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Good To Have Flash Back

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Twenty games into the season, it seems reasonable to confirm what both we and he forewarned this summer: Dwyane Wade is back with a vengeance.

Flash gave us an inkling of this when he tore up international competition during the Olympics and mentioned that he felt observers around the league had written him off because of his injury problems.  This only added to the guilt of someone (yours truly) who realized during the Olympics that he had been heading in this direction himself, more concerned with Wade's 95 man-games lost due to injury over his first five seasons than anything else.

There is no guarantee Wade stays completely healthy this year, and we of course won't know until season's end whether or not he can be that durable.  But as far as his play when he is on the floor is concerned, only one description comes to mind: wow.  The man is on another level right now.

Wade poured in 38 points last night to lead the Heat to victory over Oklahoma City, marking the ninth time he has broken 30 on the season.  That's in addition to eight other efforts of at least 20 points.  In 20 games.

Watching Wade do what he has done so far makes it even more amazing.  As has been the case throughout his career, he isn't exactly demanding that opponents stay honest on him from beyond the arc, taking three treys per game and making just 26.2 percent of them.  Instead, he is continuing to fight his way inside and show no ill effects of the injuries that have hampered him since the Heat's championship run in 2006.  It seems that two or three times a night, this guy makes a move going to the basket - splitting two defenders for a windmill lay-up, elevating from just inside the foul line for a dunk, finding a second wind to elevate again while in the air - that makes my head spin.  He doesn't amaze with brute strength the way LeBron James does, but Wade's agility and and grace combined with plenty of strength of his own makes him a sight to behold.  His first step is so good and his mid-range jumper just deadly enough that he doesn't need to stretch defenses to commit to guarding the three-point line in order to be effective.

The really great part of Wade's play this season has been the fact that his game appears more complete than ever.  He is back to shooting the basketball efficiently, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field, getting to the line 10 times per game and putting up a true shooting mark of 57.6 percent.  His 28.9 points per game lead the league, and he sits at seventh in the league at 7.7 assists per game.  That's no accident as Wade's ability to get in the lane and draw multiple defenders has provided no shortage of easy mid-range looks to his Miami teammates, particularly Udonis Haslem.  Grabbing nearly five boards per game as a 6-foot-4 off-guard is nothing to be ashamed of either.

Wade looks newly committed on the defensive end as well.  He is playing tough man defense and still has a knack for coming up with the big play, averaging 2.4 steals per game (good for third in the league) and an astounding 1.8 blocks per as a two-guard.  More significantly from an overall defensive standpoint, according to 82games, opposing shooting guards are putting up an effective field goal percentage of just 47.3 percent against Wade and taking 20 percent of their field goal attempts from inside (as opposed to 52.2 and 36 for Wade).

He in just his third season removed from being crowned NBA Finals MVP.  He is a four-time All-Star in five seasons.  He is the unquestioned leader of the Miami Heat.  Now, Dwyane Wade is healthy again and reminding us that when he is, he's one of the best (and most watchable) players on the planet.

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