The Cleveland Cavaliers at this juncture have to know what they have to some extent when it comes to Dean Wade, who showed he could be a capable rotation piece last season, and has often made winning plays this season.
Now, some of the reasoning for Wade getting significant playing time last season was because of injuries to Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr., and this season, times when Love or Lauri Markkanen have been out, for instance, that’s led to more chances for Wade. The same goes for others on other occasions in games here and there, whether it’s been due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, injuries, etc.
When Wade has been playing meaningful minutes for stretches, he has looked to be a guy that can mesh with key pieces, such as Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, and defensively, against 3s and 4s, he is typically very competent.
Granted, I know that Wade is not the shooting presence of Kevin Love, and even with him largely slumping, Lauri Markkanen is more of a floor spacing presence than Wade at this point. We don’t see it at high volume, but Markkanen is more of a post-up threat than Wade; even still, the finishing from both has been good, and Wade might be a better cutter.
Overall, while I get he’s not ever going to be a high-usage guy, nor will he regularly create for himself when he’s in during stretches, it is evident that Wade is a solid defensive player, and he still can find ways to help Cleveland offensively as a cerebral player. I concur with KJG’s own John Suchan in relation to that sentiment.
And with those things in mind, along with him running the floor very well for a big, it has been somewhat odd that Wade has played so little in Cleveland’s last batch of games.
In that span, he played five minutes in a close loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, and then had two DNPs at the Portland Trail Blazers in a W and Golden State Warriors in a loss. He barely played in a narrow win at the Sacrameno Kings, with that having been for only five minutes, also. It’s been perplexing to me.
The lack of minutes for Wade in this recent batch of Cavs games seems odd.
For now, even amid shooting struggles, I do still think Markkanen should be starting for the Cavs with the Evan Mobley-Jarrett Allen pairing, with how that’s been the norm often for Cleveland when healthy this season.
That said, Wade has proven to be a seamless fit a considerable amount of the time when he’s been regularly involved for Cleveland. And he’s far capable in on-ball defense than Markkanen, so to me, whether’s it at the 3 or 4, the Cavs need to get Wade some more action.
His catch-and-shoot production is down to 32.9 percent from three from last season, when it was 36.6 percent, likely due to a prior foot injury for him earlier, to a degree, and because of the role inconsistencies. He has made 29 appearances and started in 16 games with injuries/absences for others playing into those, and Wade’s minutes have been 19.7 minutes per outing, in which he’s had 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest.
But the lack of PT for Dean of late, even with Cedi Osman back in the fold, has been a bit odd, especially with how Cedi Osman can fill in some at the 2, or Dylan Windler.
The fact of the matter is, even with Markkanen having a decent game at Sacramento, and Wade not being in a favorable matchup defensively in spot minutes at the Kings against Tyrese Haliburton, which likely played into him being a minus-8, he was only in for five minutes in that one. Wade wasn’t able to get in the flow of the game.
But on most occasions, Wade is far more impactful defensively than Markkanen, and more capable than him as a cutter and is arguably just as effective as a rebounder, so some Wade minutes for him seem reasonable. And Wade filling in some at the 4, in some matchups, could be sensible for Kevin Love, or perhaps if the Cavs wanted to go five-out, maybe Love here and there with Wade could be sensible?
However you want to slice it, the lack of PT for the Kansas State product, and former two-way player, in the past handful of games has been odd, in my opinion. Hopefully that changes, and Wade gets some opportunities, particularly with Markkanen largely being off.