12-Time All-Star and 3-Time NBA Champ Chooses Cavaliers
A few year ago, could you have imagined it?
Having covered them all, I can ask: Who didn’t like guys like Samardo Samuels, Manny Harris and Anthony Parker? It was impossible not to.
But who, during those lean years, could’ve expected that one day it’d all look like this?
Future Hall of Famer, Dwyane Wade, joining a squad that includes his longtime colleague, LeBron James, as well as four-time All-Star Kevin Love, former MVP Derrick Rose, All-NBA Second Teamer Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Korver – who’s led the league in three-point shooting in four of the last five years – and J.R. Smith, the 2013 Sixth Man of the Year who may or may not be asked to reprise that role five years later.
Cleveland’s roster goes even deeper, but Wednesday belongs to Wade – who was bought out by the Bulls, cleared waivers and joined the James Gang for the next leg of a career that will send the three-time Champ to Springfield, Mass.
Wade won two of those titles alongside LeBron, who expressed his feelings with a perfect metaphor after morning practice.
”It’s kind of like when you start school and you walk into the classroom and you’re not quite sure who your classmates are – and you walk in and one of your best friends is in there,” smiled the King. “You’re like, ‘Aw yeah ….this is gonna be fun.’”
It doesn’t hurt that James’ new/old classmate is a 12-time All-Star, an eight-time All-NBA selection and a guy who’s made a dozen trips to the postseason – winning three Rings, earning Finals MVP honors after an epic series against Dallas in 2006.
And like the man selected four spots ahead of him in the iconic 2003 Draft, Wade’s numbers are prolific.
Wade is now the seventh player from the 2003 Draft to play with LeBron in Cleveland – joining Kyle Korver, Mo Williams, Dahntay Jones, James Jones, Sasha Pavlovic, Jason Kapono and Kendrick Perkins.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
In 915 regular season games, Wade’s averaged 23.3 points, 4.8 boards, 5.7 assists and 1.64 steals. In the Playoffs, he’s been just as clutch – averaging 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.55 steals and 1.01 in 172 contests. His 174 postseason blocked shots rank him first among guards all-time.
For all the gaudy statistics Wade’s posted over the years, one thing the 15-year vet from Marquette does not do is take many three-pointers, averaging just 1.6 attempts from long-range over the course of his career.
This does not pose a problem to his new club, which canned 1,067 triples, averaging 13.0 per contest – both tops in the Eastern Conference.
Wade’s presence does present a very good problem to Coach Tyronn Lue, who has to make room for him alongside two players responsible for many of the aforementioned three-pointers, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver, along with arguably his best perimeter defender in Iman Shumpert.
”If you come into a situation and you want to win, if your goal is to win a Championship, everybody has to sacrifice,” Lue said after practice. “There’s gonna be a lot of guys at that position, which is a great problem to have.”
Wade returned to his hometown of Chicago as a free agent last year after spending the previous 13 in Miami – teaming up with LeBron for four, reaching the NBA Finals in each.
”He’s a guy that’s proven – not just individually, but his team having won three Championships,” added Tristan Thompson. “He’s pretty familiar with most of the guys on our team, whether playing against or playing with. So, I think he’s gonna jell pretty well. It’ll be great to add another Championship-mentality player to our team, and it’s another piece to the puzzle.”
Wade, who turns 36 in January, helped the Bulls reach the postseason last year, but his numbers took a slight dip – 18.3 ppg, the lowest mark since his rookie campaign.
“It’s a wonderful time. It’s 90 (degrees) in September in Cleveland. How can you not be happy?”
But it’d be hard to convince the Cavaliers that he was down last year – dropping 24 points in the first meeting and doubling-up with 20 and 10 assists in the third contest, helping the Bulls to three of their four wins against Cleveland in 2016-17.
One year ago, in that first matchup at the United Center, LeBron – having lost a World Series wager to Wade – showed up to the arena in a full Cubs uniform, head-to-toe sans the spikes. This season, they could be in the same booth at Progressive Field watching postseason Tribe together. (At least until the World Series, maybe.)
Wade is now the seventh player from the 2003 Draft to play with LeBron in Cleveland – joining Kyle Korver, Mo Williams, Dahntay Jones, James Jones, Sasha Pavlovic, Jason Kapono and Kendrick Perkins. But this one is just a little different.
Like the rest of this year’s Cavaliers, LeBron came to Camp a hungry, focused individual. But on Wednesday, the four-time MVP could barely bridle his happiness.
”I’m just enjoying life,” James beamed. “It’s a wonderful time. It’s 90 (degrees) in September in Cleveland. How can you not be happy?”