By now, NBA season previews are rolling out. Countless basketball sites, podcasts and television shows are breaking down all 30 teams, projecting how each will fare based on additions and subtractions. I would like to do something different and focus on teams through the fish-eyed lens of their respective most intriguing player or players. I continue with the Chicago Bulls.
Of all the big names changing teams, seeing Dwyane Wade in a Bulls uniform is by far the weirdest. Flash bolted to Central City for $50 million over two years after a standoff with Pat Riley and the Miami Heat over dollars. Wade, who's never been a team's highest-paid player, sought one final major payday from Riley as gratitude for the pay cuts he took to bring in LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Riley, like any smart GM, assessed Wade as an asset going forward. Wade is 34 with aging knees and a body that's fallen hard many, many times. It's been years since he's played in even 85 percent of the games, so Riley felt he didn't deserve that much money. As shrewd as that is considering what Wade means to that franchise, that's the nature of sports contracts — as I've stated before.
Wade, the disgruntled South Beach superhero, has moved to play for his hometown Windy City Bulls. There, Jimmy Butler has emerged as a star and elite shooting guard — currently, better than this version of The Flash. But if there is one thing that Butler needs to develop it's that heroic moxie that comes from knowing and believing you're superhuman. Flash (heh) back to various Wade game-winning buckets. The inner belief radiates from his body. Butler is very good, but he can definitely learn how to be the man with Wade as his tutor.
The problem that may arise is that Dwyane Wade is prideful, and he may have something to prove. If he were to attempt to force his way into the No. 1 option, that may be detrimental to the Bulls' playoffs chances. There will already be a spacing issue, as neither Wade or Butler are very good jump shooters, especially from long range. Rajon Rondo being there also helps to close down driving lanes, as he's been given no respect when shooting from outside.
What will this season be about for the Chicago Bulls? Will Wade be determined to show he's close to his 2009 near-MVP form? Heroes have an affinity for hiding their deteriorating abilities. Wade managed to do so in Miami before 2015 because LeBron James was there to save, well, everything. The two championships in 2012 and 2013 do not happen if Wade is unwilling to relinquish his role as No. 1 to LeBron and fill in during those occasional moments he needed help. Jimmy Butler, while an All-Star in his own right, is not LeBron. Therefore, it is possible that Wade may not be so willing to take a backseat, especially after being spurned by Riley.
The task will be on Wade, who must both mold Jimmy Butler into a quality superhero and be an effective do-gooder. Before The Flash slows to a halt, he must stand alongside the other All-Star wing player and be a dynamic duo in the Windy City. We'll see if he has the legs to do it.
Poemer. 8-time Hug Champion. Pick&Roll Enthusiast. Guardian of Logic and Tact. Apocalypse's good Brother. Collector of muted souls for Mt. Filtermanjaro.