Health is paramount; especially if you're a would-be dynasty like the Miami Heat.
Whether it's a superstar with a history of injury woes or a much-beleaguered big man, Miami has its fair share of guys with a checkered past in the injury department. Ensuring they're healthy come season tipoff is vital for early-season momentum.
Without question, D-Wade is going to be the biggest question mark coming into this season. He was constantly hobbled throughout last year. Whether it was a strained grimace or an awkward limp to the huddle, it was apparent his troubled knee was giving him fits.
As brilliant as Wade is with the ball in his hands, his durability going forward could certainly bring doubt in the minds of concerned Heat fans. Yes, LeBron James and the rest of the gang are awesome, but Wade is crucial to the team's immediate and long-term future.
Wade has been working with Tim Grover during the offseason (courtesy NBCSports.com), famed trainer of Michael Jordan and many other pro ballers.
In past seasons, Wade's work with Grover has done wonders. He came off an atrocious (more so for the team than him individually) 2007-08 season to return revitalized and have arguably the greatest campaign of his career. His explosiveness was off the charts, his jumper was lights out and all of it was likely due to a solid structural foundation.
Aside from rehabbing his joints with Grover, Wade has also undergone shock treatment and other rehab treatments (courtesy of the Sun Sentinel) that are standard protocol with these type of things.
Wade told the Sun Sentinel, "I'm feeling a lot, lot better," but as of yet, he's still not at a "great" level of strength or health.
Wade still has time, and being the gamer that he is, you could bet that even if he was slightly hobbled, he would be ready to go out there and do battle.
Despite the concerns, count on Wade to be in the starting lineup at the start of the 2013-14 season.
Another huge concern is Greg Oden's glass knee(s).
The acquisition of Oden is a huge low-risk signing; in fact, there might not be any risk at all aside from the time and energy invested in bringing him aboard. Other than that, though, Miami doesn't have much to lose if his knee blows up unexpectedly.
Back in May, a forward from the Ohio State University, Deshaun Thomas, noted that Oden looked "unbelievable" during his rehab process (via nba.si.com).
Unfortunately, no matter how great he looks, it doesn't mean anything—a freak injury for him could occur at any time without prior warning.
That being said, there's no way to fully assess Oden's situation at any time. Given his terrible history injury-wise, it would be foolish to declare him good to go just because he ran some suicides rather quickly or leg pressed a couple hundred pounds.
Dwyane Wade has remarked that the Miami Heat's medical staff will do what they can to help Oden out with his health issues, but in all honesty, Wade's or anybody else's words mean nothing in this regard.
Unless we see Oden play until the end of the calendar year, the jury is still out on whether or not he can be depended upon to stay healthy long term.
Assuming he survives training camp and endures full-contact practices without any issues, it's very possible Oden could start at the 5-spot and give Miami more of a traditional set.
As of now, his status should be probable, but don't act surprised if another freak accident happens. Sadly, this might be Oden's last chance at a pro career, and hopefully for his sake, everything works out without a hitch.