Cleveland Cavaliers: Dean Wade could start in more games in 2021-22

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) /

Last season, I was more than pleased with the play of Dean Wade, who was previously on a two-way deal in the 2019-20 campaign. Wade, who was signed to that by the Cleveland Cavaliers following the 2019 NBA Draft after going undrafted out of Kansas State then, did a nice job last season.

Wade was signed last offseason via multi-year deal, albeit with the years from there non-guaranteed; he was a meaningful contributor, though.

Now, Wade’s traditional averages of 6.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game didn’t knock anybody’s socks off, no. But even while injuries to Kevin Love for much of the season, to go with Larry Nance Jr. played into it, Wade made use of his opportunities.

Wade proved to be a viable catch-and-shoot threat, hitting 36.6 percent of his 3.4 three-point attempts per outing, showed some viability in off-movement scenarios, flashed pick-and-pop qualities and was a good cutter/finisher.

On the defensive end, he was an effective on-ball player in deterring drivers and contesting shooters, and though the low post defense isn’t his strength, Wade’s team defensive feel on the interior was something that jumped out, too. He was, for the most part, positioning sound in a general sense on defense, which was not something that should be glossed over.

And as the season wore on, again even if injuries did factor some into it, the Kansas State product got his share of meaningful playing time. He did make his presence felt in most of those instances too, and in his last 21 games active, had 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 26.1 minutes per appearance, which included 10 starts.

Considering how he typically is competent defensively, and aids in spacing the floor for Cleveland and moves well off-ball, I could also foresee Wade having more starts next season for the Cavs.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Wade could start in more games in 2021-22.

Based on how Wade performed last season, and factoring in potential injuries, even with me hoping that’s not the case, Wade could seemingly be starting in more contests next season.

As a starter last season in more so a lower usage/predominantly off-ball role, he had 10.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per outing, and shot 40.0 percent from three-point land on 5.3 attempts per game.

To me, his catch-and-shoot/cutting capabilities and defensive feel make him a viable starting option at the 4, or even as an occasion jumbo starting 3, if there are potential injury absences to Darius Garland, Collin Sexton or Isaac Okoro. Or the same could go for a possible draft selection that could start on the perimeter, I’d think here and there.

Granted, in relation to the 4 position, Kevin Love would probably be Cleveland’s starting 4 normally, but he’s had so many injuries in recent seasons, and while I wouldn’t likely expect it, perhaps Cleveland and Love could maybe come to a buyout agreement at some point.

More from King James Gospel

KJG’s own Anthony Farris wants that to happen sooner rather than later, for what it’s worth. But either way, there’s seemingly always injury concerns with Love, who played in just 25 games in 2020-21, mostly because of a right calf injury.

And Larry Nance Jr., who appeared in only 35 games due to a few unfortunate injuries/an extremely rough bout with illness, has had issues in the past with some ailments. He’d likely be Cleveland’s answer as a starter at the 4 in instances when Love were to be sidelined if needed, and I’d understand that.

That said, I could definitely get if the Cavaliers in that scenario ended up going with Wade as a starting 4 next to Jarrett Allen with Nance as more so a catalyst off the bench on both ends as Wade’s backup. That’s with others maybe factored into the mix, too.

Regardless, if Wade, assuming he sticks around through next season/maybe onward keeps making progress and proving himself as a key catch-and-shoot presence when he’s in there, and defends well, Cleveland might just want to start him more anyway.

With potential injuries also, though, and a full 82-game season next year again, and with Wade fitting alongside a number of players, he could seemingly start more games in 2021-22, from my perspective.

Although, he did miss most of K State’s tourney run to the Elite Eight in his junior year due to a stress fracture in his left foot, and his senior season at K State was trimmed some to 25 games due to a right foot injury. But for the most part, he’s been durable and has not had injuries with the Cavs.

And after not playing much with the Cavaliers at the NBA level (not with their G League affiliate, the Canton Charge) in 2019-20, he impressed me in 2020-21.

Cavs: 2 goals for Jarrett Allen in 2021-22. dark. Next

So for the reasons stated and him seemingly gaining confidence as his Year 2 progressed with Cleveland, I could foresee more Wade starts next season.