One of the players that could be flying a bit under the radar heading into this new season for the Cleveland Cavaliers is Dean Wade.
Wade started out last season hot, and looked to be in for a career year. He shot 41.1 percent from three-point range in his first 17 appearances, and that, along with his defense made him so valuable for Cleveland.
Then, Wade sustained an AC joint sprain in his shoulder in early December, and he was simply not the same player. He shot only 31.0 percent from three in his 27 regular season games played from that point, and he was still not fully back health-wise, so-to-speak. The injury hindered him offensively, and Wade was a non-factor in the playoffs.
Fortunately, Wade is finally back to being fully healthy, and that’s great for him and the Cavaliers going into this 2023-24 campaign. Wade recently emphasized how he’s in a really good place heading into this year with the media, via Spencer Davies of Cavs Insider, which was terrific news.
Wade has shown that when he’s been healthy, he can be a high quality role piece for the Cavaliers to have for their rotation, and if needed, as a starting forward option. His play in preseason should lead to optimism about his outlook in 2023-24 as well.
It has been preseason action, and the past game was against Israeli club Maccabi Ra’anana, but Wade’s play has been one of the key positives for the Cavaliers thus far.
He has cashed in on nine of his 15 three-point shot attempts, a 60.0 percent hit rate, and he’s averaged 11.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in 19.1 minutes per contest. Wade’s shot the ball with conviction, and his stroke has looked fluid. Plus, as has virtually always occurred over his time with Cleveland, his off-ball sense has led to him getting quality shots.
Wade is reportedly the healthiest he’s felt since before his last shoulder injury happened, and the early results and his play on the floor has substantiated that take.
When Wade has appeared comfortable on the floor with the Cavs in recent seasons, he’s demonstrated he can be one of their better two-way contributors. Even with Wade’s shooting woes after he endured that injury and was not the same offensively, last regular season, Cleveland was 30-14 in games Wade played in.
With his skill set in being able to defend multiple positions, affect team defense with his contests, chasing of shooters and how he helps positional defensive rebounding, Wade makes winning plays.
Although the sample size has to be taken into account, to some extent, the Cavs’ opponents having a point swing of 6.4 points per 100 possessions less last year, per Cleaning The Glass, when Wade on the floor is a notable stat. In that Cleaning The Glass point swing metric, Wade’s splits landed him in the 93rd percentile last year, and in the 89th percentile in 2021-22, for further context.
Now, this coming season and moving forward, it’s paramount Wade, who has had some injury ailments at other times with Cleveland, stays mostly healthy. It’s also realistic to expect Wade’s minutes to vary, as they largely have in prior seasons, and others such as Isaac Okoro, to some degree Caris LeVert and now Georges Niang will be involved, from a rotational standpoint. Two-way wing Emoni Bates has made a splash in preseason, too.
But, even taking all of that into account, with him healthy again and having a good preseason and seemingly training camp, the 6-foot-9 Wade can still be a great two-way role piece for this Cavs team.
Wade can be a nice option for the Cavaliers to utilize at the 3 or 4, depending on matchups. And his ability to run the floor and his athleticism should translate especially well for a Cleveland team looking to push the pace more in 2023-24, and feature far more man and ball movement offensively.