Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Barkley says D-Wade isn’t the player he once was: Agree or disagree?
Steve Aschburner: Charles doesn’t always make his observations in the most artful way, but as Flip Saunders likes to say, the truth can’t be controversial. Wade isn’t the same player he was six years ago (27.2 ppg) or even three years ago (30.2) and won’t be getting back there. All those hard landings probably have taken their toll, along with Father Time. But he’s not ready for the glue factory either. The season in which a player turns 31 hardly is the end – Wade got to the NBA at 21, not 18 or 19 – and he’s smart enough and skilled enough to continue the transition he’s already begun from thrower to pitcher. Any fallout from Charles’ comments likely is due to Miami hoping it could be criticism-free for at least a little while after winning those rings.
Fran Blinebury: I’m with Chuck. And that’s not a knock on Wade, but facing the facts of life. Father Time remains unbeaten. From the days Wade came into the league and especially when he was throwing himself all over the floor en route to the 2006 championship, we’ve always said he couldn’t play that way forever. So he can’t, and he doesn’t have to in the clear No. 2 role behind LeBron. He’s still an All-Star and there will be nights when he takes over and puts on a show. Just not as much. No shame or disparagement in that.
Jeff Caplan: I hate to say it, but the eyes don’t lie. D-Wade is not as explosive as he once was. He is, at least without doing the research to prove it, seemingly taking more jumpers than ever before. Wade has some high-mileage and hard knocks on his body. Maybe it will heal up over the season and he’ll get his bounce back, but I really can’t remember the last time I watched D-Wade play and some part of his body wasn’t aching or bruised or strained. But that hardly means he can’t be a major contributor to a repeat champion. He’ll find other means than his athleticism to outsmart opponents. And, really, let’s be real here, the guy’s averaging 20.2 points a game on better than 50 percent shooting. Pretty much every guy in the league would take that.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Of course Chuck is right that Wade is starting to lose his athletic ability. Wade is a month away from turning 31, has played a lot of long NBA seasons and into summers of international play. Why is this taken as such a shocking statement? The real question should be whether Wade still has the ability to make a major impact on a team contending for a championship. The answer to that is yes. I still expect very good things this season. He doesn’t need to be 24 years old for that to happen.
John Schuhmann: I’m not Dwyane Wade and I’ve never had knee surgery, so I don’t know exactly how he feels physically. Is he slowly getting back into shape or does he just have good and bad days? Beats me. I guess we’ll find out in the Spring. I know he looked pretty good against the Hornets and Hawks over the last few days, but I’m sure he can’t play like that every night. The good news is that he doesn’t have to, because LeBron James and Chris Bosh are still better than any other two-man combination in the league.
Sekou Smith: I agree that Dwyane Wade appears to be missing some of the explosiveness we saw from him as recently as three or four years ago, but that’s a part of the process of aging. Father Time takes his toll on everyone, even the future Hall of Famers. The days of Wade carrying the load he did before LeBron James and Chris Bosh showed up ended the moment the that laser-light show kicked off in Miami announcing the league’s newest power. The reinforcements were designed to take pressure off of Wade, who spent some of his best years physically playing his guts out for teams that realistically had no chance of making it out of the first round of the playoffs. What we can expect out of Wade this season is the occasional flash of the man we once knew as Flash. And for the Heat’s stake, he needs to show up more often in the playoffs than he does before then. Anyone asking Wade to do anything more on a consistent basis needs a new pair of BluBlockers. Because the days of him dominating the floor on a nightly basis are over.