Dwyane Wade has always had eclectic tastes in threads, but considering the career adjustments he’s had to make, the 34-year old might decide to be a tailor when he hangs up his Way of Wade kicks.
Going from point guard to shooting guard after his rookie year? No problem.
Assuaging the sensitive ego of Shaquille O’Neal after O’Neal’s rocky breakup with Kobe Bryant? Child’s play.
Allowing LeBron James to take over his team and his city after two seasons where he averaged 28 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals? Sure, since it meant more rings.
Adjusting to his knees robbing him of his transcendent explosiveness? Excuse him while he walks to meet the media with both knees wrapped in ice — while wearing a smile.
Being introduced first, second or last? Doesn’t matter, as long as Tommy Edwards says “from Chicago” as a nod to Wade’s hometown roots.
So in making the biggest geographical change to date, moving back to Chicago after 13 years in Miami, Wade is prepared to shift again — even if it means being a 3-point shooter, even if it means playing different roles to suit the changing needs of this roster.
“My game translates anywhere,” Wade said after Wednesday’s morning practice, “I’ve played with so many different players before. I’m not worried about that. It’s me trying to understand offense, understand what we’re trying to do. Get to know my teammates. But I know where my sweet spot is, when to get aggressive, etc. One thing I’m trying to get used to is that 3-point shot is going to be open a little bit more for me, and coach is telling me to shoot it. That’s a little new era for me.”
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Bulls fans probably remember Wade hitting his share of devastating 3-pointers against them over the years, even though his 386 career makes only account for .05 percent of his made field goals.
There was the four-point play in Game 5 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals at the United Center when Wade’s Heat stormed back late to clinch a trip to The Finals. Very few can forget the heartbreaking, buzzer-beating running triple after a blindside steal from John Salmons in the 2008-09 season, so it’s not that he lacks the ability.
The Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors found that out last spring when he hit 12 in 14 playoff games for the Heat.
“In the playoffs they take things away, right,” Wade said. “In the regular season, you play so many games teams sometimes don’t get a long time to prepare for you, so they may try and take one thing away.”
The logic was followed by a little hubris, earned considering he’s risen to such heights without having to rely on it.
“For me a lot of people have talked about me not shooting threes, but no one has been able to take away what I wanted to do. So why would I do something else?” Wade queried. “But then when you take it away I have the ability to knock it down. I’m not Doug McDermott. I’m not Niko (Mirotic). But I’m comfortable with the shot, and I’m going to shoot it. I know it’s going to be there, so I have a better chance of knocking it down. Coach has been on me about it.”
Wade will have to take the shot to keep defenses from sagging too far down on Jimmy Butler drives, and the hope is Butler goes back to shooting 38 percent from the long line as he did in 2014-15 as opposed to the 31 percent he shot last season.
For things to work in a potentially awkward situation, Wade has to be willing to step a little outside himself and seems prepared to.
“Normally I had to be the guy that would put it on the floor, but more so than that just pick my spots,” Wade said. “Understand when to be aggressive, but I’m a play-maker as well. I’m always looking to make plays for my guys.’’
Wade understands Fred Hoiberg’s offense is more equal opportunity than isolation-based but knows the instances will come when he must be the primary scorer — particularly late when he’s one of the league’s premier fourth-quarter scorers.
“Last year I averaged 19, the other 21.5. I can score, that's fine with me,” Wade said. “I'm willing to do whatever it takes. Scoring is one of those things that comes natural. It just depends on how high field-goal percentage I shoot. I'm not concerned about that. If coach wants me to score, then thank you.”