As a three-time NBA champion, Dwyane Wade has proved his basketball IQ again and again, but Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey recalled a time when he put a young Wade to the test – literally.
Back in his days as an assistant for the Seattle SuperSonics, Casey was part of the group of coaches assessing Wade, and numerous other promising college players, prior to the 2003 NBA draft.
By the time Seattle was on the clock to make its picks that year, Wade was off the board – drafted fifth by the Miami Heat – but the star shooting guard’s all-around intelligence left its mark on Casey during that workout.
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PASSING THE TEST
“I remember bringing Dwyane Wade into Seattle,” explained the Raptors head coach. “He was very quiet, observant, mature and a student of the game, coming out of Marquette. At the time, we were all talking about how mature this young man was.
“I gave him a basketball quiz when he came into Seattle and we were really impressed with his knowledge of the game. As part of the process where we bring all these guys in, we asked things about defensive coverages, things like that. He was impressive with his terminology and his ability to really articulate what was going on. He was really mature beyond his years.”
Wade, who took charge for Miami in overtime of game one in the Eastern Conference semi-finals against Toronto and finished with 24 points, recalled that Seattle workout with a smile before rattling off all the details from memory.
“Yeah, I remember it,” he said. “Coach Casey was there and at the time there was talk of him leaving to be a head coach. Nate McMillan was the head coach in Seattle at the time.
“They had two draft picks – number 12 and number 14 – and I wasn’t projected to go in the top five so I wanted to go there and have a good workout.”
Thirteen years on, Wade comes face-to-face with Casey again in this second round series – and his ability to articulate what he sees on the court is undiminished. Casey himself, when looking ahead to the Miami series, pointed out that Wade “was back to being a young Dwyane Wade”.
Looking ahead to game two, Wade believes that the Heat can step their performance up another level.
“We know we can play a better game,” he said. “We had so many opportunities near the basket [in game one] and we had a lot of turnovers early. We’ll take the win but we did a lot of things wrong that we need to correct ahead of the next game.”