Blogtable: Are you surprised by Dwyane Wade's move to the bench?
Each week, we ask our scribes to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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The Cavs have moved J.R. Smith back into the starting lineup, with Dwyane Wade coming off the bench. Are you surprised by this move, just three games into the season?
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David Aldridge: No. They couldn’t run the risk of losing Smith; he was brooding over getting benched, and not without some justification. More importantly, Wade and Derrick Rose (pre-ankle injury) simply was not going to work long-term playing off of LeBron James. He needs multiple shooters on the floor to maximize his impact. Smith, at this stage, is just a better perimeter shooter than Wade. And Wade could stand to have his minutes cut back at this point in his career, anyway. Right move.
Steve Aschburner: Wade should have been appointed captain of the Cavs bench upon his arrival. What with Kevin Love getting mostly early touches there and Derrick Rose as a ball-reliant point guard, there was too much competition for shots in that starting lineup. Off the bench, though, Wade can play with a green light against other teams’ second units. Smith, meanwhile, has taken pride in his improvement as a defender, while retaining the 3-point potency that earns him his keep. So I’m not surprised at all — this should have been Plan A.
Shaun Powell: This makes sense on all levels. J.R. was angry about coming off the bench? Then keep him happy. You need him to be productive and instead of pouting. Dwyane Wade, at this stage of his career, should be OK with a Sixth Man role, especially since he’s likely to be on the floor in the fourth quarter when it counts. Does he really need the ego-gratifying gesture of starting, or is he more secure than that? I thought this should’ve been the plan from the get-go; if it took three games to get it right, better late than never.
John Schuhmann: It has always made sense. It was just a matter of how long pride and deference (to a future Hall of Famer) would get in the way. It was still interesting to see no nominal point guard (meaning no Jose Calderon, with both Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose injured) in the Cavs’ rotation on Tuesday, with LeBron James acting as the point guard with the starters, Wade running the offense when James was on the bench, and the two of them only playing eight minutes together. That configuration puts the maximum amount of shooting around those guys and, not coincidentally, the win over the Bulls was the Cavs’ best offensive game (127 points scored per 100 possessions) of the season so far.
Sekou Smith: I am a little surprised the move came as soon as it did. Just watching the way the Cavaliers operated early on this season it was clear that not everyone was comfortable with the starting lineup and playing rotations. I know there are plenty of theories as to whose idea it was to make the change now. I don’t feel like playing that game. I’ll just go ahead and commend Dwyane Wade for recognizing that he wasn’t a good fit in the first five and making the move sooner rather than later. It eases the pressure on all involved, Wade in particular. He knows he isn’t the player he was as recently as four years ago. There’s no shame in a future Hall of Famer making an adjustment to a reserve role at this stage of his career. And if and when he’s needed in April and beyond, you know coach Tyronn Lue can count on getting the best from his starting group and his reserves.