Wade to give him even easier field goal attempts is a blessing. On the year, Whiteside is shooting 66 percent from the floor.
Furthermore, what Wade is also doing is taking younger players under his wing more. The most important younger player on the Heat this year is rookie Justise Winslow and their games are somewhat similar. Winslow currently is a defensive minded player who’s got elite athleticism and has the ability to get inside if the paint. Having someone like Wade mentor, and be a role model to Winslow is crucial since each of these two make a living on attacking the rim. We can see a bit of a rub off effect already. When Winslow played against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night, he didn’t settle for too many outside jump shots. Winslow on one possession was guarded by veteran forward Chase Budinger. Winslow immediately went to the low block posted him up, used his strength and bullied his way to two points. It’s that sort of low post move Wade acquired when LeBron James was in Miami that has been passed down.
Whether Wade manages to average 25 points per game this season is irrelevant. If he can keep his averages about 20 points per game, keep shooting around 45% from the floor, and be a part of the development of Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow is the most important tasks. Wade was shouting out Lucky 13 during media day and Miami might not need any luck if they can keep getting the spectacular play out of Wade.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter@DJoumbarey.