Dwyane Wade is closing in on a storybook NBA career. As of Wednesday, the man we have grown to know as “Flash” will no longer be an NBA player, unless his Miami Heat manage to reach the playoffs.
While Wade has shown he still has much left in the tank, the three-time NBA champion is content on calling it quits. This retirement begs the question: where does Wade rank among the greatest NBA shooting guards ever?
While somewhat similar to Michael Jordan, Wade’s career ultimately pales in comparison to his Airness. And he and Kobe Bryant are similar, too. However, Bryant’s team and individual accomplishments outweigh Wade’s.
The next comparisons would be Allen Iverson and Jerry West, but Wade outshines both statistically and with his team accomplishments.
So, Wade being placing as the third-best shooting guard ever fits perfectly.
For starters, let’s examine his career numbers. Over his 16 years in the NBA, Wade averaged 22 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. While his numbers have dipped because of age and natural decline, in his prime years ( 2005-2013) Wade best showcased his true impact from a stats standpoint.
During that era, he averaged 25.4 points, 5 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game on 49 percent shooting. While his all-around game was a strength, his best was emphasizing efficient shooting. His ability to get to the basket while not settling for bad shots led to Wade eclipsing the 50 percent from the field mark three times in his career, while coming close an additional four times (49 percent and above).
Wade also made his mark as a defender, becoming the first player 6-foot-4 and under to eclipse 100 blocks in a season. In fact, he is the all-time leader in blocks for a player 6-foot-4 and under. He’s also the only player in NBA history with this stat-line to his name: 2000 points, 500 assists, 100 steals, and 100 blocks in a single season. With the likes of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Giannis Antetokounmpo becoming stat monsters, this record is perhaps his best feat to date.
But what ultimately puts Wade at No. 3 on the all-time shooting guard list is his championship pedigree. While Jerry West and Allen Iverson were more potent scorers (26.7 for Iverson, 27 for West), their lack of championships ultimately holds them back from leapfrogging Wade.
West was a paltry 1-8 in the NBA Finals, while Iverson only reached the Finals once, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001. Wade ended up winning three titles in five appearances with the Miami Heat. While the stats don’t tell the whole story, it makes it easier when you add in team accomplishments and what he did on the game’s biggest stage.
He has no shortage of accolades, boasting 13 All-Star appearances, eight All-NBA selections, three All-Defensive team selections, and three NBA championships. Alongside that, a 2006 NBA Finals MVP award. It’s hard to dispute someone not being at least in the same class with the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant with those accomplishments
Is he as accomplished as Jordan and Bryant, though? No. But, he’s definitely more accomplished than West and Iverson. While Wade could play longer if he wanted, he can rest assured that he will be ranked as the third best shooting guard of all time.
And yes, his career was better than Paul Pierce.