Dwyane Wade was once considered in the company of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. When he carried the Heat to the Finals, it would not have been absurd to say Wade was better than Bryant and James. All things considered, it is interesting to see how far Wade has fallen in the span of two short seasons.
In Sunday's Miami Herald, Dan Le Batard blamed the lack of success on Pat Riley's construction of the team. That is undebatable, considering the team is the worst in the league. For the most part, Le Batard was correct. That is, until he tried to make the following point:
There isn't much of a difference between Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Paul Pierce and Wade. They all would have won with Shaquille O'Neal. The past decade, in one way or another, has belonged to O'Neal and Tim Duncan -- the huge dudes. But now you have Reggie Miller using the standings and teammates to say that the Heat would be a playoff team if it did nothing more than trade Wade for Bryant, the present consensus best player in the world.Kobe Bryant would never allow his team to finish with the worst record in the NBA, let alone miss the playoffs in the lowly Eastern Conference. Bryant has been left out of the playoffs just once in his career. The Lakers finished with a 34-48 record in 2004-05, largely due to injuries forcing Bryant to miss 16 games. For comparison sake, Wade and the Heat are 11-50 through 61 games. That is take it to a new level.
Never mind that Bryant hasn't been out of the first round since O'Neal left and had a trade-me temper tantrum this offseason. And never mind that Wade might look a lot like Bryant right now if he had Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and that Lakers bench. Wade's turnovers are up and his percentages are slightly down, yes, but that might have more to do with not trusting terrible teammates than anything else.
Le Batard is correct in writing that Bryant has never made it out of the first round without O'Neal; however, it is not fair. In the 2006 playoffs, the Lakers lost to Phoenix in seven games. Bryant averaged 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists with 49.7% shooting. Bryant's supporting cast consisted of such greats as Lamar Odom, Smush Parker, and Chris Mihm. These were the other leading scorers for the Lakers, not the random scrubs on the end of the bench.
The fact that the Lakers even made it to the playoffs is remarkable!
That was the same year that Dwyane Wade willed the Heat to a Finals victory. What were Wade's playoffs averages in 2006? He averaged 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. Interestingly enough, on 49.7% shooting. When Wade was at his best, he was still equal to Bryant's lesser games!
Last year, the Lakers lost in five games. Bryant averaged 33 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Again, how is he to blame?
Arguing that Dwyane Wade needs a better supporting cast to make it to the playoffs is entirely correct. The fact is that Wade is not good enough to carry them 82 games. History has shown that is not the case for the NBA's best player, Kobe Bryant.