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It’s the word reporters use seemingly every time 11-time NBA All Star Dwyane Wade puts up a great performance.
It’s the word reporters used last night after Wade torched the Cleveland Cavaliers for 32 points on 13-of-18 shooting en route to a 14-point Heat win. It’s what they’ve been using a lot lately to describe Wade’s recent hot stretch, where the veteran guard has posted six games of 25 points or better.
Vintage Dwyane Wade drops 30. Vintage Dwyane Wade drops 25, 5, and 5.
But, is Wade having a stat line similar to the aforementioned numbers really vintage?
Wade posterizing someone is vintage. Wade with an explosion of athleticism is vintage. Wade outrunning his defender and swatting 7-footers is vintage.
But, Wade stuffing the stat sheet with 25-plus points and five or more rebounds/assists is by no means “vintage.”
Yet, for the better part of the Miami Heat’s “Big Three” Era, Dwyane Wade was the most scrutinized man in South Beach.
Initially, that role was placed on LeBron James, but as soon as that first NBA championship and Finals MVP were on James’ resume, the monkey was off his back.
And Wade became the new media/fan target of the under the microscope Miami Heat that we knew from 2010-2014.
Wade missed games, struggled at times, and took a backseat to the best player in the game.
It certainly was not the player we came to know in the first half of his career, when Wade led the Miami Heat to their first title while averaging 34.7 points per game en route to becoming Finals MVP.
But to be considered an afterthought, a has-been, and way past his prime is premature and, quite simply, unfair.
There’s no denying Wade has lost a step in terms of his athleticism. He’s not as fast or explosive, and it feels like we haven’t seen him dunk since 2011.
On top of that, he’s missed a lot of games. Since the 2010-11 season, Wade has been absent in a total of 82 contests, including missing 28 games last season as part of an unsuccessful maintenance program.
Regardless, that does not change how effective, efficient, and productive Wade has been while on the floor.
Since the 2011-12 season (when the narrative really started that Wade was no longer a top player), Wade has ranked No. 3, No. 7, No. 18 and No. 12 (current) in John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Ranking. In addition, he’s averaged an Estimated Win Added (EWA) of 12 wins per season, which gives the estimated number of wins a player adds to a team’s season total above what a ‘replacement player’ would produce.
So, he’s never fallen out of the top 20 in PER and has been one of the top players in terms of Estimated Wins Added.
As for the hard stats:
Wade has averaged 21 points, 5 assists 4.5 boards, 1.6 steals per contest over the past four seasons, including the current 2014-15 campaign.
Those 21 points come at an efficient 51 percent shooting clip, where Wade has averaged above 50 percent shooting in every one of those years besides this season, where he resides just under at 48.1 percent.
So, where does a 21, 5, 5 at stat line rank among his peers?
The only other players to average at least those numbers in the same four-year span are Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, James Harden and Kobe Bryant (wouldn’t qualify if you account for missed games over past two seasons).
Given the numbers, Wade is easily still a top all-around player in this league.
He may not be as fast or athletic as his younger days, but his production ranks among the elite in the NBA.
Wade has fallen even further from the public eye and national conversation this season as he has missed 18 games and his Heat are clinging for a playoff spot, while no longer producing the media attention that surrounds LeBron.
And while many people like to commend James for leaving a “declining” Wade and teaming up with an ascending Kyrie Irving, numbers show that the counterparts are equally productive this season.
Wade- 21.6 points, 5.2 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 48.1 shooting from the field.
Irving- 22.2 points, 5.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 47.2 shooting from the field.
Quite frankly, the only shooting guards playing definitively better than Wade are Harden and Klay Thompson.
However, the national narrative remains that Wade is washed up.
The numbers show a different story.
While Wade’s recently play is impressive, it certainly isn’t “vintage.”
Because as long as Wade continues to consistently put up top of the line numbers, his production can’t be referred to as vintage.
It’s simply Wade being Wade.
Maybe it’s time we all apologize to him.
*Note: Numbers were rounded up. All statistics from ESPN.com and as of 3/17/15.
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