In the latter half of LeBron James' time in Miami, Dwyane Wade's performances appeared to decline sharply. With the ball out of his hands, Wade was scoring less, and he functioned more like a participant of the Heat offense than the main engine driving the team.
Now, LeBron is gone. Suddenly, Wade is back to his old self. According to the Miami Herald, Wade knows exactly why:
“I got the ball in my hands."
It's a somewhat surprising revelation since James bolted South Beach for Cleveland. While Wade's career seemed to be in serious decline -- his scoring dropped, and he missed 28 games in last year's regular season to keep his knees and body fresh for the playoffs -- Wade now seems like his old self.
That lends credibility to the notion that squeezing three superstars onto one team can dull the full impact of their respective skills. Teammate Chris Bosh has made comments in the past that playing with James kept him from affecting the game as much as he was capable of.
This season, Wade has seemed to shave years off of his career. He's averaging almost 20 points and leading the Heat in assists. Wade is also very efficient, shooting 51 percent from the field.
After ranking 128th in the league last season in touches per game, Wade is now 25th. And he's still keeping his minutes low, averaging around 32 per game. It's worked for the Heat, who are off to a 5-2 start.
Compared that to LeBron's Cavaliers, who are 3-3 and still struggling to fit their starring pieces together.
Wade also credits a dietary change over the summer that helped him cut weight and take some of the stress off of his knees. He also adopted a new training routine that so far is paying dividends.
And while he savors the two rings he won with LeBron's Heat, Wade seems content to move on to a new chapter of his life.
"I'm just enjoying life right now,” Wade told the Herald. "I'm enjoying this team and enjoying the opportunity to play in the NBA once again for another season, and sometimes you realize how blessed you are and don’t take things for granted."