The Cavs have built the perfect roster — if this was 2010-11.
In 2010-11, LeBron James (26.7), Dwyane Wade (25.5), Derrick Rose (25.0), and Kevin Love (20.0) finished second, fourth, seventh and 19th in the NBA in scoring.
Love (15.2) led the league in rebounds. Rose won the MVP Award. Rose and LeBron were first team All-NBA. Wade was second team All-NBA. LeBron, Wade, Rose and Love were all selected for the NBA All-Star game.
Today, LeBron, Wade, Rose and Love are all members of the Cavs.
Right roster, wrong season?
But maybe not.
This actually could be the right roster, in the right season, for all the right reasons.
Start with the addition of Wade, who although he is 10 years older than Kyrie Irving, is more defensively rugged, mentally tough, team-oriented, and — see the Miami years — more LeBron-friendly than the me-first former Cavs point guard.
Not that the Cavs signed Wade to replace Irving. They didn’t. They signed Wade because his presence, experience, leadership and whatever’s left in his tank, should make the Cavs better.
This edition of the Cavs gets more intriguing by the week. For one thing, we know everyone’s on the same page, the Cavs having traded their different pager to Boston.
“I like our additions,” Coach Tyronn Lue said at the team’s media day Monday. “We’ve got guys with chips on their shoulders. Some of them could have gone to other teams for more money, but they wanted to come here. They’ve made their money, now they want to win.”
Wade is the poster boy for that, a 12-time all-star, former Finals MVP, who agreed to play for the league minimum because he wants to win it all, which he and LeBron did twice in four tries in Miami.
At 35, Wade is no longer an All-NBA player, but you’d have a hard time finding anyone in the league who is smarter, tougher or more competitive.
Don’t underestimate the importance of that.
Everything the Cavs do these days is done with an eye towards how it helps them compete against the Golden State Warriors. Clearly, and rightfully, the Cavs have settled on trench warfare as their go-to antidote for the Steph (and friends) infection that has denied the Cavs The Big Trophy in two of the last three years.
If you can’t outscore ’em, out-tough ’em.
You get the sense that Wade wants one more crack at playing on the big stage for the big ring. He should get that here. It’s why he IS here. He and LeBron give the Cavs two leaders who are physical, ultra-competitive warriors.
Wade, because he’s a winner wanting to win again.
LeBron, because he undoubtedly relishes the chance to win it all in his first season without Irving, the only player in the world who doesn’t want to play with LeBron.
Piece by piece, the Cavs have added a hustle and muscle mix that could be enough to give Wade one last hurrah, and Cleveland one more parade.
Wade, with even more miles on his tires than LeBron, can’t play 36 minutes of in-your-shirt defense. But for selected segments of games — such as the last six or eight minutes of the fourth quarter of a playoff game — the opposing team will know Wade is out there.
Think about the physically punishing possibilities present in a Cavs finishing five of LeBron, Wade, Jae Crowder, Tristan Thompson and the perimeter shooter of Lue’s choice.
Think about Wade and a healthy Rose sharing minutes, and arm bars, in the backcourt, with a dash of J.R. Smith gun slinging at the offensive end, and, suitably inspired by the team’s lunch pail mentality, doing J.R. things at the defensive end.
Then think about when January rolls around and the Cavs roll out scoring machine Isaiah Thomas, who last year with the Celtics was a one-man team in the fourth quarter.
Thomas is a defensive liability, not, as was the case with last year’s point guard, because of a lack of effort, but because 5-9 is 5-9, no matter how hard you play. Hey, it’s not like the holdover Cavs don’t have experience playing with a no-defense point guard.
What’s most important is that the Cavs, with Wade, have added the very embodiment of the kind of team they need to be to beat Golden State. Tough, relentless, physical. Who, besides Draymond Green, is that on the Warriors?
The Cavs can put five of those kinds of guys on the floor at once.
LeBron and Wade are together again, which should be a source of invigoration for both of them. Two basketball buddies, who made their bones by creating a super team that twice brought The Big Trophy to South Beach.
Now they’re older, wiser and hungrier. With a chance to do it again, up here.
In Miami North.
- Cavs moving Love to center and putting Crowder in starting lineup
- Cavs: Lue announces that Wade will start at shooting guard in place of Smith
- Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue has a plan for how to use Dwyane Wade; LeBron James day-to-day with ankle injury
- Derrick Rose feeling fresh, reminds everyone he's still just 28, says he's confident he can still thrive
- "That's one of my best friends" Dwyane Wade officially reunites with LeBron James
- Numerous reports have Dwyane Wade signing with Cavs
- Commentary: New Cavs season will have a little bit of everything
- Cavs notes: Isaiah Thomas could be ready to go by January; Cavs a favorite to land Dwyane Wade
- Cavaliers Media Day: Lebron James talks free agency, Kyrie Irving, more
- LeBron James speaks out about Trump, national anthem
- Is Dwyane Wade's next stop Cleveland?
- Rick Noland: New faces, same goal as Cavaliers get ready for another season