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Is Dwyane Wade becoming underrated?

Oct 22, 2012, 5:04 PM EDT

Dwyane Wade AP

NBA General Managers seem to think so.

In the GM survey that was released earlier today, NBA executives were asked who they thought the best shooting guard in the league is. Wade was listed second (behind Kobe Bryant), receiving 23.3% of the vote. This is down from the 40.7% of the vote Wade received last season when he still ranked below Bryant.

What stands out to me here isn’t that Wade ranks below Kobe. They’re two of the best players in the world and there can be a reasonable difference of opinion on who you think is better. People have their preferences and tend to value different things.

What stands out is that with both players one year older — and Wade still in his prime — GM’s seem to think that Wade is losing ground in comparison to Kobe; that Wade’s stock seems to be falling at a rate disproportionate to his game.

Last season wasn’t Wade’s best season as a pro but he was still excellent. His per-36 minute averages were right in line with what he produced the season before even if his per game averages dipped slightly. From an efficiency stand point, he posted a higher PER, assist rate, and a lower turnover rate last year than the season before and did it all while maintaining a usage rate that’s only shade below his career norms.

If his box-score stats suffered, it was more about him pulling back some in order to give LeBron more freedom rather than any real slippage in his game. Wade understood, like everyone else, that the Heat would need LeBron at his best to reach their goals and then adjusted his game to help make it happen. He worked more off the ball, picked his spots, and seemed content to lay-low throughout games for longer stretches and then pounce when his team needed him.

I’m sure playing with LeBron James also hurts the way he’s perceived. Even if Wade isn’t actually doing less, LeBron’s other worldly talent makes it seem like he is. They play such similar styles that one can’t help but think if LeBron is controlling the game from the wing that Wade can’t be. Add in the fact that LeBron is the MVP of the league, Finals MVP, and won an Olympic gold medal over the summer only adds to the divergent opinions towards the Heat’s two best players.

Wade also played the majority of last season dealing with several nagging physical issues. He missed 17 regular season games, including 8 of the Heat’s final 15, with injuries ranging from a dislocated finger to ankle, foot, and knee troubles. Heading into the playoffs and throughout the entire post-season, Wade did not look like his normal self and was only able to conjure up his usual brilliance occasionally.

And maybe that’s really the issue here. The lasting images of Wade coming off of last season are of him not being Dwyane Wade. We have memories of him lacking explosion when going to the rim and settling for more jumpers.We recall his first step not being the same and his finishing ability suffering because of it.

But Dwayne Wade isn’t some broken down has been. He needed surgery on his knee and had it during the off-season. He’s on pace to return on time to start the season fully healthy. When the regular season starts we’re likely to see a different Wade than the one that finished the playoffs gutting through games and getting his knee drained.

There’s a recency bias that exists in sports. Too many times we fall victim to the idea that the most recent best thing is the best thing ever. We end up thinking that the way something just was is the way it will be moving forward. With Dwyane Wade, I think we’re going to see rather quickly that all the GM’s that see him precipitously falling in comparison to his peers got it wrong.

For NBA GM’s, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

  1. cantonbound13 - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    Underrated??? He’s clearly the best flopper in the NBA.

    • bils293 - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:46 PM

      Of course you’re the first to comment. It is an article related to the heat after all.

  2. paintman34 - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Clap Clap Clap, Glad some people are taking notice of this, you never hear him mentioned anymore, its sad because the media is practically turning a blind eye to greatness

    • jjordannba - Oct 22, 2012 at 7:33 PM

      Yea but we hear about the Heat plenty, so I think it’s ok.

      • paintman34 - Oct 22, 2012 at 9:35 PM

        No, you hear about LeBron plenty, but never about Wade

  3. Mr. Wright 212 - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    All that flopping is causing him to age in NBA years sooner than he would, too.

  4. money2long - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    i don’t necessarily think he is underrated as much as he is simply getting overshadowed by all the flashy, new younger wing stars in the game. add to that the stigma fans hold with aging players. i believe if wade continued to play how he is now and fans were told he’s 26, he’d be put on a pedestal.

    • 00maltliquor - Oct 23, 2012 at 2:31 AM

      Sorry money (Love all of your other post though, you do know a thing or two, that’s for sure. Love what you have to say.) but who exactly are the other flashy, new younger wing stars that are taking away from D Wade and his perception? The article only stated that he was behind (The Great) Kobe Bean “Black Mamba” Bryant.

      He’s only overshadowed by Mamba (rightfully so). And Kobe is 34, if age were a determining factor then wouldn’t he be under Wade? Plus, this wasn’t a poll for fans and their perception, this was a poll for GMs and what they thought, not for fans with an age stigma.

      • money2long - Oct 23, 2012 at 11:19 AM

        fair question, (and thanks man, appreciate your endorsement of me)

        but yea..let me explain myself.

        yes, dwyane wade is still among atop the totem pole in terms of status. he is a multiple all star, playing on the championship team.. so his talent should go unquestioned.

        unfortunately, it gets overshadowed by the fancy new toys (new young players with potential) in the league. don’t get me wrong, but look at how ppl are getting all googly-eyed over westbrook nowadays, which is understandable simply because he is a phenomenal talent.

        fans have seen what wade could do for years. so to me, it’s not a case of him being underrated as much as it is being overlooked, or put on the backburner..ESPECIALLY with the way lebron played last season. most things wade would do just paled in comparison because lebron was just that much better. could you imagine having to be the guy that had to give a follow up speech after MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ ? lebron’s superior play inevitably makes wade’s game look less than what it actually is. (he was playing hurt though)

        anyway, to get back on topic…look at these young up and coming players like kyrie irving, paul george, demar derozen, jeremy lin(jk..maybe), jrue holiday. now, this isn’t a case of these guys being more mvp worthy than wade, but simply where the spotlight is. the spotlight was taken off of kobe as he started hitting his 30s and ppl started writing him off. kobe knew that, and he proceeded to have some very good seasons, playing through injuries (thwarting father time) and nearly led the league in scoring. it was his way of reminding ppl what he is still capable of.

        i want to restate again, it’s not a case of who is better than who, but a sense of who fans and observers are more captivated by and enamored with currently. look at some of these other younger, yet, more established players like john wall, derrick rose and KD. a man can love his girl, he knows what she brings to the table, but when that new pretty girl with the butt walks by the table he’s having dinner at, he’s going to be hard pressed not to look. a child loses interest in his old toys when a new one comes around.

        and i just don’t think it’s the perimeter players that have some ppl overlooking wade. some new big men with star talent (kevin love, cousins, blake) are putting wade further in the background as he ages. ppl appreciate the new things more.

        that is why i said, if we were told wade was 26, he’d automatically be hot shizz again. also, anthony davis is waiting around the corner to take some shine too. it just comes with the territory. with age, fans start to overlook. it’s inevitable. i’m happy guys like kobe continue to work hard to maintain their abilities as their youth dissipates.

  5. rocirius - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    The Heat’s best lineup will be Wade, Allen, Battier, James and Bosh. If that group doesn’t get the bulk of the minutes in the playoffs, they will be unlikely to repeat.

    • ovi8lebron6 - Oct 22, 2012 at 6:07 PM

      Wade-Battier-James-Bosh quartett is obvious. I like Chalmers though (especially after last season’s performance) as their starter or even finisher in games cause he is better defensively than Allen. But it’s really about matchups, so it depends on the opponent.

    • michaeljordanseviltwin - Oct 22, 2012 at 10:23 PM

      That’s definitely the crunch time lineup offensively and defensively. Outside of crunch time I wouldn’t count on seeing that lineup. The beauty of Ray Allen signing is that the Heat finally have a guy they can count on off the bench. Spoelstra worked hard the last 2 years to make sure he always had 2 of his 3 stars on the court at all times. Now he can relax and let Ray Allen quarterback the reserve team with maybe Bosh, Miller, Haslem and Cole.

  6. miamatt - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    I love the doubting, it only motivates Wade, who has a definite nastiness streak. For my money he’s been the best shooting guard in the league for at least a couple of seaons now. Wade’s looking quick this preaseason, I think he’ll play with a real edge all year.

  7. dysraw1 - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    30yrs. old in the NBA. today is a lot different than back in the day,even though players enter the league younger. the players careers last a lot longer. that being said i don’t expect a decline in Wades game for at least 4 or 5 seasons

  8. canehouse - Oct 22, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Keep on doubting… Wade is at his best when he is doubted… in fact he is more lethal to his opponents when he is doubted.

    canton and mr. wrong… as a cordial reminder… Miami Heat are the defending NBA champions… u two haters were tumble weeds and crickets when Miami dropped the Thunder in 5. Welcome back, and get ready for a “RE-HEAT” in 2013!!!!

  9. misterdreamer119 - Oct 22, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    Who is better than wade at the 2 in the association?

  10. dls612 - Oct 22, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    Wade chose to take a backseat to LeBron for the sake of the team and he said himself that its now LeBrons team, but don’t be misled if he wanted this guy can easily be a close second as the best player in the league! So if he’s underrated its by choice!

  11. rocirius - Oct 22, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    A healthy Ray Allen is much better than Chalmers offensively. It’s a wash defensively as long as Allen does not have to defend the point guard, which Wade is very capable of doing. Allen is underrated defensively, but he was a very good defender in Boston and he knows how to play team defense.

    • scalfor3 - Oct 23, 2012 at 12:31 AM

      Yeah, true. Ray will always be better on offense than defense, but it’s not like he’s a sieve out there.

  12. michaeljordanseviltwin - Oct 22, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    Dwyane Tyrone Wade, Jr. took a back seat to no one. He told the media repeatedly the last two seasons how he is adjusting his game to LeBron and taking a back seat but I watched both seasons and it simply isn’t true.

    In the Heatles first season they played a detrimental amount of isolation offense and were top-5 defensively. It worked well enough until they faced the only team with an effective zone and found that Wade/LeBron weren’t comfortable playing off the ball, cutting & passing when faced with a rotating defender like Chandler. The chemistry issues were on display as they lost the finals to Dallas.

    The second season was a breakthrough precisely because LeBron officially took over as the alpha male of the team. Dwyane didn’t make a conscious decision to relent control; rather his knee injury forced him to scale back his ball dominating and fearless dives to the basket. That meant the team’s path fell into LeBron’s hands and he was finally able to silence his critics. The team has a new pecking order now and Dwyane has no choice in the matter. If left to Wade I guarantee that he would challenge for alpha male again and cause strife.

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