One and a half years later, Dwyane Wade is back to what was his house during the first 13 years of his NBA career. Wade got traded back to Miami after the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to clean their roster during the NBA Trade Deadline. After his tumultuous tenures both in Chicago and Cleveland, Miami’s iconic idol is back in a totally reshaped Heat, in comparison to the one he last saw when he left in 2016.
A Time of Self-Discovery for Both Wade and The Heat
The beginning of the 2016-17 season meant a change for both Wade as a player and the Heat as a franchise. It was the split of what could have been considered the perfect marriage at the time. A marriage that brought three NBA championships and the foundations of what is now called “Heat Culture.”
Wade helped the inconsistent, unbalanced Chicago Bulls from last season advance to the playoffs while averaging 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game and having a 43.4 field-goal percentage in 60 games played.
The Bulls struggled that season to figure out how to manage the roles and playing time of a roster full of guards who are too codependent of having the ball on their hands: Wade, Jimmy Buttler, Rajon Rondo and Michael Carter-Williams. Meanwhile, Erik Spoelstra and his team were trying to transition into the post-Wade era. Something difficult to handle at the beginning; the Heat had an 11-30 record during the first half of last season. Then the team had a resilient comeback; they turned the table and had a 30-11 record during the second half of the season. But it was not enough to earn a playoff spot. The Bulls ended up on the eight seed in the Eastern Conference.
Not getting into the playoffs ended up being the best outcome for the Heat. It allowed them to have a high position on the 2017 NBA draft, in which they eventually picked Bam Adebayo, a versatile big man who fits perfectly into the Heat’s style of play.
Spoelstra used last season as a learning process to find a cohesive way to fit the individual talents of each of his players into a collective system. It worked out perfectly. Miami displays a 3-and-D system run by multiple play makers, who can play on different positions. There is not a main orchestrator on the Heat offense. Either Goran Dragić, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, James Johnson or Dion Waiters can run the offense perfectly. This is worth to mention because the Heat needed to evaluate that tactical aspect after Wade left the team. In the post-LeBron Heat, Wade had an usage percentage of both 34.7 and 31.6 during the 2014-15 season and 2015-16 season respectively, per Basketball Reference; so, eventually, both Wade and Dragić struggled at dividing the ball-possession time when the latter arrived to Miami.
Miami “Wade” County is Back
The Heat definitely have another offensive threat in the 14-year veteran. Something that they urgently needed due to Waiters’ season-ending injury. For the moment, it seems like the most reasonable move is having Wade coming off from the bench. That allows Wade to manage his playing minutes and provide a versatile interior offense to the second unit. But this will probably vary because of Spoelstra’s strategy to use different starting lineups; he has used approximately more than 15 different starting lineups during this season.
During Friday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Heat fans displayed a playoff atmosphere inside the American Airlines Arena. The comeback of the best player in Miami Heat’s history was a reason to celebrate. This excitement could be seen hours before the game in the merchandising side of the game:
The Miami Heat sold thousands of these Wade jerseys last night, made up 86% of all retail sales yesterday for team. Now sold out. Team CMO Michael McCullough says Heat working to stock up as fast as they can. pic.twitter.com/CyZn4Mv81q
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 10, 2018
The arena erupted in cheers once Wade got on the court. He had a very active start of the game. Hustling for rebounds and feeding Hassan Whiteside with a couple of alley-oops that could not be translated into buckets. Wade only made one shot out of six attempts, but it did not matter. Heat fans celebrated that three pointer like it was a buzzer-beater in a playoff game. This is what both Wade and the Heat needed for this season and what comes next the rest of the way. Things feel right in Miami’s basketball once again.