Dean Wade vs. Caris LeVert - Who Should Start?

Dean Wade vs. Caris LeVert - Who Should Start?

Drew Thirion
1 year ago
3 min read
Cleveland Cavaliers' Dean Wade shoots a jump shot during game vs. New York Knicks

The Cavs are in an exciting situation. They have tons of talent on their roster and do not have enough spots for all this talent. 

With Darius Garland returning to a crowded Cleveland starting lineup, either Caris LeVert or Dean Wade will take over the starting small forward job. LeVert won the opening night job, but since Garland’s injury, the duo of Isaac Okoro and Dean Wade have done an excellent job filling in as starters. 

I think everyone agrees Okoro won’t be a starter this season, despite his consistent lockdown defense. His 1.7 points per game and a true shooting percentage of 26.5 percent can’t be on the court for long stretches of time. I’d argue that the Cavs need to think about giving some of his minutes to Lamar Stevens, but that’s for a future piece.

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Dean Wade vs. Caris LeVert

That leaves us with the battle between Wade and LeVert. The obvious choice is LeVert. He’s shown great scoring flashes this season, especially in his 41-point explosion against the Boston Celtics. He’s averaging a career-high in three point percentage, 12 percent higher than any season prior, while also dishing out a career-high in assists at 6.7.

Dean Wade on the other hand has doubled his points per game from last season, while also shooting an unconscious 62 percent from behind the arc. He won’t be able to keep this hot shooting going all season, but his career-best defensive rating of 108, while guarding the opponent's best wings, is something we can hopefully see all season long.

LeVert Off The Bench

LeVert is the easy pick because he’s a proven commodity, but I think he would be better suited off the bench. Raul Neto is currently running the backup point guard position, but he’s easily been the weakest link for Cleveland this year. 

He’s been a surprisingly solid on-ball defender, but his abysmal 16 percent three-point shooting, and lackluster playmaking has left more to be desired out of a backup point guard. 

The other reason I like LeVert off the bench is the possibility for more pick-and-roll options with Kevin Love. Love’s really starting to get going this season, and has continued to thrive in his burst-scoring role off the bench from last season. With Love on the floor, having a more versatile defender like LeVert on the floor is very valuable in switching situations. 

For the starting unit, it seems like Wade would continue to fit in perfectly with Garland and Donovan Mitchell. Wade is currently shooting over 50 percent from both corner three locations and is the perfect kick-out man for aggressive drivers like Mitchell and Garland. 

Not only that, but Wade is in the 85th percentile for mixed-team defense, which grades how well you stop your man from scoring, and how well your team’s defense is when you are on the court. 

Having three elite defenders in your starting lineup to make up for the defensive deficiencies of Garland and Mitchell will be insanely vital against strong offenses.

It’s still super early this year, but this Cavs team looks very elite on both ends of the floor. Beating the Celtics twice already has to feel good for this young Cavs team, one that is still yet to reach their highest level of play. 

It’s also quite a nice luxury to have too much talent on a roster. This is definitely something previous Cavs teams wish they could have been dealing with! 

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