NBA Playoffs
The Pulse of the NBA

By Andy Roth
Contributing Editor

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    New York, NY (Sports Network) - LeBron James is probably the leading MVP candidate and by many considered the best player in the NBA, and up until "Linsanity" broke loose, probably the most talked about player in the league.

    With James getting so much attention, people tend to forget about the greatness of his teammate Dwyane Wade.

    The eight-time All-Star guard missed nine games in January with a sprained right ankle, but has come back with a vengeance and put up the kind of numbers in February that could earn him the player of the month award.

    The Heat are 11-2 this month, which includes their current eight-game winning streak, and Wade has been at the top of his game. He's averaging 24.5 points in just 30.8 minutes per game, along with 4.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists, while shooting a phenomenal 56 percent from the floor. He had a run of 10 straight games in which he shot at least 50 percent and is shooting 57 percent during Miami's eight-game winning streak.

    Wade's scoring numbers aren't as gaudy as they were prior to teaming up with LeBron and Chris Bosh, but he's still the same player. A lot of people may have forgotten that it was just two years prior to the "Big Three" coming together that Wade led the NBA in scoring, averaging 30.2 points.

    What makes that season even more impressive are the numbers he put up in some other statistical categories. Wade's 7.5 assists per game was tops among shooting guards and ranked eighth overall that season. He was also the third- best rebounding guard, pulling down five boards per game.

    Wade has proven - which some of the other stars in the league have yet to - that a team can win a championship with him as the No. 1 player. The likes of LeBron, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard cannot make that claim.

    I think you can make the argument that Wade is the NBA's second-best player behind LeBron. Aside from James, I don't think any of the aforementioned players have the all-around skill level that Wade does. He's a great offensive and defensive player (two-time second team All NBA All-Defensive Team), an excellent rebounder and he makes other players better.

    If you're wondering where Kobe Bryant fits into this argument, I think you have to give the nod to Wade with Bryant not being as athletic nor explosive off the dribble as he used to be and not quite as good defensively.


  • While on the subject of Kobe, the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar and I have the same take on Jeremy Lin's journey through the NBA, and he has some very unkind words for the decision-makers around the league. Bryant can't believe how all 30 general managers failed to recognize Lin's talent.

    "The biggest thing to me is how everybody missed that," Bryant told reporters during All-Star weekend. "They would all be fired if I was owning a team. I hear this stuff about how he came out of nowhere and I think it's a load of crap. You can't play that well and just come out of nowhere. There has to be something there and everybody missed it. So, heads would roll."

    As a matter of fact, Lin gave former top overall pick John Wall all he could handle when the two squared off in the Las Vegas Summer League in 2010, with Lin playing for the Dallas Mavericks' team.

    Despite all the "Linsanity," Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl doesn't like the New York Knicks' chances to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs.

    "The thing I don't like about the situation is all this stuff is happening with very little practice time," Karl said during an interview with ESPN Radio. "I don't think they're going to get out of the bottom half of the draw, so I think they're going to draw one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference (in the playoffs). I'll be honest with you, I think it's going to be very difficult for them this year to put the pieces together to figure out how to beat one of those top three or four teams."

    Knicks fans better hope they aren't one of the bottom two seeds in the East, which almost surely means a first-round meeting with the Heat or Chicago Bulls, and most likely an end to their season.

  • All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge believes he still wouldn't be in Portland if not for the injuries to Brandon Roy and Greg Oden.

    "I probably would have ended up signing somewhere else," Aldridge said. "Think about it, I was the last option out of those guys, so they both would have gotten max deals and they wouldn't have given me my deal (five years, $62.5 million). They only signed me because I was the only low post threat left on the team. If they had Greg, they don't give me the number I wanted, and I'm somewhere else. I think about it all the time. I wouldn't even be here had Greg not gotten hurt."

    Aldridge thinks if Roy and Oden had stayed healthy and the trio had a chance to play together, big things would have happened.

    "Me, Brandon and Greg," Aldridge said. "At the dinner table, I just remember seeing a vision of us three together, and it was something special. I felt like we were so young, we had so much time to build chemistry, so much time to grow and get better. I just saw all three of us having multiple rings. At least one ring. But it never came together. It never panned out."

    Andy Roth covered the Knicks for NBC Radio and AP Radio for eleven years and was an NBA Columnist for Celtics Pride Magazine for two years. He's covered many of the major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, U.S. Open Tennis and Golf.

    Copyright 2012

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