Dion Waiters: Destined To Be A Career 6th Man?

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Thursday, March 13, 2014 with No comments
Written By Clevis Murray 

The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Dion Waiters with the 4th pick in the 2012 NBA draft.  The franchise hoped that they had found their shooting guard of the future by pairing him up with the Rookie of the Year and the 1st overall pick of the 2011 draft Kyrie Irving. Dion Waiters being drafted so high in the 2012 NBA draft was a bit of a surprise since he only played 71 career games at Syracuse University under Jim Boeheim and never started however he was considered the best sixth man in college basketball, being named the Big East's sixth man of the year. During his rookie season in the NBA (2012-13) Waiters came off of the bench 13 times in the 61 games he played.  Due to the averages in his rookie campaign 14.7 points, 3 rebounds and 2.4 assists he became known as a scorer......nothing more and nothing less.

As Dion Waiters second NBA season began many believed he was poised for a breakout but new Head Coach Mike Brown wanted to try something different and put Waiters on the bench stating that "The one thing Dion gives us is a nice punch off the bench with the ability to play pick and roll and create shots not only for himself, but for his teammates." With the statement being said former 6th Men of the Year James Harden, Manu Ginobili, J.R. Smith and Jamal Crawford all come to mind.  All four had previously ran the pick and roll the most when coming off the bench and were obviously the best at creating their own when coming off the bench with the exception of James Harden who is now a starter with Houston.  For the most part, the players are combo guards who can handle the ball and can get their teammates involved.

Thus far this season Waiters has played his best when coming off the bench rather than starting.  One can say that he has to a point been hindered by teammates.  During his brief stint with the Cavaliers, center Andrew Bynum would demand the ball in the post. Kyrie Irving is known for dominating the ball as well which limits the amount of possessions that Waiters can potentially have.  The situation reportedly grew toxic and there were rumors of fighting.  Waiters reportedly wanted to be traded to the Philadelphia 76ers "because he thinks he'd be the best player on the team." Andrew Bynum was suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team" and eventually traded to and released by the Bulls.

Waiters is putting up season averages which make him look like a role player but scoring and shooting like a 6th man.  He is averaging 13.5 shot attempts per game, 14.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.7 rebounds along with 41% FG & 38% from the 3-point line. Comparing his sophomore season to his rookie season shows that there is no improvement at all and he is basically the same player and doesn't follow the motto "Getting better over the summer." But to be fair he is a young player in his 2nd season and will most likely get better over time especially on defense as Mike Brown recently said "defensively he has the capabilities of being a great defender. He’s in the process of learning and growing on that end."

A Bad Reflection?

Dion Waiters has been compared to many players for example Dwyane Wade but he doesn't have the size Wade had when he was younger but does have similar quickness and is truly skilled when heading to the basket but one would be wise not to compare Waiters to a future Basketball Hall of Famers like Wade.  A more accurate comparison for Dion Waiters is Vinnie "The Microwave" Johnson or to keep it more current it would be Rodney Stuckey but the most accurate comparison at this time would be J.R. Smith.  The career path of Dion Waiters is becoming very similar to Smith's.  Despite Waiters career still being young, it's still growing similar to Smith's. The perception of Waiters is that he takes bad shots but that’s not the reality, Waiters doesn’t take bad shots but his low shooting percentage is what fuels the perception.

Both J.R. Smith & Dion Waiters have are both two immature NBA players with tons of talent. Remember when people thought J.R. Smith was a future All-Star when he was with the Denver Nuggets but all that changed when he didn't develop, listen and had too many off the court problems which have led to suspensions and hefty fines. His coach Mike Woodson recently said "[He] has got to grow up and do the right things." J.R doesn't listen and was recently fined $50K for untying shoes and his value around the league is continuing to decrease.

In similar fashion to Smith, Waiters usually starts sulking on the court and on the bench when things don't go his way and like Smith he thinks people are after him and nobody is on his side.Waiters has also gotten into an argument with Cavs guard Kyrie Irving and Head Coach Mike Brown. Waiters defensive effort decreases whenever he's not effective on the offensive end displaying his immaturity and like Smith, his teammates can't deal with it on and off the court but thankfully he isn't as immature as Smith off the court with the smoking of marijuana and uncalled for antics.

Dion will hopefully mature as a player and more importantly a person and exceed the expectations that were placed onto him but as of now he's a future sixth man who makes some bad decisions and his teammates are starting to grow tired of it.  There's usually a growth period of about five NBA seasons to see how a player develops as they should have carved out their niche by then, but let's see if Dion Waiters is really a future sixth man. With the way Dion is progressing he is showcasing a limited work ethic but for a young player with a huge upside and it shall be interesting to see how things will turnout down the line.

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