Cleveland Cavaliers: We should be bullish on Dean Wade

Cleveland Cavaliers big Dean Wade shoots the ball. (Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers big Dean Wade shoots the ball. (Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports) /

The ending stretch of this campaign hasn’t been noteworthy for the Cleveland Cavaliers, not even a little bit. The Cavaliers have been ravaged by injuries, sure, but so many NBA teams have had a litony of injuries, all throughout this season.

Cleveland had lost a season-high 11 straight games up until their win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, in what was Anderson Varejao’s last home game ultimately with the Cavs/his end-of-career stint with them.

The injuries again haven’t aided them, albeit it has led to positive signs from Isaac Okoro, in the scoring and even playmaking realm, and Collin Sexton has continued to make his presence felt.

Another Cavalier that has jumped out, though, and this has been the case more and more post-All-Star, has been Dean Wade.

As mostly a G-League guy with Cleveland’s affiliate, the Canton Charge, last season, when he was on a two-way contract after going undrafted out of Kansas State in 2019, Wade has had his share of meaningful playing time in 2020-21.

Injuries to Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. have played into that, but Wade has still gotten in there anyway. And with next season/perhaps beyond in mind, the Cavs/the fans should be optimistic about him.

We should be bullish on Wade’s outlook for the Cavs.

Wade, who was signed via multi-year deal last summer, with the years from there non-guaranteed, has shown quality stretch big abilities.

He’s built on having knocked down 39.9 percent of his three-point attempts with the Charge last season, and with Cleveland this season, he’s shot a respectable 36.4 from three on 3.2 attempts per outing. That’s been in 18.7 minutes per contest in 61 appearances, for context, and there’s been more playing time post-All-Star for him, by and large.

In that realm, his last 24 games active, Wade has hit 35.1 percent of his 4.6 deep attempts per game, in what’s been 27.0 minutes per outing.

It’s been encouraging to see Wade establish himself as a viable catch-and-shoot threat, and coming into the season, while there were glimpses, I was hesitant about that potential in playing with the Cavs for Wade.

We’ve seen that a good bit in recent contests, such as in a loss, albeit in a nice effort by a thin Cavaliers roster, when he went three-of-eight from three, and had his first double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds versus the Indiana Pacers on Monday.

As Cavs fans have seemingly been touching on with Wade too, though, his defense has typically been solid.

Although he had only one point in 28 minutes, and did foul out, he did a role in defense of Jayson Tatum, and make him work. That one was a W against the shorthanded Boston Celtics on Wednesday, and while we can back and forth on the lottery odds thing, the Cavaliers were tied for the best odds for the #1 pick in the past two drafts, and ended up with #5. So we’ll have to see.

Circling back, on-ball, Wade rarely gets beat by drivers, which has led to him appearing to be viable even as a jumbo 3 at times, and does contest shooters well, typically.

Along with that sort of thing, defensively, he’s mostly been in the right spots as a rotator, in the team sense, and his defensive rebounding rate of 14.9 percent has been decent. In that way, the defensive rebounding positioning has been a key positive often for him in his playing time this season.

Going the other way from there, Wade has been a quality trailer, which has led to some secondary transition threes for him via spot-ups after deliveries from Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro and/or others.

Plus, also in relation to team defense/transition offense Wade has gotten his hands in passing lanes more of late, too, and his feel on that end has continued to lead to him being in the right position.

So, when projecting the outlook for Wade, assuming he’s around next season and maybe more from there, it’s clear that we should be bullish on him.

Now, we’ll have to see about whether or not Kevin Love, for example is around next season/with a potential buyout/waive-and-stretch perhaps being something that could play out it seems, but either way, I’d expect Wade to get his share of minutes.

We could still see him in some spurts with Larry Nance Jr., too, for example, and I’d imagine will.

Next. Should Isaac Okoro make one of the All-Rookie teams?. dark

Moreover, with Wade, it’s apparent that he’s been a nice developmental player for the Cavaliers, and I’d hope he sticks around. He looks to be a solid rotational 6-foot-10 big that can space the floor, be a pick-and-pop threat, provide energy and is a competent defender.