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Dwyane Wade's improved 3-point shooting didn’t come out of nowhere

Once reluctant to fire away from deep, Dwyane Wade has slowly been adding that shot to his game.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Dwyane Wade deciding to join the Bulls was one of the biggest surprises of the offseason, and not just because we all assumed he was going to retire with the Heat.

Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler, two ball-dominant perimeter players with questionable outside shots, were already in tow, making Wade an awkward fit. There was serious skepticism about how viable "The Three Alphas" were going to be on offense.

Little did anyone know that Wade was turning into a marksman. The Bulls' shooting guard went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in Chicago's win against the Celtics on Thursday, showing off an evolution as an outside threat that has long been in progress.

Getting past the mental block

Wade is a career 28 percent shooter from beyond the arc on under two attempts a game. He's always preferred the mid-range and was typically reluctant to pull the trigger form outside. Last regular season, he made only seven of his 44 three-point attempts for a paltry 16 percent. That player would have been a terrible fit in Chicago.

In the 2015-16 postseason, however, something clicked for Wade. In series against the Hornets and the Raptors he went 12-of-23 for 52 percent, a ridiculous high efficiency on a good volume.

Wade 2015/16 playoffs

“I’m shooting in-rhythm shots," Wade told The Palm Beach Post. "In the regular season, I didn’t even look to shoot them. See, everybody goes off of the numbers, but … the threes I shot during the regular season were at the last second I’d get it and have to throw it up.

“But now I’m just shooting rhythm shots and rhythm threes, and you get a couple to fall and your confidence goes up. If I get them, I’ll shoot them again.”

That was a huge step for Wade, who was always reluctant to shoot three-pointers, even when left wide open. He always relied on his deadly mid-range jumper instead, which he was able to get off at any time. He’s a career 39-percent shooter on two-pointers longer than 16 feet.

"A lot of people have talked about me not shooting threes but no one has been able to take away what I wanted to do," Wade told the Chicago Tribune. "So why would I do something else? When you take it away, I have the ability to knock it down."

Still, the streak seemed a little fortuitous. Whether Wade was willing to work on his outside shooting and make it a part of his repertoire was unclear. Yet he seemed to understand the value of adding that weapon to his arsenal to increase his longevity.

“I will be, if I want to keep playing, stick around" Wade answered The Palm Beach Post's Jason Lieser when asked about looking to add the shot permanently back in May. "I work on it. Everything I do in the game, I work on. I work on catch-and-shoot threes. At some point, maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. I’ll work on it, and whenever I need to go to it, hopefully it goes in."

Adding the three full time

Then came the decision to join the Bulls. During training camp, coach Fred Hoiberg encouraged Wade to take three-pointers, which made sense considering the makeup of the starting unit. Wade was agreeable to the idea.

"I'm not Doug McDermott. I'm not Niko (Mirotic)," Wade told the Chicago Tribune. "But I'm comfortable with the shot and I'm going to shoot it. I know it's going to be there, so I have a better chance of knocking it down."

He actually went through with it. In six preseason games, Wade attempted 16 three-pointers — almost three a game — and connected on seven of them, for a 44 percent accuracy.

Wade 2016/17 preseason

That was preseason, though. Players always try things out in those games that they might not do when it counts.

In the Bulls' season debut on Thursday, however, Wade left no doubts about having added the shot. He took six three-pointers, the most he had attempted in a single game since 2013. He connected on four of those, including a dagger to put the Celtics away.

We are just one game into the season. Opponents will have to see Wade hit those shots consistently before changing the scouting report on him.

But Wade’s evolution as an outside shooter seems to be real. He first got past his mental block with the shot, then decided to work on making it a permanent part of his game.

If Wade is in fact a three-point shooter now, he could add years to his career and help the Bulls exceed expectations this season. At age 34, Dwyane Wade is showing that it's never too late for an old dog to learn new tricks.