With a Thursday night game against the Sacramento Kings looming, the Miami Heat stand at 6-4 on the season. Before the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, they had yet to allow an opposing team to score 100 points in a game this year.
As highlighted in Nicolas Meichel's article on the five takeaways from the first ten games, Goran Dragic has not been the same All-NBA performer we paid him to be and Hassan Whiteside has shown to not be a one year wonder. Luol Deng and Chris Bosh are playing to the same level we're accustomed to, so that leaves one starter.
Dwyane Wade. My favorite player of all-time, by the way. It's been a tale of two halves of the season for "Flash". The first five games, he scored 20+ in every single one. The next four (he missed the Utah game), he's averaged just over 10 points a game, never shooting above 38% from the field. The optimist in me says it's a match-up thing. In three of those four games, he was primarily guarded by DeMarre Carroll, Paul George, and Andrew Wiggins; three great wing defenders. On the negative side, I wonder if Wade exhausted himself early in the season. Could his body just not do what he did in those first five games on a game-in and game-out basis? In season 13, with all the extra playoffs and Finals minutes on his body, is it just not feasible for him to be a guy that averages 19/20 points per game?
Most Heat fans and supporters have come to grips with what Wade's limitations are/can be and t's been prevalent the last two and a half seasons. It was assumed with the addition of Dragic, an improved depth on the bench, and the discovery of Whiteside that Wade's impact on the game wasn't as necessary to team success. However, in a game like Tuesday's Minnesota game or the Indiana Pacers game the week prior, when the offense bogs down, he needs to be the superstar and put the team on his back for a few possessions. He didn't do that. This leads to my question.
Is it time to start sitting Wade for rest purposes?
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is really at the forefront of this movement, using sporadic rest for his older players to keep them from feeling the physical affects from the long regular season. There's no doubt that it has worked for Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker, who're still productive despite the thousands of NBA minutes on their bodies. Erik Spoelstra has always been a forward thinker when it comes to trends in the league, but he's never been one to specifically sit players for rest, at least not frequently. It's only 10 games into the season, but while teams are still trying to figure themselves out, why not start sitting him here and there? For example, for Thursday's game against the Kings. A struggling team with a lot of internal drama coming to Miami that is coming off a loss. Seems like a perfect game for Wade to sit and have Bosh, Whiteside, and company take care of business.
The counter point is that with Dragic playing at the level he is, Gerald Green having some personal issues, and the Mario Chalmers trade, we may need him for now until some of this subsides. Understandable. The first back-to-back for the Heat isn't until early January, maybe you hold resting him until around that time? Or maybe we wait until Pat Riley uses Chris Andersen's expiring contract to trade for one more wing player? Jamal Crawford anyone? Wishful thinking, but a trade could be in play. We've seen that Riley's not afraid to part with players from the championship era.
There's a dozen reasons why this is too early to be discussing, but without any Eastern Conference teams really solidifying their position as sure-fire playoff threats to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the time may be now.