Coming into this season, it was fair to wonder if the real Dean Wade would be back to his former self. Wade started last season hot before a shoulder injury derailed his season, and even after returning, Wade was still affected by the ailment, and he wasn’t nearly the same.
Going into the new campaign, it was encouraging how Wade expressed how he was the best he had felt since before the injury, though, and after a promising preseason, he’s carried that forward.
Thus far, Wade has averaged 5.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 24.8 minutes per contest, and has shot a pretty respectable 35.3 percent from three-point range. He seems to operating in-rhythm, and it’s been good to watch him comfortable out there again.
Wade was not involved much in the action for Cleveland against the Indiana Pacers in Cleveland’s first game in group play of the NBA In-Season Tournament on Friday, when the Cavaliers lost 121-116, largely due to their lackluster first half. Wade played just three minutes Friday night, and that was likely due to Jarrett Allen’s return from injury. Wade was a minus-nine in those minutes, but in a wonky lineup, it’s tough to put that solely on him.
That aside, with how Wade has mostly been playing for the most part to begin this season, J.B. Bickerstaff and the Cavaliers should be finding ways to keep Wade in the fold. Whether it’s been from spot starts, or scenarios where he’s been one of Cleveland’s key bench pieces, Wade has proven he’s a quality role player, and three-and-D player, when healthy.
As was previously stated, Wade’s traditional numbers are not going to be eye-popping. Prior to last game when he played a few minutes, he again had 5.0 points and 3.5 boards per contest.
Despite that, he’s an effective off-ball contributor, and Wade’s stroke has looked much better in early-season play, as he’s followed up what was a strong preseason. And with him being one of Cleveland’s better defenders, the Cavs still should be giving him minutes, even with Allen back.
It’s not as if Allen played a typical allotment of minutes at 21 on Friday, and the Cavs will be easing him back into things it seems, but with Max Strus, Isaac Okoro and Georges Niang in mind, Wade’s lack of minutes were a notable takeaway.
Now, Wade’s role is one that has long been somewhat fluid in recent seasons, and with it also at times depending on injuries.
That being said, even with his shooting woes in the second half of last year’s regular season with the shoulder ailment, Wade’s defense and subtle, meaningful plays still led to him helping impact winning. Cleveland was 30-14 last regular season in games he played in.
While he’s not going to have tons of offensive production as a lower usage player, Wade still is a player who can mesh with the Cavs’ top options, he moves so well without the ball, and Cleveland benefits defensively from his athleticism, team feel and length.
So, even with the others involved, for his three-and-D play, unselfishness on both ends and being able to factor in at the 3 and 4, the Cavs must find ways to get him involved consistently for stretches. He has had his share of minutes prior to Friday, but whether he receives legit minutes in upcoming games is something to keep an eye on as the 2-4 Cavaliers look to get things back on track with Garland and Allen now back.