What to Expect From Dwyane Wade, Quarter by Quarter
September 6th, 2009 by Jon Nichols

As a follow-up on my piece on LeBron James, I’ve decided to take a look at another superstar: Dwyane Wade.  Like James, Wade is a prolific scorer who makes his living close to the basket.  How does Wade change his offensive style as the game goes on?  Let’s take a look:


As you can see, I made one change from last time.  For Wade, I included offensive possessions that resulted in him taking shots from the free throw line.  The reason for this is that close shots might be underestimated because of the frequency that forays into the paint lead to fouls.

Like James, as the game goes on, Wade increases his attempts from beyond the arc at the expense of close shots and a bit of midrange.  Even if we assume every trip to the line came off a close attempt (which would be very questionable, especially considering non-shooting fouls that occur after the opposing team is over the limit), the trend is still the same.  In the fourth quarter, Wade takes almost three times as many three-pointers as he does in the first.  Like I suggested with LeBron, fatigue could be a factor, as could adjustments made by the opposing defense.

The bigger question may be: are these adjustments by Wade justified?  Let’s take a look at the efficiencies of three’s, midrange, and close shots for Wade:


Here we see a major difference between Wade and James.  While the latter gets worse on three-pointers as the game goes on, the former gets better.  Remember, that was the major concern with James.  Despite it becoming a less efficient shot for him, James favors the three-pointer more and more as time elapses.  Wade gets much more accurate from long range, while his efficiencies in the other two shot types decrease slightly.  This means his increase in three-point attempts makes more sense.  In fact, Wade is a pretty darn good three-point shooter in the third quarter.

Can we try to optimize the shot selection for an NBA player?  Nobody knows how to balance a player’s offensive game better than the player himself, so I don’t think we should try.  Still, we see that LeBron’s in-game adjustments don’t seem to make sense like Wade’s do.  Whatever the reasons, it appears the Heat do not suffer to the same extent as the Cavaliers (based on the individual performances of Wade and James alone).

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