There has been this theory running around lately that the Miami Heat can win a third NBA title (in a row I might add) even if Dwyane Wade doesn’t play. The truth? As decent as Toney Douglas might be as the plug in guy at shooting guard, LeBron James isn’t entering that three-peat elite club without Wade playing in the NBA playoffs.
Some things are beyond numbers, and even if the Heat have won five of their last six games, all without Wade, and have gotten used to life without him, this team isn’t built to survive without one of its big three.
It obvious when LeBron James isn’t playing, especially that Wade is no longer the superstar, at least in ability, he used to be. Chris Bosh, when forced into it, can still be a number one scorer on a team and go to guy, but without James’ impact on the floor, defense and offense, the Miami Heat are no better than any of the playoff teams in the Eastern conference, and certainly inferior to what we have out West.
Is Wade injured or just getting some rest right now? The truth is somewhere in between probably. He has already missed 25 games this season, in which the Heat have gone 17-8. Not bad, but clearly not as dominant as they can be with Wade, who doesn’t have to be a superstarish in order for the Heat to be at their best. He just needs to be able to move on defense, which sometimes is apparently bothering him, and be enough of a distraction to opposing defenses so the Heat’s love for working James on the weakside can work.
Toney Douglas isn’t a bad player to pick up. He’s another player that can add a bit of offense and isn’t terrible playing in the shooting guard position and can even run the point when necessary, and with Norris Cole’s decline he might even become more useful. But he’s not a very good defender, and certainly not someone who can fill in for Wade, scoring in double figures only twice all season.
With more than $20 million invested in Wade, Miami are simply not equipped to handle his absence. No team in the NBA can lose a player of that caliber and simply find a midseason free agent to fill in for his numbers and influence.
This might be LeBron James’ team now – it has been since the moment they understood how to make the trio, and especially their duopoly work, somewhere in that 2012 NBA playoffs. However, even as James can take over games and dominate on both ends of the floor like no one else in the league can, no Dwyane Wade or a very limited version of him in the postseason also means no NBA championship.