Dean Wade might be a player some are not expecting to be much of a contributor for the Cleveland Cavaliers this coming season.
Wade started last season off quite well as a three-and-D player, and was off to a heck of a start for the Cavaliers. He connected on 41.1 percent of his three-point attempts in his first 17 appearances, of which included nine starts, and his defense gave Cleveland a lift.
Unfortunately, Wade sustained an AC joint sprain in his shoulder, missed nearly a month-and-a-half, and was not nearly the same as a catch-and-shoot threat. In his 27 ensuing regular season appearances, Wade connected on only 31.0 percent of his three-point shots.
Wade was reportedly still dealing with soreness related to the injury for some time even after his return in late January, and for a player that could have some minutes variance anyway, that couldn’t have aided him in getting going again offensively.
Now, on the plus side, Wade did still help Cleveland’s defense far more often than not, and he has consistently done that when he’s had rotational chances at least fairly regularly. He did the prior season, too.
All of that being said, though, this coming season and looking onward for him, it’s abundantly clear Wade has to remain available.
Availability is obviously crucial for all players, and despite others being involved, and the arrival of Georges Niang and Max Strus this offseason, Wade can still be a very useful player for Cleveland.
Whether it’s as a possible starting option at the 3, or in rotational minutes, generally, Wade is a quality player to have for Cleveland. He’s a meaningful three-and-D option, his 6-foot-9 frame, combined with good positional awareness, can be useful for defense of bigger wings and forwards, and Wade makes subtle plays to impact winning.
It’s not all because of him of course, as Wade had 4.7 points in 20.3 minutes per contest, but in Wade’s appearances last regular season, the Cavaliers were 30-14 when Wade played. That was impressive, even with the shooting ups and downs.
Wade is typically in advantageous spots to help Cleveland’s team defensive, and with his shooting, when healthy, and off-ball feel on both ends, he can be a valuable role piece. The key, to reiterate, is Wade remaining healthy for the Cavs.
Wade was not the same last season after the aforementioned injury, and while he still probably could’ve been useful for Cleveland’s defense and rebounding efforts in the playoffs against the New York Knicks, he seemed lost then offensively. That didn’t help his case.
If Wade can be mostly healthy this coming season, he can give the Cavaliers a lift more often than not, if the opportunities come. If not, his rotational outlook with Cleveland would seem pretty bleak.
Granted, Wade has been often mentioned over the offseason as a possible trade candidate as part of a package, and perhaps that plays out eventually by the deadline, anyway. But, if he sticks, he’s a winning role player for this Cleveland squad.
To drive it home, being for the most part, available, is everything for Wade, though. He only appeared in 44 games in the 2022-23 regular season, and in the season prior, he missed most of the closing stretch of the 2021-22 season because of a meniscus tear. There have been some other minor ailments at times for him in recent seasons as well.
If Wade is able to be in there for Cleveland, that will only help his rotational case. Hopefully, he can get off to a good start again in 2023-24, and re-establish himself as one of the Cavs’ best role pieces.