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Dwyane Wade has been great at many things on the basketball court. But one skill has always escaped him: 3-point shooting.
This isn't breaking news to anyone who has followed his tenure in the NBA. Wade is a career 29 percent 3-point shooter, a sorry figure that places him 311th among the 315 players in NBA history who have shot at least 1,000 3-pointers.
But Wade has adjusted. Starting in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, Wade kicked the habit for the most part and generally expelled the 3-point shot from his regular jump-shooting diet. In 2013-14, Wade's propensity for shooting (and making) the 3 hit a career nadir; he took only 32 trifectas and made only nine during the entire regular season. Five years ago, he might have stumbled into making nine treys in a single week. Those days are long gone.
But here's the crazy thing about all that: Opposing defenses still glued themselves to Wade off the ball like he's the next Steve Kerr.
This isn't just a theory; there is quantifiable evidence of this phenomenon. According to data provided by STATS LLC from cutting-edge SportVU cameras that track the movement of the ball and every player last season, defenses stuck to Wade on the perimeter as if he were an elite 3-point shooter.
The question is, why?
During one of last week's practices, Wade was on the Miami Heat's practice court upstairs at AmericanAirlines Arena. The team has been struggling to find its identity in the wake of LeBron James' sudden departure this summer, and Wade had just wrapped up a long, arduous practice meticulously going over coach Erik Spoelstra's defensive principles. Wade and his teammates are tired, and the general mood feels grim after a string of hard losses.
But in this moment, Wade is laughing. He's giggling because for so long he thought he was going crazy, seeing something on the court that had to be a figment of his imagination. Opposing defenses just won't leave him alone off the ball. To him, this didn't make any sense. He's not a 3-point shooter.
"Lately, I've been seeing everybody start doing this more," Wade said as he turned his back pretending to be a defender gluing himself to a perimeter shooter. "And I'm just like, 'Damn, did I just start shooting 3s and I didn't know about it?'"