Cleveland Cavaliers: Who was best bench player in 2020-21?

Cleveland Cavaliers bigs Dean Wade (#32) and Larry Nance Jr. (#22) celebrate in-game. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers bigs Dean Wade (#32) and Larry Nance Jr. (#22) celebrate in-game. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Dean Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers big Dean Wade shoots the ball. (Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports) /

Why I had Wade as the Cavs’ best bench player last season

Wade was a player that I had my reservations about coming into the past season. He didn’t play much with the Cavaliers in 2019-20, and was on a two-way deal then, so that wasn’t surprising.

He was previously an undrafted signing by Cleveland following the 2019 draft, to add to that. So needless to say, I was skeptical that he could be a viable player in legitimate playing time during this now-past season.

Wade did prove to be a more than competent player off the bench though. And while injuries to Love and Nance, at least earlier on, played into more PT for him, he did prove to be a quality rotational big that can definitely knock down his share of catch-and-shoot looks.

Wade, who was signed to a similar deal as the aforementioned Stevens last summer, hit a respectable 36.6 percent of his 3.4 three-point attempts per game in 2020-21, in which he played in totality, 19.2 minutes per outing.

There were plenty of instances when he played more than that minutes-share average, however, and even with some off nights in the batch of games, he did hit 37.5 percent from deep in his final 12 games active. He played 29.7 minutes per contest in that stretch, and started in six of those games, of which he had 9.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per outing.

With Wade’s emergence as a shooter, and with him looking to be a real pick-and-pop threat, I’d expect him to keep getting his share of minutes next season, too. The finishing/touch inside/in the paint with some push shots off of cuts was a key positive as well, and maybe we could see Wade at times get some mid-post looks looking onward.

Along with the offensive end, I thought Wade was solid on the defensive end of the floor in his PT.

He’s not the greatest post defender, but his ability to contain drivers, more than hold his own in pick-and-roll switchouts and his rotational feel off-ball led to him much more often than not being in the right position to contest shooters.

Plus, Wade’s defensive rebounding positioning and recognition led to him averaging a decent 6.4 boards per-36 minutes.

Moreover, with how Wade did mostly off the bench for Cleveland, his shooting/off-ball capabilities and defensive feel led to him often giving energy/juice to the Cavs in his PT. And he hopefully should be due to stick around for that.

To be clear, Wade’s 6.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per outing on the season in 63 appearances didn’t light up the basic box score, but I thought when he was getting considerable PT, he made an impact out there and meshed well with other guys.

If the Cavaliers can add more playmaking/on-ball creation help this offseason, that’d likely only help free up Wade more as a catch-and-shoot/cutting threat, too, and would further maximize his movement.

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We’ll have to see if that plays out this offseason, and I’d imagine it should. But in this case, I thought with his effectiveness on both ends for the vast majority of the season, that Wade was Cleveland’s best bench player overall in 2020-21.