Jun 12, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) dribbles during the second quarter of game four of the 2014 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat: Why 2015 Could be Dwyane Wade's Comeback Year

Dwyane Wade’s stock is at an all-time low. The 32 year-old shooting guard is coming off a season in which he played only 54-games, in an effort to  preserve his body for a deep playoff run. This strategy backfired however, when after peaking early against the Indiana Pacers, Wade seemingly crumbled against the Spurs.

As his statistical production and raw athleticism continue to erode, fans are left wondering if they’ll ever see Wade at an elite level again. The answer for these concerned citizens is “probably”, with such optimism due in large part, to the departure of LeBron James.

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Miami Heat on/off data from 2012-2014 (Playoffs included).

While LeBron’s impact on the Heat was clearly exceptional, his impact on Wade’s game was considerably less helpful. As James ran Miami’s offense Wade was forced off-ball, reducing an offensive titan to a secondary slasher. Wade was “efficient” in this role, but a modest increase in shooting-percentage did little to offset his plummeting shot-usage and assist-rate. With LeBron gone however, Wade’s offensive-game could be in for a revival.

Of course, this issue is more complex then looking at some on/off numbers. What good is statistical excellence, if you aren’t on the court to apply it? It can be argued that as Wade only managed to appear in 54-games last season, another year of wear-and-tear will certainly exacerbate his durability issues.

This is a legitimate concern, though one could also reason that without the expectation of playing deep into June, Wade can lighten his maintenance plan accordingly, and shoot for around 65 played games.

Regardless, I attempted to project Wade’s offensive production for next season (per-game), using the above on/off splits, and Wade’s observed natural decline due to age/injury.

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Though his MVP-caliber days are assuredly over, Wade is still capable of All-Star caliber production. If he can maintain his respectable defensive aptitude, and catch some breaks with his health, both he and his Miami Heat could be the surprise of the season.

And of course, all bets are off if Wade finally catches that ever-elusive wild rabbit. Namely, a 3-point shot!

 

On/Off data courtesy of NBAWOWY.

An interesting look at how players with similar skill-sets can hurt each other’s game.

Tags: Dwyane Wade Miami Heat

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