It was not a move that was going to be getting a boatload of reaction to it, but I’m sure plenty of Cleveland Cavaliers fans were relieved when the team and Dean Wade reportedly agreed to terms on a contract extension over the offseason. Wade was extended for three-years, and $18.5 million, with $16.5 million guaranteed.
Wade demonstrated that he can mesh well with other Cavaliers in the last two seasons with some real rotational opportunities, and his defensive play has typically been strong for the Wine and Gold. His off-ball play on offense was something that stood out as well, and heading into this season, I wanted to see him get some chances to build on his play from last year.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, he looks to be set for regular rotational looks, too, which is reassuring for what’s to come for him, in my opinion. For a previously undrafted, two-way signing following the 2019 NBA Draft, Wade has exceeded expectations with Cleveland.
It’s been four games as far as this season thus far, sure, but Wade has gotten his share of meaningful playing time, and early on, has had 9.3 points per contest, to go with 2.8 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game. He had only four minutes of play in Cleveland’s blowout win at the Chicago Bulls in the second game of the year for the Cavs, however, he’s had 22, 21 and 30 minutes of playing time in the other three outings, two of which were wins.
In the Cavaliers’ last two games, in home wins against the Washington Wizards and then Orlando Magic, Wade had 12 points in each of those, and knocked in six three-pointers across those two games. And to me, it looks as if Wade is really beginning to take off for the Wine and Gold.
Wade is starting to heat up for the Cavaliers.
As we’ve alluded to, with Wade’s ability to defend, and often force opposing forwards into tough looks, he should receive minutes in meaningful stretches of contests for Cleveland. He’s a player that we could see in high-leverage minutes, and has in the last two outings been in some key stretches of games, such as in the fourth quarter of course, and against Washington, played in overtime.
Along with the defensive capabilities from him, Wade’s been heating up as a catch-and-shoot player for the Cavaliers.
He was a bit out of sorts it appeared at times in Cleveland’s opening loss to Toronto, but was also in his first regular season game in coming off missing time in some of preseason due to a prior ankle sprain. Wade was a minus-11 in that game, but did some have encouraging moments, and did have eight points, three rebounds and two assists.
Since, however, he’s looked to be moving better when the opportunities have been there, and Cleveland having him start at the 3 versus Orlando, with Caris LeVert playing at the 2 with Garland still out was a solid move. Isaac Okoro, as an aside, has not been able to hit water if he fell out of a boat to start the season, and that’s been tough to see, especially after some encouraging signs in preseason.
Wade, conversely, seems to be finding his footing, and could be starting to feel it as a shooter. It’s been a sample size of three-plus games (he was in only four minutes at Chicago in that blowout), but he’s started off shooting eight-of-14 from three (57.1 percent). As we touched on, in the past two games, he’s taken off there, and his four triples versus Orlando surely gave the squad a lift.
Of course, I acknowledge stats early on have to be taken with a grain of salt for primarily catch-and-shoot guys.
Even with that caveat, when Wade has been able to have consistent playing time in the two seasons prior, it’s paid dividends for him establishing a rhythm more game-to-game, and he’s proven to be an impactful cutter and transition player as well. He runs the floor with purpose, is very athletic as an above-the-rim guy, and can make his share of energy plays in his own right, too.
Moreover, while it’s been a small sample to begin the season, he could definitely be starting to hit his stride. His two-way impact the past two games leading to a plus-19 and plus-nine plus-minus was impressive, also, and he’s proven to usually be in opportune spots on both ends to make plays.
Generally, with Wade’s 6-foot-9 size, him being able to play multiple positions in the 3 and 4 and with him helping the Cavaliers’ spacing, he’s a player that should regularly be playing a legit chunk of minutes.