Dean Wade’s proving to be a factor for Cavs in the transition game

Cleveland Cavaliers bigs Kevin Love (left) and Dean Wade celebrate in-game. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers bigs Kevin Love (left) and Dean Wade celebrate in-game. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /

Dean Wade has gotten his share of run for a considerable stretch for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now, part of that has been injuries, with earlier on that being related to Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr., to some extent. And in this past batch of games, that’s been in regards to Nance again (illness) and Jarrett Allen (concussion), both of whom could reportedly be back on Wednesday at the Charlotte Hornets.

Even with the injury bug having hit Cleveland’s bigs, though, Wade has been establishing himself as a rotational regular. Point being, he’s been capitalizing, at least often, on having had extended burn, and he’s been showcasing stretch big and defensive abilities.

Wade got a start again on Sunday in a close loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, this time at the 3 actually with Collin Sexton (left groin) and Darius Garland (right ankle) out in the second leg of a back-to-back, and Dean delivered. He had a career-high 21 points, six rebounds and tied a career-high with three steals.

Overall on the season, Wade has had 5.5  points and 3.0 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per contest, in what’s been 45 appearances.

And on the year, him having hit, thanks some him going five-of-eight on Sunday from there, 37.2 percent of his 3.0 three-point attempts per outing, has been a plus. That’s even more so considering he was mostly getting meaningful burn as a two-way player with Cleveland’s G League Affiliate, the Canton Charge, last season.

Granted, he had hit only 32.3 percent from deep on 5.2 attempts per outing with extended burn in his past 12 games active before Sunday, but he had had a decent 9.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 28.8 minutes per outing in that span. Some of that has been in recent instances in which he’s been in at the 5 for a good chunk of games with Allen/Nance unavailable, for what it’s worth.

Wade defensively, from my perspective, has done fairly well, too, even while some matchups against bigger 5s have been tough, and he has done a nice job even when switched out on to perimeter players if/when needed. His rotational feel has been a positive, coupled with the on-ball work, also.

With Dean, though, something that’s seemingly flown under the radar to an extent has been how he’s helped Cleveland in the open floor/transition game when chances have arisen.

Wade’s proving to be a factor in transition for the Cavs.

I’m not going to necessarily say Wade is nearly the transition/open floor threat of Collin Sexton, for example, and he’s not nearly the passer of Larry Nance Jr. in that realm. Nance is a player that can run the break at a high level himself after steals/dcefensive rebounds, too, thanks to his much-improved handle, finishing abilities and great decision-making.

That said, Wade, while the volume hasn’t been really high, frankly, still has helped the Cavs’ transition efforts in games, particular of late.

While he’s not the athlete of Nance per se, Wade runs the floor very well in his own right, and has timed up his cuts to either fill lanes going to the basket for guys like Sexton or Darius Garland, or has done a solid job getting to nice spots for perimeter looks.

And for a 4, that sort of thing, especially for a young player, shouldn’t be glossed over, as for a team like Cleveland, it’s paramount that they capitalize on these sort of chances, with their offensive inconsistencies.

With Wade’s catch-and-shoot capabilities, similarly to Kevin Love, for example, it’s led to him filling in in secondary transition as a trailer, too, coupled with more of the aforementioned fastbreak/traditional transition looks.

It’s been encouraging to see him be comfortable letting trailing three-point looks, in particular, go, too, as when those have gone down, it’s also aided him as an occasional driving presence with hard closeouts coming. I’d expect that to only help him more looking onward in his burn for Cleveland, additionally.

That sort of development from him, and the timely cutting/trailing shooting has played into Wade placing in the 78th percentile in transition scoring this season to this point, per Synergy Sports. The volume hasn’t been high, in being 45 possessions, but the energy boost from that/efficiency in those situations has jumped out to me.

Lastly, regarding the transition element, while he’s not going to nearly wreak as much havoc as Nance in the passing lanes, for instance, Wade has shown with more experience that he has good feel for deflecting passes and getting occasional steals.

And after getting those, we’ve seen Dean either make heady lead passes from there, or at times, give it up and then promptly get layups/dunks after getting it back following his deflections/steals. His urgency in those situations to push when sensing those chances are there has paid off as of late, for further context.

Moreover, the more Wade has been given regular rotational burn, the more comfortable he’s seemingly looked for the Wine and Gold on both ends, by and large.

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And that’s been a pleasure to see, frankly.