Zaire Wade Not Setting Goals To Prove Doubters Wrong
SALT LAKE CITY – When the Salt Lake City Stars, the developmental league affiliate of the Utah Jazz selected Zaire Wade with the 10th pick of the 2021 G League Draft, there were cries of nepotism within the basketball community.
After all, Zaire is the son of the Jazz part-owner Dwyane Wade, and is signing a G League contract despite a less than traditional path to professional basketball.
Some players opt to skip college and play one season in the G League before entering the NBA Draft one year later. Zaire Wade, however, doesn’t have the same recruiting profile shared by those top prospects, and at this point, he’s not high on the radar among the best prospects for the 2022 NBA Draft.
But despite the questions about his path to the G League, the newest member of the Stars roster said he’s not beginning his professional career with the goal of changing anybody’s mind.
“I think my biggest thing is not necessarily to prove everybody else wrong, but just proving myself right,” Wade admitted. “I know how hard I’ve worked over the past years, especially this summer to be blessed to have this opportunity from the Stars.”
Considered a solid Division I prospect, Wade had scholarship offers to Rhode Island, Nebraska, Depaul, South Carolina, and Toledo before entering the G League Draft.
High school graduates can declare for the G League Draft but are unable to be called up for service with an NBA team until they are a full year removed from high school.
Rather than hoping to improve his game through the college ranks, Wade opted to throw his name into the G League Draft where he was selected by the Stars last month.
Now, the 6-foot-3 170-pound guard will develop under the tutelage of coach Nathan Peavy and the Stars management staff.
“I told coach, ‘I’m here to work hard and get better and learn every day,'” Wade said.
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While the amateur route offers players a softer landing spot to develop, the G League is made up of seasoned college players and first and second-year NBA veterans that are still developing their games.
In the eyes of Peavy, that can be beneficial for a young player like Wade.
“It’s going to be a quick learning experience where you’re going to be forced to really grow and to really immerse yourself into the culture of pro basketball and know what it is,” Peavy said. “It helps young players like Zaire.”
Wade and the Stars will open their season on November 5 against the Oklahoma City Blue as part of the G League Showcase. The tournament-style schedule will run from the season opener through the end of December where the winner will be decided at the Winter Showcase.
After the Winter Showcase, the regular season will begin on December 27 and run through April.
Unlike his father who was one of the premier scorers in the NBA during his time with the Miami Heat, the Stars will look to Zaire for his hustle plays and defense early in his career as they bring this offensive game along.
“He’s very active, he plays with a high motor, and he takes no plays off,” Peavy said of the 19-year-old. “For him, that’s going to be very big, especially coming into the pro level.”
As for Wade, he said he’s more focused on the Stars’ success early in his career rather than individual accolades.
“I’m not really focused on stats too much more than just producing,” Wade said. “Just being out there and making sure that I’m helping the team win.”
The Stars and Blue open the season at Paycom Center in Oklahoma City on Friday at 6 pm MT.
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