While signing Dwyane Wade provides the Cavaliers with another big name, his presence still won’t be enough for Cleveland to dethrone the Golden State Warriors.
The rich get richer. After involving themselves in the blockbuster of the summer, essentially trading Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, the Cleveland Cavaliers have now inked Dwyane Wade on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum.
In doing so, they’ve reunited Wade with his longtime pal and former teammate, LeBron James. But despite the brotherhood and history between the two, Wade isn’t enough to push the Cavs past the Golden State Warriors.
The addition of Wade caps off what, as a whole, has been a productive offseason for the Cavs. In addition to Wade, the Cavs will be going into this season with Thomas, Derrick Rose, Jeff Green, Jae Crowder and Jose Calderon in their rotation. That bunch of veteran players gives head coach Tyronn Lue lots to work with.
With their offseason reinforcements, as well as Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver and James all present, the Cavs now possess one of the deepest rotations in the NBA. But the addition of Wade can only do so much for that grouping.
First things first, the biggest reason why the Cavs pursued Wade was because of his relationship with James; the two were teammates in the past and basically anything James wants, the Cavs grant. But the biggest question mark surrounding this signing is how does Wade exactly propel the Cavs?
Wade all but likely gets the starting nod at the two, but it was a position the Cavs were already deep at. While not quite as high caliber as Wade, the trio of Smith, Shumpert and Korver was certainly a respectable and productive trio; Smith can be a scoring outlet, Shumpert can defend the perimeter and Korver sticks the outside jumper.
So with Wade now present, those three will have their minutes significantly reduced, unless the Cavs ultimately decide that James is their real point guard.
It’s no secret that James is the motor and leader of this offense; he’s a ball-dominant player and likes to be the one to run the offense. However, in years past, Irving was of course categorized as the team’s starting point guard.
With Thomas likely out for a good chunk of the beginning stages of the regular season as he recovers from a hip injury, the Cavs could, on paper, stick James at the point, have Wade at off guard and then play either Smith, Shumpert or Korver at the three. The other option would be to just let Rose handle the rock and replace Smith with Wade at guard.
But no matter how quick Thomas fully recovers or what starting five the Cavs go with, Wade doesn’t make the Cavs good enough to surpass the Warriors.
The Warriors’ offense is generated by their ability to share the rock, play out on the perimeter and play tight, contested defense; they’re a quick bunch. How does Wade help Cleveland match that aspect of their game?
At this stage of his career, Wade is not someone who can wow anybody with his athleticism or quickness. He’s still one of the better shooting guards in the NBA, but he’s best served playing in a halfcourt set as opposed to being relied on to run up and down the floor. Unless the Cavs intend to slow down the entire tempo of the game, adding Wade doesn’t lift them past the Warriors. And with players like James, Thomas, Love and Rose, who all like to run up and down the court, chances are no such drastic change will occur.
If the Cavs are going to do the unthinkable and beat Golden State, they have to be quicker, more decisive and less reliant on James.
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One of the biggest reasons why the Warriors are unstoppable is that they’ve put their egos to the side for the better of their team; Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are perfect models for that. Both players had to endure the major challenge of giving up some of the spotlight and offensive attention to Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. As a result of their unselfishness, the Warriors became an almighty and near unstoppable NBA powerhouse.
If the Cavs continue to rely on just James when it matters most, they stand no chance; they’ll need Thomas, Love, Rose and now Wade to step up and chances are a good chunk of them will. But even if and when Wade does so, it can only do so much.
The Cavs are up against the clock. With a legitimate fear that James will bolt in free agency next summer, they’re going to be all-in for the 2017-18 season and will try to accommodate the Cavs and him in any way possible — which inking Wade is doing. And there’s nothing wrong with adding top-tier or veteran talent to a team with James as its centerpiece, but the reality is that Wade won’t allow the Cavs to win their second championship in three years.
Wade and James are back together; the brotherhood is at an all-time high. But it’s still not enough to put them ahead or past Golden State.