Dwyane Wade headlines the positives from Bulls camp so far
It almost sounded like idle talk coming from a 34-year-old NBA player on the back nine of his career.
Dwyane Wade swore that the 13 years on the flip side of his basketball card was an aberration.
“I’m a better three-point shooter than people think,’’ Wade said with a smirk early on in training camp.
Not that being a career .28.4 percent shooter from long range was exactly setting a high bar, but maybe there’s something to his explanation that Miami never needed him to show off that skillset.
While three preseason games is a small sample size, Wade’s three-point shooting is definitely trending in an upward direction.
Starting in last season’s playoffs, Wade hit 52 percent from three in 14 games, and since putting on the uniform of his hometown Bulls was 5-for-7 from long range, including a 3-for-4 showing against Indiana on Saturday night.
“Just freedom of mind to shoot them,’’ Wade said of his evolution. “It’s different. You know, obviously, last year if you look at our roster [in Miami], the way it was made up, I was the playmaker. I was put in a position to be the playmaker and I wasn’t the one shooting threes at all, until the playoffs. Then they took some things away and I was shooting them.
“I’m not saying I’m going to shoot 52 percent like I did in the playoffs, but early in training camp coach [Fred Hoiberg] talked to me about being comfortable shooting the three ball and getting my feet ready and stepping up and shooting the three ball. It’s just the freedom of mind. Some days I’m going to shoot terribly and y’all are going to talk about me, some days it all averages out.’’
What it averaged out to against Indiana was an 8-for-14 shooting night and 22 points in the win.
Wade’s emergence as a three-point threat is just one of the positives to come out of training camp two weeks in, and even better news for Hoiberg is there’s still more than two weeks to fix what hasn’t been working.
1. All business – Veteran Taj Gibson came in knowing that he would have to battle with Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis for a starting spot, and has completely out-played the competition so far. Even better for Gibson is he’s doing it in his free-agent year.
2. Good vibes – Unlike last training camp and into the regular season, this version of the Bulls players seem to actually like each other. Not a must for a team looking to get back to resembling a playoff team, but definitely an upgrade over last year’s traveling circus of dysfunction.
3. McBuckets – Scoring won’t be an issue for third-year player Doug McDermott, but defense has been. The early reviews out of camp was that McDermott’s technique is vastly improved, and his understanding of film study is a big reason why.
1. Valentine’s day – The ankle injury to Denzel Valentine was a setback, especially with Hoiberg looking for a consistent back-up point guard. Valentine could play the last two preseason games, but is missing valuable time for a rookie.
2. The Rondo effect – The offense has looked choppy with Rajon Rondo at the point, but then again the Bulls aren’t exactly used to playing alongside a high IQ point guard. Give it time.
3. Oh Niko – The 18-point showing on Saturday was huge for Mirotic, but doesn’t change the fact that he has a history of inconsistency in what could be his final season with the Bulls. It’s go time.