Dwyane Wade will go down as one of the best shooting guards and players in NBA history. He is a three-time champion and a future Hall of Famer. However, he just turned 32 years old and it seems like he is playing on borrowed time. Wade continues to have soreness in his surgically repaired knees and it always a question as to if he will play on any given day. While Miami continues to street that it is part of a maintenance program to keep him healthy heading into the playoffs, it is looking more and more like these are serious issues.
After missing four straight games, Wade played on Sunday for Miami against the San Antonio Spurs. For just the ninth time in his career and first time in over five years Wade came off the bench. He had eight points, five rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes for Miami and gave the organization something to ponder for the future. Should they put him back into the starting lineup and continue to change their rotation when he is out or make him a sixth man like Manu Ginobili and Jamal Crawford?
Ginobili and Crawford are two perfect examples of guys that are one of the best players on their respective team, but come off the bench to lead the second unit. James Harden did it for a while with the Oklahoma City Thunder to allow them to put in a group full of role players with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook while he came off the bench and was able to be the number one option when he was in the game. For Wade, he could come in late in the first quarter, which is the time he usually subs out, and play alongside LeBron James for a few minutes. When the second quarter begins, he would be the No. 1 option and allow them to rest James and Chris Bosh for a few extra minutes.
Bosh has been exceptional with Wade out of the lineup. He has played his best stretch of basketball for Miami over the last seven games and has taken on a bigger role in the offense. With all three players set to opt out this offseason, the change to putting Wade on the bench would allow James to see the big picture and have to worry less about carrying Wade for the rest of his career. Bosh is young enough to be a great number two option to LeBron for the next five or six years and he is one of the most durable players in the league. The most games he has missed in a season with Miami is nine and a lot of that came towards the end of the year when Miami was resting their starters.
It would be in the best interest of the Miami Heat to convince Wade that he should come off the bench for the rest of his career. Allowing Miami to fill their lineup with shooters around James to start the game and keep Wade rested into the fourth quarter would be the best blueprint for them to continue to compete at a high level. Pat Riley has proven he can put the necessary pieces in place for the Heat to be great, but it is up to Wade to accept the role and allow them to thrive.