Greatest of All Time?
Is Dwyane Wade one of the greatest of all time? Other Wages of Wins Analysts may think so. A simple fact is titles do influence our perception of players. Let’s take a very simple example: Grant Hill. Is Grant Hill one of the greatest of all time? The common response to that is that he was a great talent that could have been an all time great if his career wasn’t hampered due to injury. That’s a polite way of saying no. However I contend if you argue Dwyane Wade is an all-time great then Grant Hill is as well.
Grant Hill and Dwyane Wade both entered the league at the ripe old age of 22 and both were drafted by equally abysmal teams. And here is how each performed early in their respective careers.
Table 1: Grant Hill’s Early Career (1995-2000) with the Detroit Pistons
*1999 Season Wins Produced Numbers are adjusted for an 82 game season. The actual Wins Produced for Grant Hill was 10.5.
Table 2: Dwyane Wade‘s “Early” Career (2004-2011) with the Miami Heat
When we account for the fact that 1999 was a lockout shortened season, we see that Wade in his eight year career has been about as productive as Hill was in his early six year career. The major difference is that Hill became a better player much quicker. Hill was a top 10 talent in the NBA right up until his injury cut him down in the 2000 season.
Wade started a little slower than Hill, but also became a top-ten caliber player. He was then hit with the injury bug as well. He seems to have recovered, and has been an MVP candidate and the best two-guard in the league for the last three seasons (yes, even better than Kobe).
The Difference in Decisions
Wade has also had the fortune of good players wanting to come to Miami while he has been healthy. In 2005 Shaquille O’Neal hopped on board just in time for Wade to hit his stride and win a title. In 2011 LeBron James decided to join forces with Wade. This helped Wade achieve post-season success and as a result get himself into the greatest of all time discussions.
Both Hill and Wade had very productive primes (the clock is still running for Wade) and have had four seasons as a top-ten talent in the NBA. When calling either an all-time great I would say neither has done enough . . . yet. Hill’s time is up and Wade may get there one day. I just want to wait before elevating an injury-prone player like Wade to the ranks of Michael Jordan or Clyde Drexler – or even Kobe Bryant – just because he’s had four great seasons.