Is This the Decline of Dwyane Wade?

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Dwyane Wade is a world-class basketball player. He is an eight-time all-star, 2006 NBA Finals MVP, an Olympic gold medalist (2008), and a two-time NBA Champion (2006, 2012).

However, Wade’s scoring average has gone down 3 PPG from last season, but one would assume that it is because he is sharing the ball with LeBron James on the Miami Heat. The decline was actually occurring before the arrival of James in South Beach, though. Since averaging 30 PPG in 2008-09, Wade’s scoring average has gone down in each of the past four seasons.

However, Shane Battier and Chris Bosh have both been able to increase or keep their PPG from last season while playing with James, who takes great pride in making his teammates better. So why is Wade struggling?

Well, “struggling” may not be the right word. But, Wade is putting up 19.7 PPG, almost a whole 6 points off of his career average of 25.0 PPG. His assists (4.6) and rebounds (3.9) are also down from his career averages (6.1 APG, 5.0 RPG).

Charles Barkley had comments about Wade that, although they didn’t go over well with James (who told Barkley to “shut up”), carry some truth.

“The toughest thing for Dwyane Wade is understanding that he’s starting to lose his talent and now he has to learn how to play below the basket. The toughest thing when you’re a great player or very athletic, when you can’t jump over a building anymore, you have to learn how to play.”

Wade just doesn’t seem to be the superstar that he once was. He no longer headlines ESPN with his dunks and highlights, instead only appearing when throwing alley-oop passes to James.

Last season, Wade pretty much “gave” the team to James and told him that the Miami Heat would go as far as he could carry them. James took them all the way to the 2011-12 NBA Finals and won the first of what looks to be many NBA Championships for the King. In 2012-13, the Heat are the top team in the Eastern Conference at 18-6.

It is hard to argue with the results but, personally, I miss the old D-Wade. No longer a superstar, Wade is becoming a shadow of what he once was in his prime. Maybe James will be able to bring back the superstar in his best friend down the stretch this season.

Regardless of whether or not Wade returns to his old form, he will play a big role in the Miami Heat’s ability to repeat as NBA Champions.

Follow Thomas Duffy on Twitter @TD_Knicks for articles, news, and all things NBA.

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