LeBron James has now gone from defending Dwyane Wade’s addition to the Cleveland Cavaliers roster, to campaigning for his best buddy to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award.
From ESPN.com’s Arash Markazi:
LeBron believes that Dwyane Wade is the leading candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year Award right now after his early success off the bench: “He’s probably the number one candidate,” James said after Saturday’s shootaround. “Not even being biased, that’s one of my best friends. Just looking at the teams.”
Yes, Wade has been pretty good for the Cavaliers in recent weeks. He’s averaging 12.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists on 46.6 percent shooting, including a 34.8 percent clip from downtown, since being moved to the bench on Oct. 24—a stretch that spans an impressive 19 games. During this time, the Cavaliers’ second unit has been straight fire, posting a top-three offensive rating and top-eight net rating, according to NBA.com.
Sprinkle team records into the equation, and Wade’s case grows stronger. The Cavaliers are back on track to win 55-plus games thanks to their recent streak. Most of the league’s other elite squads don’t have an option that rivals Wade’s current performance. Eric Gordon’s efficiency has plummeted over the Houston Rockets’ past seven to 10 games or so; the Golden State Warriors don’t have any one reserve they’re relying on more than most; ditto for the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors; and Marcus Smart isn’t winning it for the Boston Celtics.
Certain other should-be favorites on more inferior squads, meanwhile, are being thrust into starter roles—namely Tyreke Evans with the Memphis Grizzlies and Lou Williams with the Los Angeles Clippers. So Wade, somewhat surprisingly, does belong in the discussion—though, to be fair, Will Barton and Jordan Clarkson would like a word with LeBron about this “No. 1 candidate” business.