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Amico: Cavs should try Wade in reserve

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It will be a season-long project for Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue.

The mission: Find enough minutes for everyone capable of contributing at a championship level.

The chance for extra credit: Make sure all the potential lineups are cohesive.

There are a lot of new faces and a lot of different dynamics, which is sure to keep Lue experimenting -- both in practice, in the preseason, and perhaps all the way until June.

But it all starts with Dwyane Wade.

Thanks to Wade, Lue likely has a pretty good idea of who's starting at every position -- except for shooting guard.

It will be LeBron James at small forward, Kevin Love at power forward, Tristan Thompson at center, and Derrick Rose at point guard (at least until Isaiah Thomas gets healthy).

Starting shooting guard? Well, that's another matter.

Even at the age of 35, Wade is still a more talented all-around player than J.R. Smith, the holdover from last season. But when it comes to perimeter shooting, the hot-and-cold Smith has the advantage, and it's not really even close.

Wade is still intelligent and athletic enough to get to the basket, draw fouls, finish. He is still plenty masterful in the low post. He can still slash, he can still pass, he can still find ways to score.

He just can't hit 3-pointers -- at least, not at the same rate as Smith. Forget percentages, opposing teams just won't fear Wade as much as Smith from behind the arc.

That means they'll be more apt to pack it in, and dare the Cavs to fire away.

Smith may miss his first 10 threes, but everyone knows he's capable of making the next seven. If Wade misses 10, well, he very well could miss the next 10, too.

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Now, that's not to say Wade, Smith or anyone is going to shoot 20 threes in a game. It's an exaggeration to make a point. But you get the idea.


Perhaps making matters worse for the Cavs' backcourt is Rose can't make threes, either. He rarely shoots them, and when he does, the rim tends to cringe with fear.

This isn't intended to insult either Rose or Wade. The game was played without the modern-day reliance on 3-pointers for a long time. And there is something to be said for guards who are experts at scoring at the rim -- and both Wade and Rose are indeed experts in that area.

But we all know how many threes the Cavs have taken, and made, in this era of James, Love and Lue, and formerly, Kyrie Irving, too.

This is why Lue and the Cavs may be contemplating bringing Wade off the bench. (Perhaps even as a backup point guard behind Rose.)

Plus, imagine a player with Wade's skills getting to play against second units. In 60 games with the Chicago Bulls last season, Wade averaged 18.3 points as a starter. He also collected 4.5 rebounds and passed for 3.8 assists.

So he's still a starting-caliber player. Same goes for Smith.

But they add different elements, and while Wade is the better player, Smith may be a better fit next to the Cavs' other four starters.

And Lue may ultimately decide Wade is a better fit next to the subs.

There's no shame in putting either player in reserve -- and remember, whoever starts may not finish.

That is why Lue, Wade, Smith, or anyone needs to fret if Wade's best role is that of a reserve.

Based on all of the above, that very well could be the case, and the Cavs very well may see how Wade fares in that role from the start.

Sam Amico is editor and senior writer of Amico Hoops. Follow him on twitter @AmicoHoops.