Dean Wade Scouting Report

Dean Wade
Dean Wade (#32) has made more than 40 percent of his 3-point shots for three straight seasons at Kansas State. (Scott Weaver/K-State Athletics)

When I think of Dean Wade, the first word that comes to mind is understated.  He is quietly productive on the floor.  He is certainly not brash anywhere at any time.  And despite being one of the most productive players in the history of Kansas State basketball, not many NBA analysts are giving him strong consideration for this year’s draft.  The good news for Wade is that draft analysts are often wrong. 

With 123 games under his belt in his four years at Kansas State, Wade is the only Wildcat with at least 1,000 points, 100 3-pointers, 500 rebounds, 200 assists, and 100 steals.  He currently ranks 10th and 8th, respectively, on the school’s all-time list for points (1,470) and rebounds (667), and he will be adding to those totals, with the Wildcats having three regular-season games, the Big 12 Tournament, and the NCAA Tournament remaining on the schedule.  Wade’s strongest asset may be his shooting touch.  This season, he’s made 46.7 percent of his 3s and 80 percent of his free throws, both career highs, but other aspects of his game have suffered due to a series of foot injuries. 

To get a sense of what Wade can do, check out these highlights from our friends at Next Ones: 

Wade had seen action in every game of his K-State career (70 straight) until missing most of the final five games of last season due to a broken bone in his right foot.  He entered this season as the preseason selection for Big 12 Player of the Year, and the senior seemed to be on his way to having another terrific year before having back-to-back rough outings in early December vs. Tulsa and Marquette.  And then on December 15 vs. Georgia State, the injury bug bit again, as Wade went down a torn ligament in his left foot.  He would miss the next six games. 

Between mid-January and early February, Wade had five consecutive good outings, but after that, he didn’t appear to be right.  He left the February 16 matchup with Iowa State, with a right foot “soft-tissue” injury that he had been nursing for some time, and since then, he has been limited at practice and playing at less than 100 percent.  As Kellis Robinett, who thoroughly covers K-State athletics for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star, noted after the February 18 contest vs. West Virginia, “Wade was obviously hobbled. The forward didn’t attack the basket like he usually does and spent most of his time on the perimeter as a shooter.”

From a draft evaluator’s stand point, Wade’s string of foot injuries mean that an asterisk has to be placed next to this season.  Compared to 2017-18, Wade has experienced significant drops in a number of areas this season, including field-goal percentage (49.8), points per game (12.9), steals per game (.73), and blocks per game (.27).  He has not scored more than 12 points in his last seven games, and over that same span, he has shot 26-of-63 (41.3%) from the floor and recorded a total of just three steals and two blocks.  It is Robinett’s opinion that Wade will not be 100 percent for the rest of this season, and I am inclined to agree.  With that said, I will be discussing the 2017-18 Dean Wade as much as the Dean Wade that we have seen during this injury-marred season.

Position:  PF/C Team/Class: Kansas State (Sr.)
Birthday:  11/20/96 Nationality: United States
Height:  6-10 Weight: 228
Wingspan: 6-10 Vertical: 33″ standing, 36″ max
Dom Hand: Right Stats: Click here

Strengths

  • Efficient multi-level scorer (1.15 points per possession – 97th percentile and FG% of 55.0 in 2017-18)
  • Good shooting mechanics and reliable from deep (averaged better than 40% from 3-point line for three straight seasons)
  • Able to shoot off the bounce and with a hand in his face (90th percentile for PPP when shooting off the dribble in 2017-18)
  • Great vision and effective passer (averaged at least 2.7 assists and 1.9 assists per turnovers for last two seasons; in terms of assists and points per possession, he has ranked no worse than 86th percentile over the same span). 
  • Fundamentally sound and alert defensively (1.6 steals per game in 2017-18)
  • Gives good effort and team-first player

Weaknesses

  • Lacks great length, strength, and athleticism
  • Not overly physical
  • Not a great shot blocker or rebounder (less than .9 blocks and 6.3 rebounds per game in all four seasons)
  • Heavily favors going left when he puts the ball on the floor
  • Current foot injuries are significantly hampering his effectiveness

Offense

Wade is a very smooth, under-control stretch 4, who spends the majority of his time playing out of the high post.  He is not an exceptional athlete, but I would have said prior to his foot injuries that he was a much better one than he received credit for (more on this later).  He is definitely light on his feet, and he moves exceptionally well without the ball. He doesn’t have a lot of nifty dribble moves, but he can comfortably put the ball on the deck for more than just straight-line drives.  The senior is a very heady and reliable player, who stays within himself, and usually takes what the defense gives him. 

Wade is mainly a jump shooter, more so this season than last due to his injuries limiting his mobility.  He has an effortless and soft shot, with a high and relatively quick release, and his range extends past the NBA 3-point line.  On average, jumpers have accounted for nearly 45 percent of his shot attempts over the past two seasons, and he has been effective from all ranges.  Last season, he ranked at the 90th percentile or better in terms of points per possession (PPP) from 17’ and in, 17’ to the 3-point line, and beyond the 3-point line, and, this season, he ranks at the 97th percentile from beyond the arc.  In both of the last two seasons, he has ranked no worse than the 75th percentile in terms of PPP on both catch-and-shoot and pick-and-pop opportunities. 

Wade is far more than a catch-and-shoot big man – when healthy, he can score from anywhere on the floor.  He doesn’t take a lot of highly contested shots from deep, opting instead to drive on bigger, slower defenders.  By no means is he blistering off the bounce, but he has good footwork, and is crafty with his ball fakes, changes in speed, and counter moves.  He can score with pull-ups, stepbacks, and turnaround fadeaways (turning in either direction), and he can score with traditional post moves as well, including drop steps, up-and-unders, and jump hooks with either hand. Wade is especially adept at flashing into the post, and when defenses overplay him, he will respond by using his passing skills, consistently finding the open man. 

Over the past two seasons, the majority of Wade’s offensive possessions have been fairly evenly distributed between post-up (146), spot-up (129), cut (113), isolation (109), and pick-and-roll plays (93).  In both seasons, he ranked well above average in terms of PPP on post-up (94th percentile both seasons), spot-up, and pick-and-roll plays while he ranked significantly below average on cuts to the basket (34th percentile this season).  The one area where he was inconsistent was ISO plays (87th percentile last season and 29th this season), which, again, is likely due to his foot injuries, though opponents may have adjusted to the fact that Wade heavily favors driving to the left.   

Defense

According to Synergy’s numbers, Wade has been an above-average overall defender over the past two seasons, allowing less than .81 points per possession.  The one area where he consistently struggled was defending catch-and-shoot jumpers – he allowed an average 1.16 PPP, which put him in the bottom third among defenders for both seasons.

Wade is definitely engaged and aware on the defensive end of the court.  Last season, he excelled at jumping into the passing lanes for steals and deflections.  He is a solid team defender, generally helping, rotating, and stunting at the right time.   He also moves fairly well laterally, takes good angles, and forces his man to use his off hand, all of which prevent Wade from being regularly abused when defending in space and/or switching. 

On the downside, Wade lacks the length, strength, and vertical explosiveness (especially since the injuries) to consistently defend on the low block.  He typically defends in the post by denying and/or trying to strip the ball away, which does help him stay out of foul trouble, but also allows a lot of easy baskets.  His lack of athleticism and length can also be a problem vs. jump shooters.  Like most big men, Wade is not an in-your-face defender, guarding against the drive more than the shot, and he is regularly late and/or ineffective when contesting perimeter jumpers. 

Wade’s lack of size and physicality hurts him on the boards, as he is often pushed aside by stronger players.  His lack of length and vertical do not help matters.  He hustles and will chase down rebounds outside his area, but overall, rebounding is not a particular strength. 

Intangibles and Miscellaneous

If you closely follow K-State basketball, you have heard of the “bucket list.”  Wade and fellow seniors Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes made a preseason list of things that they wanted to accomplish this year, including beating Kansas, something that none of them had done in their first three seasons as Wildcats.  Winning the Big 12 Title was another goal, and while I never heard it mentioned, I can only assume that Wade and his teammates also have their sites on a Final Four appearance.  Last year, with basically the same squad, the Wildcats made it to the Elite Eight, and that was with Wade playing a total of only eight minutes in the tourney due to his broken right foot.

Wade has a reputation for being an unselfish player – sometimes to a fault.  At times, he literally passes on good shots, opting to share the ball with his teammates.  But now, the senior might be taking his team-first approach to a new level by playing injured. 

K-State is clearly a better team when Wade is on the court, injured or not.  Last year, he ranked fourth in the Big 12 for plus-minus at 11.5 (12th in NCAA DI), and this year, he ranks sixth in the conference at 9.9.  The desire to be there for his team is completely understandable, especially given that this is his final season and the Wildcats’ lofty goals are within reach.  At the same time, one can only hope that Wade is not hurting his chances at the next level by playing with an injury.

Summary

To my knowledge, no draft site has been higher on Wade than Hoops Prospects.  We had him ranked in the top 40 last year, and he’s in the top 60 this year.  He shares many similarities with more highly regarded players in this draft class, such as Jontay Porter and Killian Tillie.  Both Porter and Tillie have their advantages over Wade, but when healthy, the K-State senior is more mobile and diverse offensively in my opinion.  And therein lies the rub – his health. 

Throughout this report, I have theorized that Wade’s drop in terms of overall productivity and efficiency this season is due to a series of injuries, and I feel very confident in stating that for a number of reasons.  For example, he was very good scoring around the basket on non-post-up plays (putbacks and so on) last season, making 65 percent of his shots and ranking at the 83rd percentile, and this season, those numbers have dropped to 50 percent and 34th percentile.  Wade didn’t just forget how to make five-foot shots – he can’t get off the floor the same way he did last year.  The numbers also show how Wade’s health is affecting his tendencies to drive, run, and move.  Last year, he drove the ball to the basket nearly three times as much in ISO situations and roughly six times as much in spot-up situations.  In term of percentages of possessions this season, his transition opportunities have been cut nearly in half, and his rolls to the basket have been reduced by more than half.  And finally, if you still don’t believe me and have seen Wade play only this season, check out this video of his highlights from last season.  It is clear to me that he moved better and jumped higher in 2017-18. 

So now, the question becomes will we ever see the 2017-18 version of Wade again?  I would assume so, if he has enough time to heal.  His season will end by no later than early April, which would give him about six weeks before the NBA Combine.  Who knows if that’s enough time to heal?  Who knows if it will prevent him from even being invited?

Wade’s situation is not too unlike that of Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson from last year – both had highly productive college careers, both are winners and gamers, neither is/was given much respect by the draft experts, and both are/were dealing with a foot injury heading into the draft.  Colson was not drafted, but is now on a two-way contract with the Milwaukee Bucks and averaging nearly 16 points and 7 boards a night in the G-League.  While recognizing that they are two fairly different players, I believe that Wade has two key advantages over Colson:  1) Wade has a chance to heal before the draft, and 2) he’s a better all-around offensive player.  There is no doubt that Wade is suspect as a defender and rebounder, but in my opinion, his offensive skill set and his team-first mentality will earn him a spot in the second round if NBA doctors determine that his foot issues will not be long term.

Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements:  Stats used in our scouting reports mainly come from Synergy Sports and RealGM, and occasionally from Hoop-Math.com and Sports Reference.  Measurements, school statistics, and the photo were courtesy of Kansas State Athletics.  Special thanks to Tom Gilbert, Director for Men’s Basketball Communications at K-State Athletics, and Kellis Robinett from The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star for their patience and insight. 

About R. C. Harris 30 Articles
Richard has worked as sports writer/editor/analyst since 1998. He is the former CEO of FantasyFootballExperts.com, and he has contributed to various magazines, radio shows, and a number of other sites, including ESPN.com, SI.com, USAToday.com, and NBADraft.net.