Don't Forget About Wade
By Brian Martin
On Sunday, the Miami Heat tied their all-time franchise record with their 14th consecutive win, defeating the New York Knicks 99-93 and avenging a pair of 20-point losses from earlier in this season.
Which means tonight, when they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV), they're out to make history.
Throughout the course of Miami's win streak, the spotlight has focused squarely on LeBron James, who has been playing at an incredibly high level. But James' brilliance, as it turns out, has overshadowed the efforts of Dwyane Wade, obscuring just how great an impact the man formerly known as Flash has had on the Heat. Let the numbers tell the story.
|Category||Wade (team rank)||James (team rank)|
|PTS||24.0 (2)||28.9 (1)|
|REB||6.1 (3)||7.9 (1)|
|AST||5.9 (2)||8.3 (1)|
James leads across the board in the per-game stats, only emphasizing how central he has been to the Heat's success over the past month. But Wade's numbers are rather impressive as well, considering he is playing alongside someone on such a tear.
|%PTS||29.1% (2)||32.8% (1)|
|%AST||32.4% (2)||41.9% (1)|
|%STL||31.7% (1)||26.2% (3)|
Two items of note here. The first is the fact that James is scoring nearly a third of the Heat's points and assisting on nearly 42% of the remaining 67% of team points he's not scoring himself. The second note is Wade's steal percentage, which leads the team at 31.7%.
|OffRtg||119.4 (2)||118.8 (4)|
|DefRtg||101.3 (4)||102.2 (6)|
|NetRtg||18.1 (3)||16.6 (4)|
|+/-||175 (1)||166 (2)|
|USG%||31.8% (1)||29.2% (2)|
|PIE||17.2% (2)||24.0% (1)|
Here we see that Wade is actually ahead of James in a number of key advanced stats -- including offensive and defensive efficiency, raw +/-, and usage rate. In fact, Wade's usage rate ranks as the fourth-highest in the league, trailing only Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant (among players playing in a minimum of 15 minutes per game). However, the PIE stat (which measures a player's overall statistical contribution to a game) heavily favors James.
The point here is not to say that Wade has been more important that James -- he clearly hasn't, both by the numbers and with the eye test. But with so much attention going toward to the accomplishments of James, the performance of Wade during this 14-game stretch has gone largely overlooked.
The Heat's win streak also coincides with Wade's increase in efficiency as the season has progressed. His on-court OffRtg and NetRtg have both gone up with each month of the season, including an astounding 120.3 OffRtg and 17.3 NetRtg in February, when the Heat went 12-1.
While half of the Heat's wins during this streak of have come by more 10 points, there have been some close games -- and thus, clutch situations -- during the run. In fact, 10 games have featured clutch time (last five minutes, including OT, +/- 5 points). In those situations, Wade's efficiency numbers are off the charts.
It makes sense that Wade's efficiency numbers are so good in the clutch, when you look at his quarter-by-quarter stats during the streak. The fourth quarter has been his best period across the board.