Rumors are swirling that Dwyane Wade could be bought out of his contract by the Chicago Bulls and wind up signing with the Cavs. It seems great, but is D-Wade too little, too late?
Dwyane Wade is a surefire Hall of Famer. He will eventually retire as either the third or fourth best shooting guard in NBA history behind Kobe, MJ, and possibly Jerry West. He had a six-season run during which he averaged 27 points, 6.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block. He is a 12-time All-Star, a 19-time Player of the Week (which is a lot when you've been in the same conference as LeBron James), and a six-time Player of the Month. He has been named to an All-NBA team 10 times and All-NBA Defensive team four times. He's one of the best shot-blocking guards of all time, proven by his becoming the first player under 6'4" to record 100 blocks in a season and 700 in a career. He even has a Wikipedia page dedicated to his career accomplishments.
So why am I not more excited about the possibility of him joining the Cleveland Cavaliers? Well...
Dwyane Wade turns 36 in January. He has played well over 30,000 career minutes despite continual injuries. He has played 70+ games once since the end of the 2010-2011 season. He appeared to be a shell of his former self in the 2017 playoffs. He has slowed considerably. He has never shot better than 31% on three-pointers. He made his mark as a slasher, but he can no longer slash.
In fact, looking at Wade's effectiveness on Synergy Sports shines some troubling light on his situation. Overall, Wade was in just the 34th percentile in the NBA in points per possession on offense. He was above average (74th percentile) as a pick and roll ball handler, and 60th and 62nd percentile in isolations and post-ups, respectively. However, he was 40th percentile or worse in transition, handoffs, off screens, on cuts, and spotting up.
That's not a great list, but if you don't believe me about how he's aging, ask his wife, Gabrielle Union.
For Cavs fans, there are two questions.
What would Wade actually bring to the table?
Knowing what we know, Dwyane Wade wouldn't be a starter. He would probably be the sixth man, but he'd have a lot of old guys as competition (although it's unclear if Deron Williams will be back next year). It would be an exciting prospect to have Wade on the roster, but we've all seen that the best teammates for LeBron James are great shooters who can defend. Wade is not that.
Perhaps he would function as the second unit's playmaker, as he can still handle the ball, according to those pick and roll stats. This could work, seeing as pick and rolls are the only semblance of order in the Cavaliers offense. But what are the situations he's getting into? Who's setting screens on the second unit and is Wade the primary ball-handler? He would have to be, right? Since he isn't a high-volume scorer anymore, he would have to lean into this role.
At most, Dwyane Wade would play 15-25 minutes per game. He's too old and beaten up to be a huge factor during the regular season, and the whole point would be to make sure he's ready to go for the playoffs, which brings us to question #2.
Would Dwyane Wade help the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Warriors?
Yikes. I'm not sure he would. Wade was a touch below league average as a defender across almost every play type, per Synergy. He would help a bit on offense, as he's still probably better than Richard Jefferson and Iman Shumpert, but he's not as good defensively as either of them, per Synergy.
Wade would be useful in spurts where Deron Williams was whatever the polar opposite of "useful" is in the Finals, but could he reasonably defend anyone in a lineup of Klay, Steph, Draymond, KD, and Whoever Replaces Iguodala When He Signs for $20 Million?
Not likely. I guess Wade could hang near Klay, but he'd give up three to four inches in height.
At best, Dwyane Wade in Cleveland would be a "minimal help, minimal hurt" situation. He may add a few wins when they lean heavily on the bench. He could save possessions while LeBron rests or win games when LeBron sits (aside: I still think LeBron James will take at least a week off in the middle of this season - maybe it's a phantom injury, maybe he just goes on vacation, I don't know), but it doesn't seem like he'd see the floor much against the Warriors.
For better or worse, "will it help them beat Golden State?" is the only question that matters to the Cavaliers at this point (that and, you know, "Who's the GM?" or "Who makes decisions about personnel here?"). Cleveland is currently the overwhelming favorites to win the Eastern Conference next season, and with good reason. Adding Dwyane Wade wouldn't change that.
My overall impression is to give this deal a hearty why not? If Wade wants to join LeBron and the Cavs at a tiny price tag and the expectations are low - roughly what RJ gave in 2016 but with worse defense - there's no huge reason the Cavs shouldn't try it.
Unless you count "this team needs to get younger and learn how to play without LeBron as a huge reason.