Top 50: Dwyane Wade, no. 3
The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.
by Khalid Salaam
One of the benefits of having a name like mine is that I learned at a young age not to be a follower. I’m never rebellious for the hell of it but I’m pretty much just gonna do me. So last year when I kept saying that Wade was the MVP, I meant it. I wasn’t trying to go against popular sentiment just to stand out and seem different. I just felt that his level of play coupled with having a rookie head coach, two rookie teammates as heavy rotation guys and a bunch of players who frankly wouldn’t have played on other teams was impressive. Really, I don’t know what more he could have done. Quietly DWade became a great help defender and even his man-to-man D was improved (and it didn’t suck to begin with).
All the players in the Top 5 have awesome stats — numbers that exist as tangible proof of their greatness, so to speak. With that being the case, maybe averages of 30 points, 5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 2.2 steals, 1.3 blocks, while shooting 49 percent and playing in 79 games doesn’t move you. But that isn’t true, is it? Three out of four people who just read Wade’s stat line just made the ‘wow’ face (you know when your mouth closes and your eyebrows raise while your head nods ever so slightly) regarding last year’s numbers.
Last year was Wade’s “y’all musta forgot” year, the one where he reminded all the people who wrote him off due to injury and whatever else that there not a single player better in the League than him. Same level, sure, but obviously better? No. I cannot be swayed from this opinion, so don’t try to give me some other dude’s stats or tell me how many wins some other team won. You put Wade on the Lakers and the outcome would be the same. Bron as well, for that matter.
Something I hate that’s happened in the League recently are the instantaneous, all bets are settled, early season conclusions. It’s like the Heisman Trophy (aka the biggest hustle in American sports), where a bunch douchebags decide who should win the award a month before the season starts and then spend the whole year trying to justify that person they pre-selected is in fact the best player in the country. By Thanksgiving, the MVP award was settled and those who didn’t fall in line were mocked. You couldn’t even bring up another name and if you did, you would be silently patted on the back as if to say, ‘run along and go play,’ like you were a school kid.
Well, not this time. I’m gonna start naming names this year. All these sportswriters and diarists (bloggers) who jump of the handle and by the second week of the season who claim to know everything will get called out. I’m about to be a media assassin (much respect to Harry Allen) out this joint.
As far as a win total for the Heat, I can’t say, really. I don’t think they can crack the 50-game mark, but I think they can get close, 48 maybe. I do, however, expect Wade to have an even better season than last. He needs Michael Beasley to stopping puffing (instead of taking two and passing, how about he take up a regular vice like internet porn or tweeting?) and play with the ability that we all think he possesses. If Beasley can take the load off of Wade’s shoulders, Flash likely will have an all-world season. And when that happens I won’t even say I told you so.
I’m classy, remember that.
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’09-10 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Brett Ballantini, Russ Bengtson, Toney Blare, Shannon Booher, Myles Brown, Franklyn Calle, Gregory Dole, Emry DowningHall, Jonathan Evans, Adam Fleischer, Jeff Fox, Sherman Johnson, Aaron Kaplowitz, John Krolik, Holly MacKenzie, Ryne Nelson, Chris O’Leary, Ben Osborne, Alan Paul, Susan Price, Sam Rubenstein, Khalid Salaam, Kye Stephenson, Adam Sweeney, Vincent Thomas, Tzvi Twersky, Justin Walsh, Joey Whelan, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.