3 Cleveland Cavaliers who deserve more playing time

Tristan Thompson and Dean Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Tristan Thompson and Dean Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder and Dean Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Joshua Gateley/Getty Images /

No. 1: Dean Wade

Most of the players already in the rotation are logging big minutes to bear the load of all of the injury absences. Evan Mobley is playing extremely well but it isn’t practical to have him play more than the 33 minutes per game he is logging, one of the top numbers already among bigs. Max Strus is the Cavaliers’ secret weapon but is playing 35 minutes per game; Donovan Mitchell is at 36.2. The Cavs likely need to find a way to dial their numbers back slightly, and as well as Caris LeVert is playing force-feeding him 33 minutes per game off the bench is not the best option.

The one rotation player who can stand to see an uptick in minutes is Dean Wade. When the Cavaliers are at full health they will start a relatively small lineup with the 6’5″ Max Strus at the 3, but injuries allowed Cleveland to stumble onto a unit that brings a size advantage to bear: Mitchell and Strus in the backcourt, Mobley and Jarrett Allen in the frontcourt, and the 6’9″ Dean Wade at small forward.

That group had never played all together before Wednesday night’s game in Portland and they logged 10 minutes in that time, outscoring the Blazers by nine points for a net rating of +50.5. His combination of size, defense and shooting makes him the perfect complement to nearly every lineup the Cavs can deploy. He doesn’t bring much of any shot creation, he can struggle defending quicker guards and he can get foul-happy at times — there’s a reason he’s not always the coaching staff’s first option — but his skillset is exactly what the Cavs need to glue their lineups together.

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Georges Niang will shoot better than he has to start the season, but he doesn’t bring the defensive versatility. Strus plays hard but doesn’t have the size. Isaac Okoro, when healthy, doesn’t provide any sort of gravity on offense. Dean Wade is the answer to so many questions the Cavaliers are asking, and he should be at the front of the line to receive more minutes moving forward.