In his first year with the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade made the playoffs. In 2004, the Miami Heat lost in the second round to the Indiana Pacers. His inaugural playoff run was typical Wade. 17 steals, 73 assists, 52 rebounds. He took 7 more shots in the playoffs than did Lamar Odom and led the team in makes but only attempted 8 threes which was also Dwyane Wade. His 18 points defined him as the best offensive player on the team and someone Pat Riley wasn’t going to give up, even for Shaquille O’Neal.
Fast forward 15 years and the Wade superlatives precede him. 13 All-Star games. 8 times All-NBA. 3 times All-Defensive. Finals MVP. 7th All-time in usage. He was drafted in the iconic class of 2003, selected 5th. Of the 1st round picks of 2003, only Wade and LeBron are still active players.
Wade has shot the ball better this year than Kobe Bryant did in his final year, and if he makes the playoffs, it will be something Michael Jordan could not accomplish after he left the Chicago Bulls. Wade has a little bit left and is continuing his legacy of leading the Heat somewhere, a team without sterling offensive talent. Wade, in effect, is doing something LeBron cannot. He is taking a bunch of young players, inserting himself in, and making sure they are relevant. Without him, the Heat would be treading water, and for sure, earmarked for the lottery.
Wade is doing things differently. (4) 20+ point games in the last 15 isn’t Dwyane Wade by any measure, but he is adapting what is possible at the age of 37, what the body can do, and applying it to what his team needs.
That is why until the season ends, the Heat will scrap and claw for the 8th seed. It’s all Dwyane Wade and his mentally tough, scrappy teammates.
Currently, Miami is in the 8th slot. A game in front of the Magic. But they are only two games behind 7th seed Nets. Neither Orlando nor Brooklyn have a Wade kind of player on their team, 37 or 27. Wade is the Heat X-factor going forward. But how realistic is it for Wade to end his career the way Dirk Nowitzki will not end his?
The Heat have a four game home stand. So far, they have underperformed at home. They play Toronto and Milwaukee, also Charlotte and Detroit. They go on the road and play the Spurs, Thunder and Bucks. Of their 17 games left, the Heat play 10 teams who are currently in the playoff seeding, 6 of those games on the road where the Heat have a .500 record The last game of the season is in Brooklyn and may decided the 7th or 8th seed. If Wade makes the playoffs, it will be because the Heat have slayed some mighty dragons. To do it they will need Wade circa 2016 when his playoff numbers were ripe: 14 games. 34 minutes. 21 points. 4 assists. 5 rebounds. 47% shooting.
Otherwise, this last year of Dwyane Wade ends on the night of April 10th in New York, the same city Wade was drafted in 2003. Separating the two events are 5 miles, 22,000 points, 3 rings and 16 seasons. Not to mention multiple crossovers, slashes to the rim, dunks, game winners and Wade County glory. If not the playoffs, then history. And the Hall of Fame.