Is Dwyane Wade becoming underrated?

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NBA General Managers seem to think so.

In the GM survey that was released earlier today, NBA executives were asked who they thought the best shooting guard in the league is. Wade was listed second (behind Kobe Bryant), receiving 23.3% of the vote. This is down from the 40.7% of the vote Wade received last season when he still ranked below Bryant.

What stands out to me here isn’t that Wade ranks below Kobe. They’re two of the best players in the world and there can be a reasonable difference of opinion on who you think is better. People have their preferences and tend to value different things.

What stands out is that with both players one year older — and Wade still in his prime — GM’s seem to think that Wade is losing ground in comparison to Kobe; that Wade’s stock seems to be falling at a rate disproportionate to his game.

Last season wasn’t Wade’s best season as a pro but he was still excellent. His per-36 minute averages were right in line with what he produced the season before even if his per game averages dipped slightly. From an efficiency stand point, he posted a higher PER, assist rate, and a lower turnover rate last year than the season before and did it all while maintaining a usage rate that’s only shade below his career norms.

If his box-score stats suffered, it was more about him pulling back some in order to give LeBron more freedom rather than any real slippage in his game. Wade understood, like everyone else, that the Heat would need LeBron at his best to reach their goals and then adjusted his game to help make it happen. He worked more off the ball, picked his spots, and seemed content to lay-low throughout games for longer stretches and then pounce when his team needed him.

I’m sure playing with LeBron James also hurts the way he’s perceived. Even if Wade isn’t actually doing less, LeBron’s other worldly talent makes it seem like he is. They play such similar styles that one can’t help but think if LeBron is controlling the game from the wing that Wade can’t be. Add in the fact that LeBron is the MVP of the league, Finals MVP, and won an Olympic gold medal over the summer only adds to the divergent opinions towards the Heat’s two best players.

Wade also played the majority of last season dealing with several nagging physical issues. He missed 17 regular season games, including 8 of the Heat’s final 15, with injuries ranging from a dislocated finger to ankle, foot, and knee troubles. Heading into the playoffs and throughout the entire post-season, Wade did not look like his normal self and was only able to conjure up his usual brilliance occasionally.

And maybe that’s really the issue here. The lasting images of Wade coming off of last season are of him not being Dwyane Wade. We have memories of him lacking explosion when going to the rim and settling for more jumpers.We recall his first step not being the same and his finishing ability suffering because of it.

But Dwayne Wade isn’t some broken down has been. He needed surgery on his knee and had it during the off-season. He’s on pace to return on time to start the season fully healthy. When the regular season starts we’re likely to see a different Wade than the one that finished the playoffs gutting through games and getting his knee drained.

There’s a recency bias that exists in sports. Too many times we fall victim to the idea that the most recent best thing is the best thing ever. We end up thinking that the way something just was is the way it will be moving forward. With Dwyane Wade, I think we’re going to see rather quickly that all the GM’s that see him precipitously falling in comparison to his peers got it wrong.

For NBA GM’s, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

James Harden reiterates it was “false talk” he and Chris Paul were at odds

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The Houston Rockets — not in an anonymous way, but in a “we are putting our names on this, quote me” kind of way — have pushed back hard on the narrative that there was tension between Chris Paul and James Harden that led to the Rockets trading CP3 for Russell Westbrook this offseason. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has denied it, team leader P.J. Tucker called it fake news, and Paul himself has pushed back.

Harden has done that again, speaking at his camp on Saturday.

The counter-argument to this: Chris Paul is in Oklahoma City right now.

People will believe what they want to believe, but the Rockets guys have all gone on the record about this. Nothing leaked and anonymous.

From the Rockets’ perspective, they made a trade for Westbrook that is a roster upgrade. Houston has a dynamic duo that can compete with the Los Angeles teams and the other contenders around the league, and whatever questions fans and the media may have about the ultimate fit of Harden and Westbrook the talent level is not in question.

Do the Rockets make that trade if everything is great between Harden and Paul? Probably, if they saw CP3 as in decline and Westbrook as a talent upgrade (which they did). The Rockets can be a cold, business-like organization in terms of their pursuit of a title.

We will see next season if that calculation paid off. Whether or not Harden and CP3 got along.

Report: Kyle Korver reaches one-year deal to join Milwaukee Bucks

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The Bucks can never have enough shooting around a driving Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Enter Kyle Korver. The veteran sharpshooter will be headed to Milwaukee on a one-year contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a quality pickup at the minimum (it is a veteran minimum contract). Korver averaged 8.6 points per game last season, taking 72 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and knocking down 39.7 percent of them. The man has gravity and pulls a defender because even at age 38 defenders cannot leave him. Shooting is a skill always in demand.

The Bucks will start Wesley Matthews at the two and have Sterling Brown behind him. They have Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton at the three. Now they have some reliable veteran depth at those spots and a guy who can hit the big shot for them.

James Harden buys piece of MLS Houston Dynamo

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NBA players being minority owners in a soccer team is not new, LeBron James owns a small piece of Champions’ League winner Liverpool, for example.

James Harden is keeping it closer to home — he bought a share of the Dynamo, Houston’s MLS franchise.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future,” Harden said in a statement. “Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime. I’ve been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose.”

Harden reportedly purchased a five percent stake in the team.

The Dynamo — a former MLS cup champion and a franchise that has consistently been strong — is primarily owned by Gabriel Brener, and it has boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya as one of its minority owners.

Harden has earned more than $141 million in NBA salary in his 10 NBA seasons and has four years left on the $228 million contract extension he signed with the team in 2017. In addition, he has a large shoe contract with Adidas and other endorsements.

Report: R.C. Buford moving on from Spurs GM role, Brian Wright taking over

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For 15 years, through championships and an unparalleled run of playoff berths and success, R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich seemed to work as one brain. Popovich was the coach but also team president, Buford the GM, and together they built an NBA powerhouse.

Buford is moving on from that role. Or, more precisely moving up into a new management role, and assistant GM Brian Wright is taking over as GM, reports Jabari Young of The Athletic.

After a little more than 15 years serving as GM, Buford is getting prepared to bequeath the role to assistant GM Brian Wright, league sources have confirmed to The Athletic. Wright will report directly to Buford, who will officially get a new title that some around the NBA believe will be a role helping to oversee Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

When the Spurs initially hired Wright in 2016, he stayed behind the scenes and focused mainly on scouting. But sources have informed The Athletic over the last year Wright has been more involved, even fielding calls and packages for the trade of Kawhi Leonard the previous summer.

Wright came to the Spurs from the Pistons a couple of years ago. That said, don’t expect a big change in how things are done in the Spurs front office. For one thing, Popovich is still there. Also, Wright has an excellent reputation around the league as being smart and a straight shooter. On top of all of that, Buford will remain his ultimate boss, although Buford’s role will change into one of more of a business manager for Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

Young hints there could be more changes coming. Obviously, the biggest would be when Popovich decides to step back in his dual roles as coach and president, but there could be shifts in the assistant GM ranks as well.

Just don’t expect the Spurs to stop being the Spurs.