Dwyane Wade impressed in his Chicago homecoming, but it certainly wasn’t vintage. More well-known for his attacking prowess in the paint, the perennial All-Star lit it up from behind the arc in guiding the Bulls to a 105-99 win over the Celtics in the United Center Thursday night.
Wade was 4-for-6 from distance, and finished with 22 points, six boards and five assists. The sharp-shooting performance continues a surprising trend that has seen Wade become the most prolific 3-point shooter since the start of last year’s playoffs.
Wade has often been maligned for his lack of range, and he was supposed to be a contributor to one of the worst shooting backcourts in the league alongside Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler, but he leads all players with at least 20 attempts in that span (including the 2016 preseason) with a 55.2 percent 3-point field goal percentage.
Wade’s resurgence started with a healthier 2015-2016 season that saw him play 74 games, the most since his 76 in 2010-2011, en route to a playoff spot without Lebron James and without Chris Bosh down the stretch. While health was more of a factor in that successful season than 3-point shooting, it’s his newfound range that can be a career saver.
Knee problems seemed to signal Wade’s decline, and seasons continued to be cut short while his explosiveness dwindled. His usual style of play doesn’t lend itself to helping those knee problems go away, as Wade is a playmaker in the attacking sense, often flying high at the rim and on defense, which is hard on those joints.
But if the sample size grows and he is still pouring it in from behind the arc, it is another way he can make plays for his team in a way that’s easier on his body. And it gives the Bulls something they weren’t really banking on—good long-range shooting. It is also a nice compliment to Butler, who can learn from Wade and be that vicious attacker who plays good defense.
That’s not to say Wade won’t have his moments of Euro-stepping around defenders for an acrobatic lay-in or chasing down a block in transition, but that’s vintage Wade now. It’s time for a reliable jumper to give both his team and his career new life.