Normally, the Heat cannot survive a slow start to the season from Dwyane Wade.
The Heat teams he led to the playoffs for two years prior to the acquisition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh would have been cooked by January if his foot wasn't on the pedal to start the year.
But since the Heat signed Bosh and James, Wade has begun the season with underwhelming production. And naturally, James and Bosh are good for a win on most nights, so there have been no effects from this, other than Wade eventually rounding into form as the team prepared for deep playoff runs.
This season has been no different, but we want to identify this trend and see it for what it is. It could be natural decline for a 30-year old shooting guard. Many will point to that. It could also just be that he has not entered these seasons as prepared as usual, which I don't think is the case. Much of it is injury, which has been clearly a factor to start at least two of the last three years.
But before we cause to much alarm about Wade's decline, we have to take something into account.
He has done this before.
And then he has exploded for huge months in the middle of the season. In 2010 he missed the entire preseason as the team took the precautionary route with a hamstring issue, and then a rough start to the season followed as the team tried to fit their new pieces together. Last year, he had some foot issues early in the year, reportedly, and this year, we know he is coming off of knee surgery and has picked up a few nicks early on.
That probably explains things. Here are the splits of his play for every month in the last two seasons. You can click the images to enlarge them.
To start the 2012-13 season, Wade is averaging 18.1 points on 48 percent shooting, and taking the second lowest amount of shots per game in his career (15.1), and getting to the line less than five times a game, which is unheard of.
But as you can see with the previous two years, Wade has picked up his play in the middle months of the season and went on some ridiculously efficient runs. With last season's lockout the timing was different, but the trend was the same. He was shooting under 45 percent through the first two months of the year, which was 12 games, and he erupted in 13 February games.
Maybe Wade is simply one those players who chooses to ease into seasons. If you look at his career statistics, his production actually does dip in November, as compared to other months, even though the trend wasn't present in 2008-09, his best season.
So, regardless of injury, it seems like a career trend that isn't likely to change.
Wade, if healthy, will likely burst out and start punishing teams soon, which will lead to his statistics regressing to the supremely efficient player we are used to watching. At least this season, based on his ability to clearly still make explosive plays and his skill, there shouldn't be any steep decline some have forecasted.
Dwyane Wade is off to a slow start to the year, and nothing is new about it.