Steph Curry isn’t looking for tips yet. And no one’s intimidated that he might enter the All-Star Three-Point Shootout. But Dwyane Wade’s getting his three ball warmed up and ready to go.
“My game translates anywhere,” Wade told reporters after Wednesday’s second day of Bulls training camp workouts. “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. One thing I’m trying to get used to is that three-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.”
Forget about Robin Lopez’ shaggy dog look or Doug McDermott’s No. 11. The newest sight among the Bulls to many around the NBA may be Dwyane Wade going from Flash to current fashion, the three-point shot.
There haven’t been many “worsts” associated with Dwyane Wade in his Hall of Fame to be NBA career. Wade’s three-point averages the last few years have been so poor there’s a picture of a man turning away afraid to look on the statistics site for Wade’s percentage. But with a playoff three point shooting surge last spring, it may be that an old guy has plenty of new tricks to show. As George Burns once said, “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” Dwyane Wade continues to find ways to stay young and relevant.
Wade smiled a little at the thought of being asked to shoot the three because, well, as great as he has been, a three-time champion, 12-time All-Star and one of the dominant NBA figures of the last decade, there have been firing squad victims asking for Wade to line up from long distance.
The flashy Wade was known in his prime as an explosive, attacking, leaping player, confounding an entire Dallas Mavericks team in leading his Miami Heat to the 2006 championship. Wade was, if not reckless, a daring player who at maybe 6-4 challenged the basket and the behemoths and often was splayed out afterward. He evolved to a high level offensive sidekick for LeBron James for two more titles with a slithery, effective driving game and a short jump shot long on attitude. That game was good enough, he emphasized Wednesday, to still remain a 20-point per game scorer and among the league leaders the last few seasons.
It also wasn’t so much he can’t make a 23 foot nine incher, but it seemed to work just as well much closer to the basket.
“In the playoffs they take things away, right?” Wade noted about his play. “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. In the playoffs, they get a long time to prepare for you so you may be doing something and they’re going to take the next thing away. So you have to have counters. 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?”
But then last spring as Wade led the Heat through a pair of playoff rounds, he shocked the basketball world shooting 52.2 percent on threes, 12 of 23. During the regular season, he made seven in 74 games. Then he makes 12 threes in 14 playoff games. And clutch ones. Steph Curry made more threes last season than Wade has made combined since he came to the NBA in 2003.
But as the proud and defiant Wade indicates, he led the league in scoring one year and for seven consecutive seasons averaged more than 25 points per game cumulative. So, after all, why start to shoot threes?
Yes, Wade is bright enough to know three is more than two.
But he also knows a made two is worth more than a missed three.
It’s also a further confirmation for the Bulls that there are many ways to succeed.
It has been much noted that the Bulls three primary players, Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo, have not been exceptional three-point shooting threats in their careers. So Wade said he was pleased to hear that coach Fred Hoiberg wants him to shoot those threes, and Wade says he has no doubt he can do so successfully.
After all, if you were averaging 25 points one way, why make a dramatic change? But you’re never too old to try something new, and Wade also implied the Heat pretty much limited his three-point opportunities in their style of play. No more.
“I have the ability to knock it down,” Wade insisted about the long ball. “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. Shooting it when it’s there, not hesitating. And like I said, that’s refreshing for me because I’ve never been told to shoot it. This is the first time someone is telling me to shoot the three ball. So it’s cool. Getting them up a little bit in practice, getting comfortable with it.’’
And, yes, he agreed he is no Doug McDermott.
The way Wade sees it, actually, McDermott could be the breakout player of this Bulls season.
Though NBA players know one another, no one ever truly knows another until they live with them, sort of like marriages, which, by the way, actually happen to be the leading cause of divorce. Though Wade seems to think this pairing is starting to work out. Now that Wade has been able to watch Bulls players up close as teammates, when he was asked about perhaps an early training camp surprise, he pointed to McDermott.
“I don’t really want to use the word surprise, because we’re all in the NBA,” said Wade. “But one guy I’ve been impressed with so far in camp is Doug McDermott. I think the way he shoots the ball and how fast he shoots it, but (also) the way he puts the ball on the floor as well and shows his athletic ability. Just by playing against him and now seeing his confidence in his game, the kid’s tough. He’s having a good camp and hopefully it will continue because we’re gonna need him. We need him make shots, and we also need him to do what he does, put the ball on the floor, be smart. Just be a smart player. He’s going to have to come in and play the two, the three, the four, different positions. So it will be a big year for him.”
Wade offered some observations on other things Bulls, like his favored introduction.
“Just, ‘From Chicago,’ something like that,” he said. “I thought about the whole Marquette University thing; it’d be cool to have two guys coming out from Marquette University. But I think coming back to the city, to say I’m from Chicago will be good for me. I did it so many different ways in Miami. I did it from Robbins one year, I did it from Marquette, I did it from Chicago. I know what they sound like.”
Wade said in Miami the players didn’t get to decide the order of introductions, and Wade said he doesn’t care, though Jimmy Butler could be introduced last among the starters.
And Wade is becoming first in the hearts of many Chicagoans with his delayed Chicago debut, one the Bulls once believed would come in the 2003 draft.
“I think the biggest thing is excitement for the season,” Wade said about the response he’s received locally. “I think a lot of fans are excited about what the possibilities could be, good or bad. People are already tuning in. We wanna take the ones who are thinking about the good things and make them proud and the ones thinking bad, turn them around and get them on our side. It’s been very good since I’ve been in this city. I get a lot of people saying the same thing, ‘Hey, man, we love that you’re here, wish you were here 10 years ago.’ Some people say we love that you’re here. Some people say it’s weird seeing you in a Bulls uniform. So I get a lot of different things. More importantly, I’m happy that I’m here. I think this organization and teammates, they’re happy that I’m here. And my wife is happy that I’m here.”
So are the Bulls in moving on from a disappointing last season.
“You ask the guys that were here last year, how rotten it was,” said Wade. “You want to hear from their perspective, whatever it was last year from the standpoint of losing. You don’t do that. I come from a different place and a different culture. Things are done differently different places. So I sat down and listened to guys. But the thing is, some of the things they talked about I know are not going to take place. Not while I’m here, not while Rondo’s here, not while Jimmy continues to grow as a leader. You talk about last year, but at the same time last year doesn’t matter. We have a different core, and I think our culture is fairly different. We have guys now, Rondo’s won a championship, I’ve won championships; we demand respect on the court. We’ve got a lot of young guys as well, so they’ll listen. We’re not a team with a lot of veteran guys that are kind of stuck in their ways. They’re all ears, and that’s a good thing for this team right now.
“Last year I averaged 19, the other 21.5,” Wade noted. “I can score, that’s fine with me. 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.”
The Bulls are saying their own thanks, one, two and maybe three times as often, for Dwyane Wade.