How about some good news tied to K-State basketball?
Wade’s run started with a slow burn after Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. went down with injuries at the end of February, suddenly pushing the normally end of the bench Wade into a starting role.
His first game as a starter came on February 23rd against the Atlanta Hawks. Dean put up a pedestrian 5 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks in 21 minutes, but the Cavs managed to win the game 112-111.
He got the starting call again the next night against the Rockets and things started to heat up. Wade put up 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists in 20 minutes the next night in a 112-96 win. The important part of Wade’s stat line wasn’t his 11 points (although they obviously helped the team) but his 2-2 performance from deep. If you want to carve out a role in the modern NBA as a big man, you better be able to shoot it from deep, and Dean is doing exactly that.
Wade vs Rockets
The third game in his starting spree came against the 76ers on February, 27th. His scoring cooled off, but to compensate, he hit the boards with reckless abandoned. He put up 6 points (1-3 from 3), 12 rebounds (team leading), and an assist in 27 minutes of work. The Cavs won the game 112-109 Cleveland, and Wade once again showed his value to the organization on the court.
Next up for NBA starter Dean Wade was a March 1st tilt with Rockets. Once again, Dean put up a respectable line scoring 8 points (2-4 from deep), pulling down 5 rebounds, and adding an assist and a block to round out his line in 28 minutes. The Cavs won the game 101-90 keeping the Wade winning streak alive at 4.
Wade once again received the starting nod from J.B. Bickerstaff against the Pacers on March 3rd, and he put in serious work. In 31 minutes of action he poured in 17 points (5-8 from 3), snatched 6 rebounds, handed out 2 assists, and added a steal for flare. The Cavs came up short, 114-111, for the first time since Dean was inserted into the starting lineup, but it certainly wasn’t because of Wade’s effort at the power forward position
Wade vs Pacers
It’s tough to predict, but Wade’s run of a starter has more than justified his roster slot. He’ll inevitably be sent back to the bench this season once Nance Jr. and Kevin Love return to the lineup, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get more burn than he did prior to his recent run. Over the last 5 games, Wade has gone 11/19 from deep and that type of shooting is exactly what it’s going to take to find a permanent spot in the NBA.
During his run with the Wildcats, Wade always stood out as the most NBA capable player on the roster. His game aligns perfectly with what NBA franchises look for in a role playing big man. He’s a low usage, low volume, high accuracy 3 point shooter who can contribute on the glass and guard his position at a reasonable level. He reminds me a little of a poor mans version of Pacers All-Star Domantas Sabonis.
I’m interested to see how Cleveland plays this heading down the stretch. Cleveland (currently 14-22 on the year) isn’t built to win in the short term. Love and Nance could both be seen as desirable assets for a playoff contending team. If the Cavs front office are comfortable with Dean playing a larger role on the team, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they try and move either Love or Nance for draft assets and roll with Wade playing a more long term. Even if that doesn’t shake out, the last 5 games have been a great showcase for his skill set for the rest of the league.
Based on his recent play, I think he’ll have a long, fruitful NBA career, most likely as a valuable 2nd unit piece. That’s a good living if you can manage it.