Scaletta’s Summer Top 100 is a ranking of returning NBA players. For a full explanation of our methodology, read our intro.
Dwyane Wade has played 1,021 games in his lifetime, and every single one of them has been in a Miami Heat uniform. He has also left quite a bit of money on the table.
To put things in perspective, Wade has earned $156,321,666 in his career. Carmelo Anthony, who came into the league the same year Wade did, has taken max contracts every year of his career and has made $181,198,275. Wade has effectively left $25 million on the table to accommodate his team. When he was asked to forego more, he finally balked and bolted for his hometown Chicago Bulls.
How much does the future Hall of Famer have in the tank, and how much can he help the Bulls? Those are questions very much worth asking.
Wade is still capable of playing at a borderline All-Star-caliber level. But his chances of hitting his ceiling this year depend almost entirely on fit. He, Jimmy Butler and fellow new acquisition Rajon Rondo are all ball-dominant players without much shooting range in an offense predicated largely on shooting. That’s the bad news.
The good news is both Butler and Wade are brilliant cutters, and all three are terrific passers. Also, all three won’t be on the court at all times. Finding the combination of players that unlocks a competitive team will be Fred Hoiberg’s job, and if he does, Wade will be a critical part of it.
There is also a realistic possibility that Hoiberg never figures out how to make all of this work, Rondo pouts, Butler rebels and Wade gets hurt. This experiment could easily go way off the rails. If that happens, Wade could even be in danger of dropping out of the top 100. He turns 35 in January and he’s noticeably in decline.
Wade’s range is, to put it mildly, suspect. He has a career three-point percentage of 28.4 percent. Last year he was 7-of-44. And no, there is not a missing digit attached to that “7.” Weirdly, he was lit on fire during the playoffs and hit 12-of-23 attempts. I’m not sure how many people have ever made more threes in the playoffs than they did in the regular season, but I don’t think it would be very many.
What Wade does do very well, though, is drive to the basket. According to NBA.com, within 10 feet of the rim he shot 54.9 percent, and that accounted for 52.2 percent of his offense. Catch-and-shoots only amounted to 6.4 percent. The bad part was his pull-up jumper, where he had an effective field goal percentage of just 35.0 percent.
That’s where the actual design of the offense will factor in. Wade has always been a great passer. Butler averaged 1.53 points per possession on cuts last year, per Synergy stats at NBA.com. Doug McDermott averaged 1.17 PPP on spot-ups, the 91.6 percentile. Mirotic was at 1.11 PPP, putting him in the 85.1 percentile.
Wade’s job will be to find the open man instead of forcing an ill-advised jumper.
Wade has never built his career on defense, though he has been on three All-Defensive teams. Last year, he had a Defensive Real Plus-Minus of -1.78, which was only 66th out of 93 shooting guards.
He has 759 career blocks, which according to Basketball-Reference.com, is almost 100 more than any player 6’4″ or shorter. Dennis Johnson is second at 675. That’s due to the tremendous 6’10.75″ wingspan Wade has. Paired with Rondo’s 6’9″ wingspan, that gives the Bulls a lengthy backcourt combination. When you combine that with Butler’s All-Defensive prowess, there’s a way this defense can work, too.
If Wade can be more of a defensive playmaker than ball-stopper, just using his length to get into passing lanes and start fastbreaks, he can be effective. Only 10 players in history have more blocks and steals than him, and that number could dwindle even more this season.