The Cleveland Cavaliers are starting Dean Wade again in the preseason but what is his ceiling?
Evan Mobley and Kevin Love are out for the second preseason game of the year for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mobley is dealing with a sore ankle and will miss the preseason and maybe even the start of the regular season by a game or so. Love is being held out from the second game due to a knee contusion that he recently suffered. Neither injury is serious and for Love, preseason at this point is rather unnecessary. So no big deal there. Their missed time, however, gives Dean Wade a chance to start at power forward.
Wade just got a new, 3-year, $18.5 million contract extension this offseason. The 25-year-old, undrafted prospect from Kansa State, has been with the Cavs since 2019. He and Lamar Stevens represent a testament to what the Cavs can do with their scouting and talent development departments.
Stevens often plays like a slashing forward on offense and isn’t much of a shooter but Wade is making leaps with his offense, able to cut and work underneath as an interior player but also able to move to the three-point line and hit some threes. He’s very versatile offensively and can even create his own shot underneath.
His defense, however, is what has really earned him praise. He’s not someone who is overly fast up and down the court, but he has a great nimbleness about him that allows him to seal offensive players from the rim and can contest just about any shot someone takes. He’s so useful that he was used to guarding against the best big shooters on opposing teams, like Kevin Durant.
Dean Wade is a potential starter for the Cleveland Cavaliers
Dean Wade is not better than Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, or Kevin Love. Yet, Love is 34, and Wade is just 25. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that in a year or two when Love retires (or if the team lets him leave in free agency) that the team wouldn’t be able to rely on Wade getting Love’s role as a sixth man.
Should the Cavs be so bold, he could, and probably should roll into the starting small forward spot for this season. He’s a heavier 3-and-D type player but his ability to get in your face on both ends of the court is invaluable. I think a player like him, with his skillsets (or Love for that matter), would be the perfect player to replace Lauri Markkanen in the team’s starting rotation.
Wade is a lot like Markkanen in how they play and giving Wade serious minutes would show us if he’s truly a starting-caliber player. I don’t think he’ll ever be an All-Star but he may be the perfect compliment piece for this team and that’s pretty good for an undrafted kid out of Kansas State.