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Does Dwyane Wade Push Cleveland to the Next Level?

Dwyane Wade is still a big name, but does he provide enough value for Cleveland to challenge the Warriors?

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Just a year after leaving the Miami HEAT for his hometown Chicago Bulls, Dwyane Wade is taking his talents to The Land.

The Vertical’s Shams Charania reported that Wade has agreed to a one-year, $2.3 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers following his buyout with the Bulls. Teaming up with LeBron James, with whom he won two titles in Miami, Wade is hoping to hoist his fourth Larry O’Brien Trophy while the Cavaliers are looking to capture their second title as a franchise.

But what chance do the Cavaliers really have of usurping the reigning champion Golden State Warriors? While Cleveland may have the best player on the planet in James, the talent around him is severely lacking, at least in comparison to the Warriors. On a roster constructed primarily of aging veterans, does Wade — a 14-year veteran himself — really move the needle enough to keep the Cavaliers from falling to Golden State in the NBA Finals for the second year in a row?

No, he doesn’t.

After shipping out their second best player in Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers will be hard pressed to topple Golden State in 2017, even with the reformed James-Wade tandem. While Isaiah Thomas — acquired in the deal that sent Irving to the Boston Celtics — is a proven scorer and willing passer, he isn’t expected to see the floor until January due to a hip injury sustained last season. The defense is still a glaring weakness. The departure of Irving’s 25.2 points per game from the starting lineup is another problem the team needs to address as well.

Overall, the Cavaliers roster has the look of one that is another year older and another year slower, undoubtedly a problem in today’s fast-paced, high-intensity NBA. Moreover, the Western Conference saw an influx of star power unlike any other in recent memory, bolstering many teams that were already contenders, while the new-look Celtics, the rising Milwaukee Bucks and other hardnosed teams will present their own challenges for the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.

Wade, 35, isn’t the playmaker he once was in Miami either.

No one is doubting Wade’s status as a Hall of Famer. But as an aging player in a young man’s game, Wade’s seat among the true elite has long been vacated; anyone expecting to see the same James-Wade duo of old is sure to be disappointed. Many would argue that 2016 was Wade’s worst season since his rookie year, the only other time he wasn’t a member of the All-Star team.

While he initially saw a stats boost following James’ return to Cleveland following the 2013-14 season, Wade has since seen a steady decline in his points and assists per game outputs, coupled with a dip in his field goal percentage. Last season, Wade registered the second lowest Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and the worst Effective Field Goal percentage of his career, coming in at 18.5 (15 being league average) and 45.7 percent, respectively, as well. Combining all of that with his extensive history with knee issues and it’s hard to see Wade as the piece that pushes Cleveland to the top.

The reunion of James and Wade will almost certainly be fun; the chemistry between the two both on and off the floor is on another level compared to most tandems. The occasional turn back the clock performances from ‘Flash’ will not only be exciting for Cleveland fans but the NBA as a whole, too. However, Wade, being the player that he is today, just simply isn’t the one to propel the Cavaliers to the next level. While Wade is a nice addition, he surely won’t be the last for a Cleveland squad trying to get itself on level footing with Golden State.

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