Now in his second year, Dion Waiters, the 6’4 guard out of Syracuse was the fourth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and he had an up and down season during his rookie campaign.
Waiters, who played for two seasons at Syracuse, famously came off of the bench for much of his collegiate career. Even off the bench, though, he still was an All-Big East player and was even named the Big East Sixth Man of the Year in 2012.
During his first year in the NBA, Waiters started much of the season for the Cavaliers was named to the All-Rookie 1st Team and NBA Rookie of the Month in February.
As a rookie, Waiters scored 14.7 points per game and dished out 3 assists per game. He shot 41 percent from the field but just 31 percent from the three-point line. He had some outstanding games where he took good shots and helped the Cavs offense tremendously, but he also had some poor shooting nights where he took bad outside shots and off-balance shots in the key. Basically, he played like a rookie.
To be fair to Waiters, he also played for a Cavs team that on many nights did not have many scoring options when Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao were both injured. The lineup was not very strong for part of the season, so Waiters probably felt a lot of pressure to score and likely took some bad shots.
For his second year in the league, the Cavs are much more talented at the guard position and throughout the lineup. Waiters needs to learn how to get points in the flow of the offense, whether that is setting up for catch and shoot jump shots or driving through the lane and attacking the defense.
Waiters has the skill to be a very good offensive players, it’s just a matter of knowing the difference between good and bad shots in the NBA and knowing when to attack. With improved play in the post this season, too. Waiters should have more room to work on the perimeter to get open shots.
Like much of the team, Waiters also has to become a better defensive player, which is where Head Coach Mike Brown should help. Waiters needs to be able to shut down opposing players late in the game, and he did not prove during his rookie season that he can do that.
He has size and speed, and his defense should continue to improve as he continues to play.
Irving is the star of the team, and Varejao and Andrew Bynum are two of the best big men in the game when they are healthy. Waiters does not have to be “the man” for the Cavs, he just has to be a solid scorer and supporting cast member.
If he can improve his shooting percentage, dish out a few more assists and keep working on his defense this season, he will be on his way to being a solid player and being part of one of the best backcourts in the NBA.