Over the past few weeks, rumors regarding Dwyane Wade’s future with the Chicago Bulls have ramped up to a fever pitch.
Most recently, our very own Alex Kennedy reported that the 12-time All-Star was frustrated due to feeling mislead by the Bulls’ front office.
“Wade’s frustration stems from the fact that he feels the front office misled him about the direction of the team,” Kennedy wrote. “As his June 27 deadline to opt-in to the final year of his contract approached, the veteran shooting guard wanted assurances from the front office that the Bulls would field a competitive team during the 2017-18 season. Wade didn’t want to opt-in and then watch the franchise enter a rebuilding period. Sources close to the situation say that Wade received those assurances. Jimmy Butler was also given the impression that he wouldn’t be traded, according to league sources.”
Wade’s exasperation doesn’t exactly defy logic. After all, the current Bulls 2-guard is 35 years old. He’ll turn 36 midway through next season. Why would he want to be a part of a complete rebuild?
Odds are, he won’t be. Whether it happens before training camp or at the buyout deadline in February, one thing is near certain: Wade won’t be a Bull for much longer.
The question is, where will he wind up?
Will he return to his second home in South Florida and rejoin the Miami Heat? Or will he chase one last bit of glory before his career ends, and join his buddy LeBron James in Northeast Ohio?
In actuality, he will likely have even more suitors than that. Wade’s mere name still carries weight, and he’s coming off a campaign in which he put up solid averages of 18.3 points, 4.5 boards and 3.8 assists per night.
However, he only suited up in 60 games on the year for Chicago, and his efficiency was lacking. Is the potential interest in the future Hall of Famer actually warranted?
Father Prime still has game
According to NBA Math’s play-type profiles, Wade added value in just two of 10 offensive categories last season: post-ups and as the pick-and-roll ball-handler.
In the former classification, the Marquette product created 0.89 points per possession (PPP), which placed him in the 71.8 percentile – a far-above-average pace.
Meanwhile, in the latter play-type, Wade scored 0.92 PPP, putting him in the 61.6 percentile.
Despite his dwindling athleticism, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard hasn’t lost much of the sturdiness that made him such a beast on the low block in his prime.
Still weighing in at about 220 pounds, Wade has a distinct size advantage on most of the guards who have to feel his wrath down low. He’s comfortable backing down, backing down and backing down until he reaches his spot, and even more comfortable putting up a baby hook shot over his left shoulder.
And as a counter, he has the weapon every aging scorer needs in his arsenal: the fadeaway jumper.
What’s more, Wade still has the ultimate understanding of how to set up teammates. His 3.8 assists per contest were the sixth most among shooting guards in 2016-17, and his work scoring out of the pick-and-roll also allowed him to set up rolling bigs and spot-up shooters out of such sets.
Wade may not be the destructive force he once was, but he’s got more than a bit left in the tank.
Downside of signing Father Prime
For all of the good the legend still brings to the table, there remain plenty of drawbacks to signing Wade.
Is he willing to accept a bench role on a contender? With the game on the line, will he demand the ball, taking it away from more in-their-prime options?
Last season, the Bulls were 4.8 points per 100 possessions worse with Wade on the floor. In comparison, during the minutes he sat on the bench, Chicago outscored their opponents by 2.2 points per 100 possessions, per NBAWowy.
Wade’s finishing near the rim is partially to blame for his drop in efficiency. For the year, he shot 53.7 percent in the painted area – a lower clip than the likes of Elfrid Payton and Jordan Clarkson.
Further contributing to his issues, the former Heat stud attempted a whopping 6.3 mid-range jumpers per game, connecting on just 39.6 percent of them.
Couple that with his lack of a three-point shot (not a new development), as well as his fluctuating effort defensively, and you get the full picture of an ineffective, high-volume player.
Wherever Wade does end up, it’s all but certain he’ll need to come off the bench to actually do damage.
If he were to choose Cleveland, it wouldn’t be logical to sit the floor-spacing JR Smith in favor of the floor-shrinking veteran. Likewise, were Wade to pick returning to the familiarity of Miami, Heat brass wouldn’t remove Dion Waiters, who just signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the team, from the starting lineup, just to appease the local hero.
Wade can absolutely be an effective reserve next season. However, were he to start, his inefficiency would hurt his future team far more than it would help.
If he accepts that truth, he could be a key piece on an elite unit. But if he doesn’t, things could get ugly fast.
You can follow Frank on Twitter @frankurbina_.