Dwyane Wade's Christmas day game may end up being his signature performance of the season, leading an undermanned Heat team without Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts to a win over LeBron's Cavs. Wade poured in 31 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds and an emphatic-as-hell block on Kevin Love.
His play, however, was pretty much right in line with what we've seen from Wade all season. Wade has been consistently turning in great performances, but his efforts are flying under the radar with LeBron back in Cleveland and the Heat struggling at 14-16.
Wade is currently 11th in PER, ahead of the likes of Marc Gasol, Damian Lillard and Jimmy Butler. He's 6th in scoring, and of the top 30 scorers in the NBA, he's the only guard shooting over 50 percent. The efficiency has continued even with Chris Bosh, himself putting together a strong campaign, currently sidelined with a calf injury.
Of course with Wade, it comes with the "when healthy" caveat. He's missed eight games, seven due to a hamstring pull. Otherwise, his knees look better than they've ever been, and the absence of LeBron has not sent Wade's career into the abyss.
It's certainly not the Wade of old — you won't see him regularly splitting pick-and-rolls for thunderous dunk down the lane. Instead, he's working out of the post, hitting midrange shots at the elbows and baseline, and when he shoots the occasional three, he's making them at a 39 percent rate, a huge improvement for a career 29 percent shooter from behind the arc.
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Wade was certainly hateable the past few years. The flops, his long periods of rest, and constant complaining to refs were not very endearing, especially when LeBron shouldered the burden of a historic deluge of criticism and pressure. Wade hasn't necessarily rid all of those ugly things from his game, but he looks to be genuinely enjoying being the top dog in Miami again (and at the very least running back on defense.)
It seems like an eternity ago that Wade was considered one of the top two or three players in the world. He'll never reach that peak again, but for a small, 32-going-on-33 guard, he's making his case for being a top-10 player in the game.