Dwyane Wade’s Aggression Allows Miami Heat Bench to Flourish
Dwyane Wade’s play as of late can only be summarized in one word: aggressive. Over the course of the last four games, Wade has averaged 23 points on 63 percent shooting from the field, coupled with 6.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. These numbers are very similar to his career averages, which is a great sign for the Miami Heat training staff because this means that Wade is finally healthy.
If you haven’t noticed already, the players coming off the bench for the Heat have been extremely effective in helping to close out games, alongside one or two members of the Big Three. Typically, it is Wade closing out the quarter with the bench unit, and the results of this have been superb.
The most noticeable difference in Wade’s game with this more offensively destructive bench unit is his assist output. Wade’s season average of 5.5 assists per game is the highest output he has had since the 2009-10 season, the season before LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach, and Wade was responsible for the bulk of the heavy offensive lifting on a mediocre Heat roster. This just proves that Wade trusts in his teammates enough to give them the ball instead of taking matters into his own hands, and it’s not just Wade who is beginning to trust.
In the last victory the Heat secured against the Toronto Raptors, 10 different players for the Heat played at least 14 minutes, and Udonis Haslem, the 11th in the rotation, played nine minutes. That is a lot of trust from Erik Spoelstra in his bench, just based on the minute distribution alone. Some of Miami’s most effective lineups have been featuring mostly role players, with either Wade or James thrown in for good measure.
Thirteen of the 15 players on the Heat roster are a “plus” on the season, and Wade is just sixth on that list. This again shows just how deep the defending champs really are in their quest for a third-straight title, and just how effective they can be with just one superstar on the floor. Wade seems to have become the primary benefactor of the extended playing time with the bench, which is why his season averages are lining up with his career ones.
With a healthy Wade and such deep firepower coming off the bench, the road to the NBA Finals will become a little less rocky for the Heat. All that needs to happen now is for certain bench players riding the long end of the pine to get playing time, just enough to build cohesion with the second unit, on the off chance a starter gets and significant playing time is thrown their way.