Cleveland Cavaliers: Dean Wade is proving to be quality defender

Cleveland Cavaliers big Dean Wade contests a shot. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers big Dean Wade contests a shot. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /

After playing most of his meaningful minutes last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ G League Affiliate, the Canton Charge, Dean Wade has done a nice job for Cleveland as a regular contributor this season.

Wade, who was a two-way player last season and played sparingly with the Cavs, has gotten his share of meaningful run with the Cavaliers this season, and him having a regular roster spot is a positive. Wade was signed to a multi-year, essentially minimum deal last summer, with the years from then onward non-guaranteed, for context.

That has looked to have been a nice move by Cleveland, too, as Wade has often done a good job in his mostly rotational burn for the Cavs this season in mostly minutes at the 4. Granted, injuries have played into him having gotten run.

Kevin Love has missed most of the season because of right calf injury complications, but has been back. And he has helped with his presence as a shooter and secondary playmaker, at least from my perspective, albeit his inexcusable in-bound turnover at the Toronto Raptors was a rough moment, clearly.

Cleveland is reportedly handling that internally, and Love has apologize for it; nonetheless, he needs to be held accountable via potential fine and/or suspension. So we’ll see.

Also regarding the injury front this season involving 4s, Larry Nance Jr., who recently fractured his right thumb, has had a number of injury issues this season as well, which has likely played into Wade getting some more burn, too.

In any case, Wade has again been a meaningful contributor, by and large, when the opportunities have arisen. He’s had a decent 5.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in 17.1 minutes per outing in 52 appearances, and has hit a respectable 35.7 percent of his three-point attempts.

The catch-and-shoot viability from Wade has been good to see, for one, which has led to him looking to be a floor spacing presence and nice outlet for players such as Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and Matthew Dellavedova.

Along with that element, Wade’s cutting feel/timing has led to meaningful interior looks as well. He’s shown impressive touch on the interior, in relation to that, and while it’s not been done at high volume, he has proven to be a decent driving presence here and there to counter hard closeouts.

At the other end of the floor, though, Wade’s defensive efforts shouldn’t be glossed over, either, and that’s been on display in recent games, for example.

Wade is proving to be a quality defender for the Cavs.

Wade has held his own defensively for the Cavaliers against a number of opposing 4s, and although he’s not a particularly big 4 regarding his build at 228 pounds, he has done a nice job closing off gaps for drivers.

He is 6-foot-10, and even while he’s not he strongest guy on the floor, has done good work typically on-ball against opposing forwards with his positioning, and has generally contested perimeter shots off-the-bounce well. And for a dude that played sparingly with the Cavs last season and mostly in the G League, that’s not something that I’m discounting.

He’s held up pretty well, typically, on the defensive end in spurts/some stretches when he’s filled in as a jumbo 3, too, which has been a key positive lately, and that’s a promising sign looking onward.

Along with his efforts in that regard, Wade has done a more than admirable job, quite frankly, against opposing perimeter players and opposing guards/wings as well, when switched out onto them in some isolation/pick-and-roll situations. He rarely gets beat laterally in those instances, contains against drives competently and often does a nice job without fouling of contesting shooters.

Wade, for further context, has placed in the 93rd percentile and 69th percentile in primary defense against pick-and-roll ball handling and isolation scorers on a frequency of 12.9 and 10.8 percent frequencies, respectively, per Synergy Sports.

That’s not necessarily the biggest frequency, of course, but he’s proven to have great feel in those situations, and moving forward, it’s great to know the Kansas State product can hold up when needed at times in that way.

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In regards to the team defensive element, while Wade isn’t going to be nearly the disruptive presence of Nance in passing lanes, he still appears to close passing lanes well and does a more than capable job of stunting to drivers.

Plus, his rotational feel seems to be getting better game-to-game when it comes to helping to contest catch-and-shoot threats, too, which is another positive on the defensive end for him/the team dynamic.

And although he’s not really a notable rim protection presence as a rotator, Wade does do a respectable job of playing vertically inside, which does lead to meaningful shot contests, even if he’s not Jarrett Allen-like.

Lastly, Wade’s 6.4 rebounds per-36 minutes have been decent, and his defensive rebounding positioning has aided Cleveland in his burn, more often than not.

Anyway, while it’s tough to exactly project what kind of role Wade might have with the Cavs next season/perhaps onward, he does seem to help the club on both ends as a rotational forward that can mesh with other guys in a variety of lineups.

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His defensive capabilities have really jumped out to me as of late in his burn, too, and that’s another encouraging sign from the 24-year-old. And the way things look to be shaping up, Wade continues to help his case for sticking around.