Following the 2023 trade deadline, the Cavaliers agreed on a buyout with Kevin Love, allowing him to explore new destinations that could offer him more playing time than Cleveland could.
A deciding factor in parting ways with the final member of the 2016 NBA Finals roster was the belief that Dean Wade was emerging as a successor to Love. Dean Wade had shown true consistency from deep last season, and his hardened defense gave the Cavaliers reason to improve his role.
The timing behind the moves ended up unfortunate, as Wade spent the rest of the season and postseason recovering from a lingering shoulder injury that decimated his shooting form. Wade went from a consistent 40 percent from deep before February 2023, falling down to 23.3 percent with the injury issue being the root cause. His absence as a steady producer pushed Wade out of the rotation and hurt the Cavaliers’ chances in the playoffs.
This summer, Wade’s ability to return to form was undeniably crucial for Cleveland’s season. If he was the same player the team trusted last year, Wade could be a secret weapon for the Cavaliers as a tall forward with range. Thankfully, Wade had a strong preseason, landing 56.3 percent of his four 3-point attempts per game.
In addition to his offensive rebirth, Wade’s defense and rebounding improved in the preseason, grabbing 4.8 rebounds and holding his own both on the perimeter and interior. If Wade can maintain his production, he could prove to be an invaluable 3-and-D forward in Cleveland this season. With both Georges Niang and Wade as options at the backup four spot, the Cavaliers’ depth and versatility will be hard to overappreciate.
The preseason will only offer a glimpse into what the Cavaliers can achieve this year, but the signs of even greater success are there. Over the coming 82 games and following playoffs, Cleveland will have a lot more to prove to themselves and the world.