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News » Can Wade do more for Heat in 2009-10?

Can Wade do more for Heat in 2009-10?

Can Wade do more for Heat in 2009-10?MIAMI (AP) - Dwyane Wade's numbers were better than ever last season.

Here comes his encore opportunity.

A Miami Heat offseason that seemed stagnant at times, stormy at others is ending, with practice opening Tuesday. Quentin Richardson has arrived, Jamario Moon has departed, and Michael Beasley has returned after a monthlong stay in a Houston rehab facility for substance abuse and other treatment.

Those story lines all pale alongside Wade: Can he be that good again?

"He definitely played at a very, very, very high level last year," Heat co-captain Udonis Haslem said. "You've got to think that eventually, it'll take a toll on him. But we have other guys on this team who, if need be, can put the ball in the hole on some nights when Dwyane might need a break. I think we might have to take advantage of that this year."

A year ago, starting with scintillating run in Beijing, Wade returned to the level that led Miami to the 2006 NBA title.

He played 79 games, finished with career-best averages of 30.2 points, 2.2 steals and 1.2 blocks, plus nearly topped his previous high by averaging 7.5 assists per game. He even seemed to get stronger as the year went along, averaging 33.9 points after the All-Star break, 5.6 points ahead of the No. 2 scorer on that list, league MVP LeBron James.

It all added up to a 43-39 record, 28 more wins than the previous year, and the No. 5 seed for the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Heat president Pat Riley suggested Wade hasn't even reached his ceiling yet.

"For some reason, today, we talk about the players as though you're overusing them, too hard, for too many minutes. Well, that's not my opinion," Riley said. "I think Dwyane has the ability to truly be great for another six, seven, eight years, if God blesses him with the health that he needs."

There's at least one person who doesn't want to see Wade match his stats from last season.

That would be Wade himself.

Wade lobbied the Heat to make some roster upgrades earlier this summer. The biggest reason he cited was that he didn't want to feel pressured to put up monster numbers night after night.

"I feel like I can, but I don't know if other teams want to let me do it," Wade said in July, when revealing that he will likely exercise his right to become a free agent after this season. "I'm not good with it. I mean, I like scoring, but I don't want to score 40 or we're not in that ballgame. I want to be able to play the game and not have to worry that, 'OK, if I don't get 40, this could be a blowout."'

The offseason came and went - so far, anyway - without the major acquisition Wade clamored for.

Unless something significant happens before the Oct. 28 opener against the New York Knicks, this year's Heat roster won't look much different from the team that lost to Atlanta in seven games in the first round of last season's playoffs.

For his part, Riley is confident that Wade will stay in Miami for years to come.

"We're going to be able to build a team that Dwyane wants to be part of," Riley said.

Wade logged 3,048 minutes last season, ninth-most in the NBA. He had a career-high 20 double-doubles, shattered his previous best with a 2.18-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, and had 13 games of scoring at least 40 points - as many as James and Kobe Bryant had combined.

For as good as he was on the court last year, Wade's off-court life remains an issue.

Lengthy divorce proceedings from his high school sweetheart are continuing, and he's facing lawsuits from former business partners claiming he walked away from various ventures. Part of Wade's response included filing a $100 million libel lawsuit against one of those scorned partners, and the sides are now in mediation trying to hammer out a settlement that could cost Wade millions.

Wade has spoken before of basketball being his refuge, the court being his sanctuary.

It was last year. The Heat hope it can be again.

"We'll find out," Riley said.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: September 24, 2009


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