Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Dean Wade, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Max Strus is most likely to start, and the Cavaliers should give him plenty of run alongside the four stars to see how his movement shooting elevates that group. Even so, the best lineup that the Cavaliers have is probably the one where Dean Wade joins the core four.
Wade had a down year last season, with a shoulder injury sidelining him for months and then clearly messing with his shot once he returned. The hope and expectation is that his offseason rehabbing the shoulder should have him back at 100 percent heading into the season.
Even with a down year, this lineup with Wade alongside the four stars had a +17.2 net rating last season. That’s always been the case with Dean Wade; go back a season and the lineup with Wade and four starters (swapping him in for Lauri Markkanen) had a +22.4 net rating in a robust 108 minutes.
Wade is the quintessential glue guy, a good defender and rebounder who makes smart plays and isn’t hunting his own shot. If his 3-pointer returns this season he should be an obvious rotation player and a strong candidate to close games; whether J.B. Bickerstaff and company recognize this is another question.
Given how much they are paying Wade (only $5.7 million this season) and the fact that Bickerstaff didn’t play him in the playoffs last season, it seems unlikely that he will get a crack at starting to begin the season. Hopefully, if Wade continues to fit so well with this team’s stars, he will have a real chance to earn that spot by the end of the season.