Dwyane Wade is not getting the respect he deserves. It's that simple.
In the wake of Chris Bosh's absence, Wade has battled illness and injury to deliver spectacular stat lines, doing everything in his power to keep his team afloat. While it hasn't worked every contest, it does not take way from the effort of a man who gives his all every night he possibly can.
During the offseason I was asked time and time again, if I thought Wade "was done", "over", "washed-up", "ready to retire" and I responded to each question with a simple "no." Wade spent the offseason losing weight, and what people take for granted is the fact that he had no offseason knee procedure. His health and hard work is being displayed, but each great game Wade has is deemed as "Vintage". All great players alter their game as they age, and finally Wade has done the same thing. What Heat-Nation is seeing can't be considered vintage, but perhaps the final form of Dwyane Wade.
As I watched from the nosebleeds of the Barclays Center Tuesday evening I saw Wade cut by Shabazz Napier and grab a handoff. He then proceeded to post up Alan Anderson just outside the block ( a defender who had his hands all over Wade) and deliver a fade away jumper that was smooth as butter. Wade would go on to repeat the same move countless times throughout the night on Sergey Karasav, and whoever scrambled towards him fast enough.
Scoring 28 points, Wade seemed truly unguardable. That being said, a game that was deemed "Vintage" by many couldn't have been the farthest thing from it, this was not a typical Dwyane Wade game no games are anymore.
Wade doesn't score the way he used too, he's not as fast or explosive as he was in 2010, he can't attack the rim with reckless abandon anymore. That has led him to become craftier and in turn more efficient from a scoring perspective.
Analyzing Dwyane Wade's 2010 playoff game against the Celtics (pre- LeBron James) it's clear of how things used to be. Many of Wade's points came off of fast break opportunities, as a result of him being the fastest player down the floor once down there he was able to take it to the rack with ease.
As made obvious by the footage, Wade was reliant on his first step only taking a handful of jump-shots (besides a barrage of threes) the entire game instead opting for dunks and circus shots. Wade's energy back then seemed almost endless, but he's not that player anymore yet he still remains elite.
Regarding last night's game against the Jazz, it's clear that Wade now thrives in a mid-range style game where he can unleash his bag of tricks. It's more common now more than ever to see Wade fool a defender with a shot fake to get to the line, or unleash his strength on lesser defenders in the low post.
That's not to say there aren't flashes of his former self. Wade did score a beautiful fast break dunk last night, but for the most part Wade seems comfortable in his newfound old man style game. What Wade has now that he didn't have before is a control on possessions. Where Wade used to receive a pass and proceed to sprint towards the rim he now waits, and sizes up his defenders. This is where the jab step has made a world of difference for Wade as he can see how the defender will react, and then either take him down to post up or use a step back to create room for a shot. Wade also has refined his body control and touch from just a few feet out where he can score floaters with ease.
Wade's health really isn't a concern at this point. After Wednesday's game, he was asked how he was feeling regarding the hamstring that ailed him early in the season:
"I'm past the hamstring at this point, but I'm feeling good, the hamstring took me out for a couple of weeks, but I feel that I've got my legs under me at this point. I felt explosive, I felt like I could do things on the floor I wanted to do."
However, scoring isn't enough to fuel Wade's competitive fire. He wants to win, and with a Miami roster that's been destroyed by unfortunate circumstance he can't. When asked if he was frustrated after a loss like that, Wade said something that stuck out to me saying.
"It's hard man, to lose at home. I'm not used to that. We're used to playing very well at home...at least giving ourselves a chance"
It's true. Miami has been a powerhouse at home since 2010, and it just goes to show how necessary it is that the Heat find their chemistry and do so soon.
Wade is a natural scorer and playmaker. He plays competitively, and can do things that nobody else can. I had the opportunity to take my friend to the Brooklyn game Tuesday, where Wade performed a move that underneath the basket that was spectacular. I heard an audible, "Wow." my friend was shocked at how dominating Wade was, this was his first professional basketball game and I could see he was getting the true Wade experience.
Wade is different now, but he's still a phenomenal basketball player. Almost all of his stats have improved from last season, and what's reassuring is that he's doing things on a consistent basis. This can't be considered vintage anymore, this is just the way of Wade.