Cavs: Solid run this year for Dean Wade has been crucial for his growth

Cleveland Cavaliers big Dean Wade goes up for a shot, and is fouled by Toronto Raptors big Khem Birch. (Photo by Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers big Dean Wade goes up for a shot, and is fouled by Toronto Raptors big Khem Birch. (Photo by Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports) /

With how he’s played for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, I’ve become a fan of Dean Wade.

Last season, when he was on a two-way deal, we didn’t see Wade, who was an undrafted free agent pickup following the 2019 draft, in there much for the Cavaliers. Rather the vast majority of his burn was with the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s G League Affiliate club, and there, he had 14.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 blocks per outing.

He displayed stretch big qualities in his burn there as well, most notably from my perspective, and hit 39.9 percent of his three-point attempts.

We didn’t see that sort of thing play out for Wade in burn with Cleveland really last season because of the lack of run, but when he was in there for meaningful run on occasion, he did appear somewhat timid as a catch-and-shoot player. Albeit that was fairly understandable.

Wade’s defensive abilities and finishing touch/off-ball feel did stand out to me then, on the plus side, though.

This season, meanwhile, Wade has gotten far more burn, and regardless of if injuries to 4s such as Kevin Love for most of the season/pre-All-Star, and Larry Nance Jr. a number of times and recently, have played into that, Wade’s done a nice job.

This past offseason, Cleveland signed Wade to a multi-year deal, but with the years beginning this current season non-guaranteed. And that’s proven to have been a nice move.

In his rotational run, of which there’s been occasional burn for him at the 5 here and there and a bit as a jumbo 3, Wade has been a viable catch-and-shoot threat and has held up pretty well on defense. In 2020-21, he’s had 5.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per outing, and has had 13 starts in 57 appearances so far.

The confidence has only seemingly grown for him as the year has progressed, too.

Solid run for Wade this season for the Cavs has been crucial for his growth.

Whether it’s been originally by design or not, Wade has proven himself to be a heady rotational piece for Cleveland, and he’s gotten burn with a variety of players.

As was mentioned, he’s appeared to be a viable floor spacing presence largely in his time out there, and although he’s cooled off more in this last batch of games, he’s shown promise as a catch-and-shoot player. Albeit Wade did have 16 points in Cleveland’s game on Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers, and hit three-of-four from three-point range, and while the Cavs were blown out on Wednesday, his performance was a silver lining.

Him being a nice catch-and-shoot player is nice to know in relation to the 24-year-old forward/big looking onward, too, if the Cavs were to eventually move on from Kevin Love, perhaps via buyout down the road, or possibly if they were to waive and stretch him. Maybe Love does end up sticking around, but we’ll see down the road; what he’s owed the next two seasons doesn’t make a potential move the simplest ordeal.

Anyway, circling back to Wade, although the injuries this season haven’t been what one would’ve wanted for Love and/or Nance to some extent, it’s been a positive that Wade has gotten a solid amount of run. In his past 17 games active, of which included six starts, he’s had 7.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in 24.8 minutes per outing and hit 37.3 percent of his threes.

In the past six games before Wednesday’s, he did shoot even only 33.3 percent just once from three-point range, though. That said, Wade hitting six-of-10 from deep even in a loss against the Miami Heat on May 1 was encouraging. And we’ve seen plenty of other hot shooting nights from him throughout the season when he’s been in there for notable run.

That’s included some pick-and-pop viability in sequences with Darius Garland and Matthew Dellavedova a bit, too.

Additionally, Wade has shown some solid touch inside as a cutter and at times as a driver following hard closeouts, and he’s demonstrated feel with push shots as well, which has been a plus.

More from King James Gospel

Along with that, his 6.3 rebounds per-36 minutes for a rotational contributor have been more than fine, and his positioning/boxouts have been on-point mostly.

And on the defensive end, Wade has appeared to be a more than capable rotator, and although he’s had some tough matchups at times against physical 5s, he’s been typically pretty competent against 4s.

His work in switchout situations has been respectable, too. That sort of thing has made it seem as if the Cavs could have him in varying lineups for coming years, also, if he were to stick around.

His deals next year and the year following, for instance, are again non-guaranteed, though. So we’ll have to see there.

But objectively, Wade having had solid run this year has been crucial for his growth, and even in his share of minutes down the stretch as the season has progressed.

Next. Cleveland Cavaliers: 15 best forwards in franchise history. dark

Moreover, the way things have been shaking out, it would seem feasible that the Kansas State product could be around in coming years as an energy/competent two-way rotational presence.