— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) December 2, 2017
James swears he’s not biased in favor of his teammate and longtime friend—his analysis is based on Wade’s performance through 22 games.
Wade, 35, is coming off the bench for the first time in his Hall of Fame career, and putting up averages of 11.4 points, 3.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 23.5 minutes a night.
“He’s probably the No. 1 candidate,” James said at shootaround Saturday.
“Not even being biased, that’s one of my best friends,” James continued. “Just looking at the teams. Eric Gordon has had to start a lot this season because CP (Chris Paul) was out. (Andre) Iguodala’s been out a little bit, you look at Manu (Ginobili), you look at Jamal Crawford … those are sixth man guys, right? D-Wade would probably be leading that right now, but there’s a long way to go.”
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue has handed the reins of the second unit to Wade, and also uses Wade in the fourth quarter as a sometimes point guard, all the time playmaker alongside James.
“Team success is always up there with winning an award, that’s just my personal opinion,” James said. “Then the impact you make on that second lineup, or whatever lineup that you’re in. You have a lot of winners and you’ve seen why they’ve won. When J.R. [Smith] won it when he was in New York, Jamal Crawford and Eric Gordon, seeing the things that they did coming off the bench and doing the things they’ve done off the bench to help their team be successful.”