Dwyane Wade turned in his second strong performance in a row with 25 points and 10 assists Sunday. The game before he became the first player since Allen Iverson 11 years ago to put up 30 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in a Finals game. At 31 years old Wade is within a year of when Iverson quickly slid from All-Star to out of the league using a same style of play.
Like Iverson, Wade is an incredibly quick player who was unstoppable driving past opponents, but does not have the bulk or outside shot to prolong his career once he can no longer do that.
The two stars have been very similar since college – players who put up huge steals and rebounds for a guard. But more importantly, they have been two of the most unstoppable players on the drive to the hoop as best measured by dividing free throw attempts by field goal attempts. In their final year of college, Iverson’s Free Throw Rate (FTA/FTM) was 49% and Wade’s was 50%, well above the 36% average in college and incredibly high for any guard:
|Iverson||G||FT Rate||STL||REB||PTS||Yr||Wade||G||FT Rate||STL||REB||PTS|
The stats in the tables for this article are pulled from information at Basketball-reference, which ranks Iverson as the 18th best player in history. A further look at the two players’ key figures from the age of 22 to 31 shows that Wade has been every bit Iverson’s equal during that 10-year stretch. In fact, he was worth an average of two more wins a year (10 Win Shares to 8 Win Shares) during those 10 years, with a better Free Throw Rate and Rebounds. Iverson was one of the greatest scorers and steals men in NBA history, and yet Wade even beat him out in those two categories four of 10 seasons at corresponding ages:
|Iverson||G||WS||FT Rate||STL||REB||PTS||Age||Wade||G||WS||FT Rate||STL||REB||PTS|
|22 to 31||67.1||8||41%||156||259||1904||26.5||22 to 31||67||10||47%||118||336||1645|
From the age of 23 to 25 Wade had an incredible run in which he got to the line more than twice as often as the league average (58%, 57% then 56%). Opponents used modern software to publicize any time Wade received a call he did not deserve – not hard to do when pulling from a couple of hundred calls a year – in a desperate attempt to allow him to get to the line a time or two fewer per game.
From 26 to 29 he kept up a very strong percentage of getting to the line, but with a notable falloff to between 44% and 50% each season. However, the big concern for Wade is during the last two seasons he had dropped to barely above the NBA average of 27%, registering only 35% to 39% the past two years.
When a thinner player like Wade or Iverson rely on driving to the basket and drawing fouls, the decline can be quick as they do not have the power game like a bulkier player like LeBron James and do not have the outside jumper to continue to pull up like Ray Allen.
The good news for Wade is that Iverson had one more phenomenal year – at the age of 32 – when he suddenly had his second best season of his career at 11.6 Win Shares and scoring 2164 points and coming up with 160 steals. The bad news is at the age of 33 those numbers dropped about in half and Iverson was suddenly a medicre bench player. By 34, Iverson was a complete liability on the court, and was cut by Memphis and then even by Philadelphia where he had his glory years within the same season.
The bottom line is Wade could be on the bench in two seasons and out of the NBA in three seasons, so the last hurrah could come during the last game or two of the NBA Finals, or next year.
|1||Los Angeles Lakers||34%|
|2||Oklahoma City Thunder||34%|
|10||Los Angeles Clippers||29%|
With Wade often playing hurt and not having the same ability to get to the line at will, the Heat have dropped to eighth in the league in their ability to get to the line as a team (FTA/FGA). The Oklahoma City Thunder tied for the NBA lead at 34% with the Los Angeles Lakers, who not only have Kobe Bryant – but the often fouled Dwight Howard.