It doesn’t take an expert to tell you that signing Dwyane Wade in the offseason was one of the best moves the Bulls have made within the last few years. It doesn’t take an expert to tell you that Wade has arguably been the second best shooting guard (even the best some years) since he came into the league in 2003. No expert is required to inform you of all of Wade’s accolades. Wade is a first-ballot hall-of-famer on the tail-end of a storybook career. A Chicago-native having spent the first 13 years of his career down in South Beach, Wade brings plenty to his hometown team. A look at the stat-sheet shows an expected drop in a lot of the statistical categories for Wade, which is to be expected from an aging veteran joining a new team.
The terminology used above is definitely a slight to Wade without looking at the stats provided. As you can see, Wade has definitely been having a good year; an increase in average rebounds and steals per game, let alone the career year he has having from beyond the arc. Wade has seen some drop-off in some of the other categories. In the NBA, far too often, we rely solely on metrics and numbers. Things such as how effective a player is in certain situations, and other advanced metrics such as per 36 minutes. Some things a player provides cannot be measured in any amount of statistics or advanced metrics.
One thing that Wade provides that cannot be quantified is veteran presence. Wade has been around the league longer than most other players. He has been through various lows and has experienced the highest of highs as a three-time NBA champion and two-time runner up. As the Bulls are planning on supposedly “trying to focus on getting younger” in the upcoming seasons, Wade can bestow his vast knowledge, or the Way of Wade, on the Bulls players & coaching staff.
The biggest help Wade will be will be becoming a mentor to fellow Marquette-alumni Jimmy Butler, Chicago’s franchise cornerstone and one of the best players in the NBA (at this point, it’s silly to argue that point as it comes down to how you rate a player and what you use to evaluate a certain player). Wade recognizes how big of a role he has on Butler’s development. Having been the cornerstone of a franchise for the better part of a decade, the Flash can help Butler on the fast-track to success. Wade had an interesting yet insightful analysis of his relationship with Butler:
I’m a chef, he’s a cook. I’m trying to make him a chef. He’s on a fast track to doing that.
Butler has been tapping into Wade’s seemingly limitless fountain of knowledge all season long, and they have formed a quick bond that seems to have extended beyond the court and off the practice floor. What better way to form chemistry and build trust between two new, high profile teammates than watching movies and hanging out together?
The league is on notice … What everyone is seeing this year, I think everyone has been a little surprised, but we all knew he could play. You’ve seen the potential … He’s a complete player and it’s for real. It’s not one week of doing it. He’s been doing it all season and I don’t see him slowing down.
Butler is certainly a player that will play with confidence, and he’s certainly got an ego, which can be a good and bad thing in the NBA. As Butler’s confidence is on the rise, his play will reach new heights; it’s undetermined if he’s even in his prime yet. With a guy like Wade tapping into the greatest parts of that ego, Butler’s confidence in himself will only make himself a better player and the Bulls a better team.
Going back just over four months ago to when the Bulls originally signed Wade (and Rajon Rondo), a lot of experts and fans questioned the signing(s). A few days earlier, Gar Forman and John Paxson echoed a sentiment of a youth movement coming to Chicago. After the two signings, it was unclear where the direction of the team was going. A lot of people questioned bringing in an aging veteran with limited shooting capabilities and many nagging knee troubles. Many people didn’t think that Wade would be able to contribute as much on-the-court as his two-year, $47 million contract might warrant.
Fast forward the same time frame and the intention of the signing is much clearer. Obviously, the Bulls are sitting at a decent 10-7 record and nothing has imploded yet this early in the season, so all judgement might be better served being saved for later on in the season. However, thus far through the season, it’s clear that the Bulls offered Wade that amount of money just as much because of what he offers off the court as much as he does on the court.
There are a lot of basketball terms that you could use to describe what Wade brings, cliché terminology such as veteran presence and experience, and it seems somewhat silly to throw those cliché terms around in this situation, but there’s not many other words you could use to describe just what Wade has meant to Chicago. We’ll definitely have to reevaluate this analysis two months from now, but as for now, I think Wade has been a phenomenal signing, well-worth every one of the $47 million spent.