Dwyane Wade’s past impact on the Cavaliers
Looking at Wade’s half-season with the Cavs, he scored a career-low 11.2 points per game and only started in three performances for the 2017-18 squad. Wade played the smallest role he ever had in his career, and his nagging knee injuries had finally soured his outstanding former athleticism.
To imagine Wade on any roster other than the Heat is hard to believe as real, but it is.
Cleveland recognized that although Wade and LeBron were ideal running mates in their primes, Wade had little fit on the Cavaliers at that point. In early February 2018, the Cavaliers traded D. Wade back to Miami for a heavily-protected second round pick. The unimpressive stint in northeast Ohio might suggest Wade had no impact on Cleveland in his career. That could not be further from the truth, both in his playing career and his work after retirement.
With LeBron in Miami, Wade gave James the mentorship and teammate that James had so desperately needed in his first stint in Cleveland. The duo won two championships together in four appearances, and the growth in James’ intelligence and dominance in the NBA from these years significantly impacted his performance on the Cavaliers during his return.
In his first Cavs run, LeBron was an undeniable superstar individual talent, but the lack of team building around him and veteran leadership led to disappointing playoff runs year after year. Playing with Wade and Chris Bosh gave LeBron the mindset and ability to uplift his teammates that have profoundly defined his legacy.
The development LeBron experienced in Miami might have never happened with Cleveland’s dysfunctional front office (why did they not trade for Amar’e Stoudamire? Why?)
Wade’s impact on the Cavaliers did not end there. The eight-time All-NBA, three-time All-Defense, NBA Top 75 guard helped cultivate the talent of a modern Cleveland All-Star.