The loss of LeBron James forced the hand of Pat Riley and the Miami Heat franchise this summer. The organization decided to offer a maximum contract to Chris Bosh to the tune of $118 million. That is a lot of moolah, especially for a player who was considered the third wheel of the former Big Three. This was the first big signing of the summer for the Heat, shortly followed by Dwyane Wade signing a modest two-year, $31.5 million contract.
Looking at sheer numbers alone, it would seem the Heat organization is looking for Bosh to be the No. 1 option going forward — and rightfully so. He is younger than Wade and also in better shape physically. But even if Bosh has a stellar year statistically next season, the Heat will go absolutely nowhere unless Wade plays a significant role going forward.
Wade will be relied on even more to jump-start the offense not only through his jump shots, but by also driving to the rim, something he hasn’t had to do as much over the last four seasons. Wade will also have to get back quicker on defensive lapses, especially against fellow shooting guards because LeBron won’t be there to cover-up his mistakes.
Starting 70 games next season will be the bare minimum for Wade, especially now that the Heat need star power more than ever. The luxury he had of resting over 25 games last season is gone. Even with Bosh handling more of an offensive role and the Heat bringing in Luol Deng, Wade will have to bear much more responsibility on both sides of the ball, especially as the primary ball handler.
Next season, there will be plenty of interesting dynamics occurring around the league, but none will be more intriguing than how the Heat bounce back post-LeBron with Wade returning to his role as the face of the franchise once again.