With the 2012/13 season around the corner, SportsKeeda presents the NBA Top 20 – a countdown of who we predict will be the NBA‘s 20 best players in the upcoming season. Six of the finest basketball writers on this website – Karan Madhok (hoopistani), Sabarinath Sankaranarayanan (sabarinath.sankara), Siddarth Sharma (sidbreakball), Siddharth Srikanth (darthsid), Sidhartha Patra (sidhartha), and Souvik Roy Chowdhury (souvik) – put their minds together to vote for the NBA’s best, the players who will be most “valuable”, not just to their team but in determining the course of how the upcoming season unravels. Enjoy!
No. 7: Dwyane Wade
When you rank the finest players of this generation, where would you put Dwyane Wade? The man formerly known as Flash has won no MVP awards (and never will) and has almost always been overshadowed by players slightly better than him. With Kobe Bryant in full swing, he was never the best shooting guard of his era. With LeBron James dominating the league, he has never even been the best player from his draft class. With age catching up to him and the next generation of young up-and-comers like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (and maybe Derrick Rose) snapping at his heels, he is not likely to remain in the NBA’s pantheon for much longer.
With players like Dwight Howard and Chris Paul making high-profile moves across the league, his popularity has taken a dip as well. And in recent years, he hasn’t even been the most important player for his own team. Dogged by injuries and inconsistency, the forgotten superstar of our times starts the new season at age 30. There are doubts about his durability, about his talent, about his jump-shot, about his speed.
For a man who has time and again accomplished more than he was ever supposed to, these new doubts are nothing but fresh challenges.
For Dwyane Wade, it’s time to rise up again.
Last season was Wade’s worst – in terms of scoring – since his rookie year. He averaged just 22.1 points per game during the course of the regular season and bumped it up slightly to 22.8 PPG in the playoffs, his lowest numbers since 2003-04. If there was any debate between who was to be the Heat’s leader in a championship run between him and LeBron, the discussion was put to rest in 2012/12. LeBron was 1, Wade was 2. And that is why, in our finals standings, he falls outside the NBA’s top five, simply because he has fallen so much further behind his own teammate.
But despite all the questions, doubts, and concerns, Wade starts the 2012/13 NBA season with a second NBA championship ring on his finger and with his knees fully rested in a rare off season without basketball. Wade skipped out on the USA Olympic team to rehabilitate his injury, and now looks to be in perfect shape to bring the explosive bounce back into his step. He claims his jump-shot is better too. He’s older, wiser, rested, and crowned champ again, a proven winner returning as a favourite to win as a leader in the league’s most stacked squad, running along with the league’s best player.
And yet, on any given night, Wade can easily be the best player in the entire NBA, doing the sort of things that remind people why he’s been one of the most feared basketball names in his nine-year career. LeBron James was the key reason behind the Heat’s championship. But Dwyane Wade provided more than enough sparks throughout that memorable playoff run to make sure that his team stayed on the right track and came back from any and every deficit.
As LeBron becomes the engine of the team, Wade will begin to shine as the Heat’s heart and soul, the leader who can inspire his squad to keep taking the hit and keep bouncing up to hit back. He did it as a relatively unknown college player who carried Marquette much further than they should have gone in the national tournament. He did it even after falling to fifth in the 2003 NBA draft to rise to become one of the league’s best players, a champion, and a Finals MVP by the end of his third season. He did it when he missed most of a season due to injury and came back by becoming the USA’s best player in the Beijing Olympics, and in the following season, becoming the NBA’s scoring champion.
And he did it to become champion again in 2012 after being heavily criticised for his inconsistent play all year.
There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to bounce back again, and that he will assist LeBron in bringing the reigning champions in contention for a title yet again.
SportsKeeda NBA Top 20
20. James Harden
19. Chris Bosh
18. LaMarcus Aldridge
17. Pau Gasol
16. Dirk Nowitzki
15. Blake Griffin
14. Tony Parker
13. Andrew Bynum
12. Russell Westbrook
11. Carmelo Anthony
10. Kevin Love
9. Derrick Rose
8. Deron Williams
7. Dwyane Wade
Catch up with all our features on the SportsKeeda NBA Top 20 here.