Can Dwyane Wade Help the Cavaliers Get Past Golden State?
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade never bothered to keep their bromance on the D.L., discussing time and again how much they'd love to resurrect an on-court partnership that brought a couple of trophies to Miami.
Dwyane Wade is nearing a commitment to sign with Cleveland and could finalize decision as soon as Wednesday, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 26, 2017
So the long-anticipated reunion between the BFFs looks like it'll be a thing -- but is it the right thing? Does adding the 35-year-old Wade to a starting lineup anchored by the almost-33-year-old James, a slow-footed and defensively-challenged Kevin Love, and an absent and/or hobbled Isaiah Thomas move the Cavs' needle to the point that they can take down the defending champion Golden State Warriors in a potential NBA Finals rematch?
To kick off our search for an answer, let's compare James' career averages with and without Wade, as per StatMuse.
|With Dwyane Wade||26.5||7.5||6.8||1.6||0.6|
|Without Dwyane Wade||27.1||7.3||7.0||1.6||0.8|
And here's Wade with and without James.
|With LeBron James||22.9||5.3||4.9||1.7||0.9|
|Without LeBron James||23.3||4.8||5.7||1.6||0.9|
When together, the future Hall of Famers slightly sacrificed their scoring but amped up their rebounding. Logic would dictate that an extra rebound or three could be a game-changer, but in their three Finals series against the Dubs, boards weren't a problem for the Cavs, who averaged 45.0 nightly rebounds to Golden State's 43.3.
Newsflash: Cleveland lost two of those three series.
Now during the regular season, on a game-by-game basis, more boards from your wings is a good thing. Against the Warriors, it's no great shakes.
In a vacuum, the numbers tell us that a James/Wade partnership doesn't take down the Dubs. But if Wade is better than Cleveland's 2016 crop of shooting guards, that might do the trick. Right?
About That Crop...
|J.R. Smith (Cleveland)||8.6||2.8||1.5||1.0||0.3|
|Iman Shumpert (Cleveland)||7.5||2.9||1.4||0.8||0.4|
|Kyle Korver (Cleveland)||10.7||2.8||1.0||0.3||0.2|
|Dwyane Wade (Chicago)||18.3||4.5||3.8||1.4||0.7|
Even if Wade just approaches his Bulls numbers in Cleveland -- which weren't tragically far away from his career averages of 23.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.9 blocks -- he's still an improvement over the Smith/Shumpert/Korver triumvirate. But its not enough to topple the champs.
Where Does This Leave Cleveland?
With Wade in tow, the Cavs have improved just by virtue of the fact that they now sport a proven, oftentimes deadly option at the two-spot and -- with Smith and/or Shumpert relegated to the bench -- a stronger second unit. So that's a good thing.
Another good thing: nERD, our in-house efficiency metric, tells us that Cleveland and their 69.9 team nERD will easily take down the defending Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics and their 58.6 team nERD. (Wade, it should be noted, brings a blah -0.7 projected nERD to Cleveland, but it's still a vast upgrade over Shumpert's -4.4 and Smith's -3.5.)
The Warriors, however, are projected to drop a team nERD of 84.9. If they do indeed deliver that whopping number, it would be the highest team nERD in our database, which dates back to 2000. Yikes.
The James/Wade reunion tour will be a blast for fans and scary for the Eastern Conference, but the Golden State Warriors probably aren't sweating it.