This is what the NBA summer of 2010 is all about. Along with LeBron, Dwyane Wade is the only other player who can alter the orbit of nearly a dozen franchises and the hope of millions of fans around the Association this offseason.
Even though only a few teams can realistically even dream about signing LeBron and Wade, nearly every other dollar of available cap space hinges on where they go.
The other major prizes of the summer, the Joe Johnsons (here) , Chris Bosh's (here) , and Carlos Boozers (here) , all depend on LeBron and Wade to either open up the door as a future teammate, or to cause frantic scrambling among runner-ups now in need of a consolation prize.
I had a conversation with my brother-in-law the other day about Wade. He's a relative newcomer to the NBA universe, and he was wondering where Wade ranks in the pantheon of current basketball stars, what makes him tick, and what all the general hubbub is about.
My explanation to him sums it up rather nicely, I think:
"LeBron James is the most physically gifted and dominating player in the league. He can get to the basket whenever he wants, and is one of the best passers around.
Kobe Bryant still has to be considered—despite the last two debacles in Oklahoma City—the best closer in the game, who also uses his drive, experience, and superior defensive abilities to remain an elite player. Kevin Durant has the most current upside and pure scoring abilities of any superstar out there.
Dwyane Wade is a compilation of all the above qualities.
While Wade doesn't necessarily display these individual attributes in as much quantity or for the longevity that the other three players do, it is his ability to bring out any one of them at the right moment that includes him in the same conversation each and every season."
Unlike LeBron, Wade already has ring. Unlike Kobe, Wade has a fairly flawless reputation as a teammate. Unlike Durant, Wade already has the NBA body and handle to be both a facilitator and finisher.
It's easy to see why any team that misses out on LeBron probably won't shed more than half a tear if they end up with "Flash" instead. If the two wind up together, then, heaven help us all.
In descending order, here are the top three destinations for Wade this summer:
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