Wade on the ascent - Heat star elevating his game at the right time



Miami  The true measure of Dwyane Wade's greatness won't be known for years.

However, if the early returns are any indication, the mercurial Wade could be destined for territory that the other members of his star-studded 2003 NBA draft class  namely LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh  can only dream about.

If Wade and the Miami Heat can finish off the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals  their first chance is Wednesday night in Game 5 at the Palace of Auburn Hills  Wade will become the first member of the NBA's next generation of superstars to ascend to the NBA Finals.

He'll also have done something that the league's current pound-for-pound best player, Kobe Bryant, never could  defeat the Pistons alongside Shaquille O'Neal. The Pistons thumped the turmoil-laden O'Neal- and Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals, ending the Lakers' championship dynasty.

While his coach, teammates and the Pistons are busy comparing him to the game's greats  the name's Jordan and Magic have been tossed around liberally  Wade is too busy enjoying the moment to worry about his legacy.

"I'm just the kid inside of me that loves to play the game of basketball, getting the opportunity to do it at the highest level and just trying to do my best," Wade said after torching the Pistons for a game-high 31 points in the Heat's Game 4 win Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. "Those guys, their names . . . Magic Johnson is a great player. I'm not even close to that. I've got to win a lot of championships to get there. I'm just a kid in a candy store right now, trying to have one."

Wade has turned these playoffs into his own personal showcase. He's shooting a mind-boggling 69.5 percent from the floor in this series against a team once heralded as the league's best defensive unit in at least a decade. He's shown a dazzling array of skills  no one makes more clutch shots or jaw-dropping plays.

He's done it all while finding the right balance between deferring to teammates and taking over a game from the still-mighty O'Neal, who's had other partners (Bryant and Penny Hardaway in Orlando) whose careers likely will be defined by their inability to do so.

"It's a different role for me playing with the great Dwyane

Wade, but it's a role that I've accepted," said O'Neal, a three-time Finals MVP with the Lakers. "And Dwyane is a great player. It would be foolish to have me shoot 40 times and let him shoot 10 shots. Dwyane

is going to take the bulk of the shots, I'm going to get the second amount, and we all accept that and roll with that. My numbers are going to be different, but it's all about winning."

And all about watching Wade become the transcendent player that many believe him to already be.

"He's a great player," O'Neal said in the understatement of the new millennium, "but he has a lot of room for improvement. And it's my job to make him the best player to ever play the game before I leave. I think I have that ability to do that, and I think he has the ability to become that."

Pistons coach Flip Saunders isn't so sure that Wade hasn't already become that player. He called him the most "dynamic player in the league right now."

And after watching his team beat the Cavaliers and James' attempt at dethroning the two-time Eastern Conference champions with an individual performance for the ages in the Eastern Conference semifinals, he's seen Wade crank it up another notch.

Wade has made backbreaking shots with Pistons defenders in his face time and again the past four games, making the Pistons drafting of Darko Milicic (instead of Anthony, Bosh and Wade) after James in the 2003 NBA draft a mistake of epic proportions.

"Wade's been phenomenal," Saunders said, highlighting Wade's assassin's work in Game 4. "The shot he made out of the corner with the shot clock coming down, and the shot  getting fouled at the end of the third quarter to get the two free throws that put them up two (after the Pistons had rallied from a 14-point deficit to take a lead) those are shots that are demoralizing from the standpoint that you play good defense for 22 seconds, and then he makes an unbelievable play.

"He's on an unbelievable roll. What he's shooting from the field . . . he's making unbelievable plays right now."

Wade is also playing with a sense of urgency, as his fourth-quarter command will attest, that only the great ones can conjure in playoff situations. Yet he does it all without playing the overbearing role of the know-it-all superstar.

"Of course Shaq wants to continue to define his greatness, and we just want to be a part of it," Wade said. "We're going to do everything in our power not to have that feeling that we had last year [when the Heat squandered a commanding series lead to the Pistons and lost Game 7 at home]. We're on the right page, but we've still got a lot of basketball left."
How do you guys rate Dwyane Wade and what do you think he has done for Miami? Personally, i love him. I think he's amazing and can score at will (at least it seems). He can't shoot three's yet but he's improving but he can drive/dunk on anyone in the league. I think he has great potential and we've only seen the start.
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Sultan of Swat
Staff member
Dwyane Wade is an amazing player, and he will only get better, and some people say that he wouldn't be that good without Shaq but I don't believe in that statement, people were really surprised when he was selected fifth overall by the Heat in the 2003 draft, but I wasn't he didn't have a stellar career at Marquette but he had lots of potential and the Heat scouts saw that potential. I agree that he's been improving is three pointers, and if he gets really good at that and becomes a better defender he'll be a very scary player.


When Shaq leaves, assuming Miami doesnt have any other dominant players, Dwyane is going to have to deal with double and triple teams nightly. He'll still be good but his field goal percentage will go down especially if he has to take 70% of the shots.

Dwyane Wade had Lamar Odom Eddie Jones and Brian Grant in his rookie season to help with the scoring. I cant really predict the future, but I have no clue who the Heat's center will be. Wayne Simien will be playing solid minutes by then, hopefully Dorell Wright will have evolved into someone respectful. The defense will always be locked on to Dwyane Wade.

Speaking of Dorell Wright, do you think Dwyane Wade will ever shift back to point guard if Jason Williams leaves? If Dorell Wright becomes a star player like everyone compares him to TMAC, will that be a basis for a lineup change?

As for Dwyane Wade and three pointers, He isnt bad at all. I think his percentage is horrible because he launches them at inopportune times. Usually you see him jack up a couple towards the end of a close game. Now normally those are the ones that you pray go in to the hoop. He also launches his fair share of buzzer beaters. Im not saying Dwyane Wade is water from behind the arc, but he isnt necessarily a 25% three point shooter. It would be nice if Dwyane Wade could splash down the three with consistency, but its also nice that he doesnt have to rely on his perimeter shooting to make an impact.