Early bright signs for new-look Cavs?

NBA.com Global on Oct 08, 2017 08:54 AM
Early bright signs for new-look Cavs?
Cleveland Cavaliers' Dwyane Wade (9) makes a layup under the basket against the Indiana Pacers during the second quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Scott R. Galvin)

By Matt Petersen, NBA.com

There is no shame in signing for the veteran's minimum, especially if the contract in question is offered by a championship contender.

Still, the lack of digits in front of the dollar sign marks just how far Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade have fallen from their respective glory days. The former became the youngest NBA Kia Most Valuable Player in 2011 at age 22 while in Chicago. The latter was Finals MVP in 2006 and named an Eastern Conference All-Star 12 seasons in a row, all with the Miami Heat.

Injuries and age have sapped much of their prime, but perhaps not as much as some might have thought. On Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), with LeBron James out nursing a sore ankle, Wade and Rose put on a preseason show that might be enough to hold the curtain until All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas returns from a hip injury. The veteran duo combined for 35 points on 15-of-22 shooting in just 36 minutes. Cleveland fell to Indiana, 106-102.

With Rose on the floor, the Cavaliers outscored Indiana by 17 points. The veteran point guard hit both of his three-point attempts while mixing in his usual forays to the rim, a balance which will be key when James returns for regular season action.

Rose could assume a significant role in the backcourt while Thomas is out. The nine-year guard is coming off his lone season in New York where he averaged 18.0 points per game. He signed with Cleveland as a free agent during the offseason.

Meanwhile, Wade did his damage in typical fashion, using post-ups, drives and cuts to create opportunities well inside the three-point arc. Halfway through the second quarter, Wade turned back the clock with a vicious baseline drive and reverse jam.

Like Rose, Wade is just one year removed from his original team after spending a single season in Chicago. His offensive output in the Windy City -- 18.3 points per game on 43.4 percent shooting -- was his lowest since his rookie season of 2003-04. He exceeded those numbers with 20 points in just 22 minutes on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time).

It's only preseason, but Cleveland's depth might have as much talent as it does credentials.

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