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D-Wade is in no man's land. He is the lone superstar (is he really a "superstar?") on the Heat now. The Heat just acquired Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Pat Riley dubbed Marion and Wade the next Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Patrick. Patrick. Patrick. Puff, puff, pass, my brotha. Marion and Wade aren't and won't sniff the lethal combination of Jordan and Pippen. Good try though, Patrick. Better luck next time.
It's obvious. Dwyane Wade needs help. He needs it in a very bad way. Banks will fill the gaping hole that is the point guard spot. Marion takes some of the pressure off of Wade with his energy filled game. Wade and Marion will definitely make the ESPN's top ten highlights of the day, but will they win games? They'll get a couple. Marion's game is self motivated. He's the ultimate hustle player. The Matrix will fill up the stat sheet and play great defense, even though he is slipping ever so slightly this season. Marion will not take the offensive load off of Wade's shoulders. The former Sun will get his 21 points, but will those points be impactful? Probably not. His points will come in the flow of the game. But when the game is on the line, can you, without question, count on Marion coming through in the clutch? No, at least based his past playoff performances. Marion has a habit of disappearing in pressure situations. It has happened far too often. Will Wade trust him in those situations? That remains to be seen.
Wade might get some more help via trade. HOOPSWORLD has a somewhat speculative article that quotes sources talking about Miami's next move:
Mike Miller To Miami?: Pencil Mike Miller as the next guy traded, or so he believes. Miller has told people close to him that he fully expects to be traded before the Feb. 21st trade deadline, and according to sources close to the situation it's likely going to be to Miami for Jason Williams' ending contract or Ricky Davis depending on who you talk to. Nothing is ever done until it's done, but if Miami does trigger the deal, the HEAT will have radically improved themselves without ever hitting free agency. Why would Memphis consider such a move? Word is the Grizz would get cash from Miami in the deal and ultimately buyout Jason shedding yet another guaranteed deal and setting up the Grizz to be one of the biggest players in free agency (and likely Chicago's biggest nemesis in keeping Ben Gordon). The HEAT are not the only team with eyes for Mike Miller, there are other suitors (Miller could be Dallas' fallback plan). It seems if the HEAT and Grizz are serious about a deal, there doesn't appear to be much in the way of it happening before the 21st.
Here's another trade involving the Heat via HOOPSWORLD (here's the link, in case anyone wants to know: http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=7356):
Something For Nothing: There has been a lot said this week about the Magic and their quest to add some size before the post season. The reality is the Magic are flawed. They are terribly flawed because without Tony Battie, the Magic cannot seem to stop anyone in the paint. Chalk it up to guys out of position or too much offense on the floor, but the Magic need some beef and they know it. Otis Smith is as coy as they come about making deals, he never shows his cards and almost no one knows what he's really thinking – anyone who claims to know what Otis is working on or willing to do is crazy, Otis doesn't work that way. What has surfaced is other teams saying they have gotten calls. The HEAT have gotten calls on Udonis Haslem, the Magic would love to have him, but so would a few other teams namely New Jersey, New York, Houston and Washington. The Magic have the pieces – it's going to take JJ Redick leaving in any discussion involving Udonis – Mark Blount could be had for peanuts, but Udonis would have to yield a real piece. The Magic would likely have to cash in a draft pick or two to get Miami really talking. The Magic cannot trade their 2008 first round pick; they can draft a player and trade that player later, but NBA rules prohibit trading consecutive picks. That's not to say there isn't a deal there, because if Otis got serious the HEAT want to clear cap room especially if they are bringing in Mike Miller. The Magic won't steal Udonis from Miami for a whole bunch of reasons, but if they want him – sources close to the HEAT hint that Miami is open to talking. The easier deal to make might be Chris Wilcox from Seattle and that's not going to cost the Magic JJ Redick, just a ton of ending contracts. The Magic are looking for something for nothing, which likely rules them out of something big, but you never know what can happen at the deadline.
Let's address the first speculative rumor. Jason Williams or Ricky Davis and possibly a future first round pick for Mike Miller? Not exactly out of the question, but I think Heat would need to add Daequan Cook for it work. The Grizzlies will want a young prospect along with an expiring contract, based on the Gasol trade. Cook is the logical choice to fit this profile. Based on that article, seems like Mike Miller is there for the taking, if the Heat are aggressive. The addition of Mike Miller playing along side Wade and Marion could get very interesting. Miller is one of the best shooters in the NBA. He would give Wade more room to operate, as opponents will have to honor Miller's ability to score and shoot the three pointer. If I'm not mistaken, Miller's deal expires when Wade's deal does. Wade finishing his career in Miami is not a given. I'm quite sure he would love to finish in Chicago, where it all started.
The Grizzlies get another potentially explosive scorer in Daequan Cook. Cook didn't exactly live up to the billing at Ohio State. I haven't personally seen too much of Cook in the pros to tell you anything in particular that sticks out about him. But he was pretty inconsistent at Ohio State. Found something on the Draft Express website about Cook:
Daequan Cook was the highest ranked prospect on our 2007 mock draft coming into the camp, and while he didn’t consistently play to that level, he showed flashes of how dynamic a scorer he can be, putting everything together in his final game for what was one of the most dominant individual performances here. Cook already can score the ball at an NBA level, and with the trend towards undersized shooting guards of late, he has a very good chance to make significant contributions for a team in his future. The most notable thing about his scoring ability is how he can hit a shot with a hand in his face and how he’s so strong and able to hit shots nearly effortlessly from long range, as easy as he does from 10-15 feet out. Cook showed some nice ability with his floaters and pull-up jumpers from mid range, but he didn’t really get to show how deadly he can be hitting from long range when he gets on a roll, something that’s tough to do here when you’re playing in five-minute shifts and plays aren’t being run for you.
In terms of things Cook brings to the table other than scoring, he’s not really going to wow you in any other area just yet. He shows some nice vision and passing ability at times, but he doesn’t have the making of being a point guard or even a combo guard unless he makes some drastic changes, though he should be a pretty good passer for a two-guard at the next level. Cook did a solid job on the defensive end, but at 6’4, he’ll be at a bit of a disadvantage at the next level, even with his good physical tools. The area Cook needs to work on the most would definitely be his ball-handling, as being able to create for himself would definitely take his game to the next level, and it’s something many teams would want an undersized scoring guard to possess. He can do some nice things off one or two dribbles, sometimes more, but doesn’t look very comfortable when handling the ball for much more than that, and he may have trouble with that at the next level.
Cook projects as a late first or early second rounder if he remains in the draft this year, as all indications say he will. Some teams may shy away from him because he still has things to develop and because of how the final half of his freshman season turned out at Ohio State. But for whatever team that does take him now, before he has the chance to fully develop and rise up the draft charts, something he’d likely have done had he gone back to school, they will have pretty good value to look forward to a few years down the road, if Cook doesn’t make contributions sooner. It’s tough to see Cook falling very far into the second round, if he even does, just because it’s not easy to leave as dynamic a player on the board for long.
Daequan has the potential to be another Jamal Crawford. Not bad at all for the Grizzlies. Adding another young pup and an expiring contract along with a possible future first round pick, will make the Grizzlies look more enticing for a potential buyer. That's what this deal would be really about if it happens. I can see the Grizzlies biting on the offer of Ricky Davis (once acquired, buyout is possible; could the Spurs sign him once that happens? Probably not. Just a thought), Daequan Cook, and a future first round draft pick. It would be another fleece in the minds of other GMs around the league, but both teams get exactly what they want.
The next rumor involves the Heat trading with the Magic. This has more to do with the Magic than the Heat. I doubt the Heat would accept a JJ Redick package for Udonis Haslem. That package is centered around Redick, a possible future #1 pick, and expiring contracts. The Heat will want more. The Haslems of the world don't come around often. A big man who can defend, run the court, rebound, and has a jumphook and 15 footer in his offensive arsenal is rare breed these days. Can you name any that are Haslem-like at $6 million or less? As that rumor says, acquiring Chris Wilcox might be easier to acquire. For the Heat, the Kings might be a suitable trade partner. Ron Artest can be had. Artest for Haslem and a filler? That could very much be a reality very soon. The Kings need a veteran big man and Haslem provides that. Would Pat Riley gamble with acquiring Jermaine O'Neal? I doubt it happens, but it's worth a thought.
Now, to the point of this article, which is, can Dwyane Wade evolve? Can he take his game to the next level? Life without the Diesel will be tough. It will be something he has never faced before. Sure Shaq has been out with injuries, but you knew there is possibility of him coming back and being productive. That possibility is no more, now that he is in Phoenix. Can Wade make his teammates better? That question is the most important part of his evolution. Can he make the Blounts, Wrights, and Barrons of the world obtain larger contracts the way Kidd has done it throughout his career? See Kenyon Martin. See Mikki Moore. Wade is a little one dimensional on offense and the desire on defense isn't there. So lets tackle the offense first.
Wade can play the one or the two. He can pass with the best of them. Solid decision maker. Solid midrange game and can finish at the tin. But can Wade create his own shot off the dribble? Sure he can create his shot with the use of a pick. But can he do it without a pick? I have yet to see him do it. That part of his game needs to get better. An improved post game would do wonders, especially when he's running the point position. Improve his shooting behind the arc. He has been dreadful at that. Wade has good form, so he should be able to get a little consistent at shooting the three. Lastly, will Wade find the medium between dominating the ball and getting his teammates involve? That will take time. It won't happen overnight. Wade is relatively unselfish by nature. So this phase should begin to take form rather quickly, than...say...Kobe Bryant. It's all about being efficient.
Defensively, Flash lacks desire. He lacks that mentality to get after it on this end of the floor. Sure, he makes the occasional highlight weakside block, but his one-on-one defense is terrible and lazy. No lateral movement. No activity or physicality. He certainly has the tools to be a lockdown defender, at least the point guard position. On occasion, he'll step up his game, especially against he likes of Lebron James and Detroit Pistons. Sadly, I don't see him getting better at this. That "want to" just isn't there. There is no competitiveness on this end of the floor. I could be wrong though.
With all of that said, Dwyane Wade should be fine and will be fine. His defense will probably continue to be below average, but I believe he'll adjust on offense and as the leader of the Heat. That swagger will comeback. And Flash will evolve into a bona-fide superstar, if he hasn't already. Is Flash a "superstar"? I guess that's for another day.
Just my opinion.
I thought I'd share this quote from Linas Kleiza on being involved in trade rumors for Ron Artest:
"I do what I do," Kleiza said. "Some things are out of my control. If it happens, it happens. Everything happens for a reason. I read a good quote by (Dallas guard) Jerry Stackhouse. He said, 'These checks cash in all the states.' "
Hilarious. That is just priceless.