You can hate Dwyane Wade, and you can certainly hate the jerseys NBA teams wore Christmas Day (pictured). But statistically Wade and LeBron James came out of a Christmas-day win in Los Angeles as the only two players who are among the top 20 players in the league for a 10th straight season according to ESPN’s all-inclusive rankings (see the only 24 who have made it even 3 of the last 10 years below). Wade’s 11 of 17 shooting night gave him an incredible 54.1% shooting percentage – by far the best of any guard in the league and better than even Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant ever shot in a season – and he added six rebounds, seven assists and a third-straight game of three steals.
One assist came on a pass off the backboard finished by a left-handed dunk by James, and one basket came on a windmill reverse lay-up off a pass from James. NBA defenses rarely allow even MVP guards to shoot over 50 percent. Bryant has never shot even 47 percent, and even Jordan did not hit 50 percent in any of his last seven seasons. Wade never topped 50 percent until last season, when he hit 52.1 percent, but he has been even better this season.
We were among many to speculate that Wade might be breaking down last year, but while he is skipping some games with injuries he is almost as good as ever when on the court. His ranking as the 14th best player in the league so far is below his average ranking of between 7th and 8th over the past nine years, but during that time only James has been better with an average ranking of third. Bryant had averaged finishing one spot behind Wade per year during the past nine years, but will finally miss the list due to his season-ending injury.
Chris Paul is the only other player not to miss any years from the top 20, as he has been in all nine seasons he has been in the league and averaged two spots behind Wade in the rankings. Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant have averaged a slightly better spot than Wade WHEN they have made the top 20, but both actually rate worse due to both not being in the top 20 in two of their seasons (Nowitzki made it 8 of 10 seasons, Durant 5 of his 7 seasons since joining the league). Below, the 2005 season refers to 2004-2005, etc.
Statistically at least, Wade and James have statistically been the top two players of the decade, and if Wade can stay healthy for the playoffs, he may be adapting Mark Twain’s 1897 quote, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”
|Rnk||2005-2014 Best||% seasons Top 20||Ave Rank||Top 20s|
|3||Chris Paul (2006-)||100%||9.6||9|
|8||Blake Griffin (2011-)||75%||12.7||3|
|9||Kevin Durant (2008-)||71%||5.2||5|
|10||Yao Ming (-2011)||71%||9.6||5|
|14||Kevin Love (2009-)||50%||4.7||3|
|15||Russell Westbrook (2009-)||50%||9.7||3|
|16||Brook Lopez (2009-)||50%||10.7||3|
|19||Shaquille O’Neal (-2011)||43%||5.0||3|
|21||LaMarcus Aldridge (2007-)||38%||15.7||3|