Dwyane Wade's Game 7 Performance Shows Star Is Still Elite

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2013

Jun 20, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) reacts during the second quarter of game seven in the 2013 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The debate over whether or not Dwyane Wade is still an elite basketball player is over. His Game 7 performance reminded everyone that the Miami Heat shooting guard is still one of the best in the game.

Hobbled by a nagging knee injury throughout most of the playoffs, questions loomed over whether or not Wade could still play up to the same level that has made him an eight-time All-NBA selection.

The 31-year-old guard has disappeared for stretches and saw his points per game dip from 21.2 points per game to 15.5 points per game in the playoffs.

Wade was especially ineffective throughout the two series with the Chicago Bulls, in which he averaged just 12.6 points per game, and the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers, in which he was held to 15.4 points per game on just 43.6 percent shooting. 

That left the NBA Finals as Wade's last chance to put his mark on this incarnation of the Miami Heat. And he put the exclamation point on that series with a spectacular Game 7. 

Coming off of a 14-point, four-rebound and four-assist performance in Game 6, Wade went right to work in the first half of Game 7. As ESPN Stats & Info points out, Wade teamed up with LeBron to score almost every point for the Heat to close out the half. 

Wade would go on to finish the game with 23 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in the championship-clinching game. A thoroughly impressive double-double for a shooting guard that many considered to be fading throughout most of the playoffs. 

The impressive aspect of Wade's performance in the series is the way his game has transformed. All of the greats are able to find ways to change their game as they age. Wade did just that in Game 7.

We didn't see the high-flying, electric scorer that Wade was in his prime years when he was the 2006 NBA Finals MVP, but a calculating mid-range player that supplied clutch shooting when the Heat needed it most. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was his best mid-range performance of the series. 

How long Wade is able to continue playing at this level is yet to be seen, but with his third career championship, he's established he's still one of the best players in the league.