NBA

Dwyane Wade.

LeBron James says Dwyane Wade is "the number one candidate" for Sixth Man of the Year

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When the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Dwyane Wade following his buyout from the Chicago Bulls in the summer, head coach Tyronn Lue made the controversial decision to insert him into the starting lineup. 

This was, of course, at the expense of J.R. Smith and it's fair to say he didn't take the news well as he admitted he was "frustrated" by Lue's decision. 

But with the Cavs making a horrible start to the campaign, Wade made the selfless decision to come off the bench and instructed Lue to go with Smith as the starting shooting guard and allow him to lead the second unit. 

Since that change was made, the Cavaliers have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes and it's in large part due to the performances of the veteran as a reserve. 

The franchise is currently on an 11-game winning streak and has arguably one of the best benches in the entire league led by the former Miami Heat star. 

With the team shorthanded at the point guard position, the 12-time All-Star has also been filling in as the backup to veteran Jose Calderon and has been in great form during the winning run.

Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers

He's averaging 13.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, four assists, 1.4 steals, and a block in 24.6 minutes off the bench during the streak.

These performances have led to his teammate LeBron James declaring him as the early favorite for the Sixth Man of the Year award. 

"He's probably the number one candidate," James told ESPN's Nick Friedell. "Not even being biased, that's one of my best friends. Just looking at the teams."

Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Wade, however, is just one of a number of players who are enjoying strong campaigns as sixth men. The likes of Rodney Hood, Tyreke Evans, Lou Williams are averaging 17 or more points off the benches with their respective teams. 

Jonathon Simmons and Julius Randle have provided strong production on both ends of the floor for the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers respectively. There are also a handful of worthy candidates on the Toronto Raptors, who have the league's best bench statistically.

But Cleveland will be delighted with the way Wade is playing and how he has reinvented himself this year. 

Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons

The three-time champion has been the catalyst for their improved form and they once again look like a formidable force in the east. 

With the 36-year-old playing at this level and Isaiah Thomas soon to come back, the Wine and Gold should be taken seriously and are still the team to beat in the conference they've dominated for three straight years.

Topics:
NBA
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
Dwyane Wade
Miami Heat
Southeast Division

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