Ten Things to Like About…Dion Waiters

October 15th, 2012 by Kevin Hetrick

As Dion Waiters rapidly approaches “most-overanalyzed” status in Cleveland, this article will stay brief.  Obviously, appreciation runs deep at Cavs: the Blog, where Dion fervor already reached religious proportions. For a sampling of why:

Daaaaaang! (The future Mrs. Waiters must have just walked by)

  1. Ranking tenth in usage and offensive rating, he arguably performed as the Big East’s most efficient offensive player in 2011 – 2012.  Of the nine players above him in O-rating, Kevin Jones used the next highest number of possessions, but behind a reasonable gap (25.6 per 100 team possessions for Waiters vs 23.1 for Jones).  Of the group using more possessions, only Maalik Wayns approached D-Wait for offensive rating, although at 116 versus 110, it was not that close.  So, I could straight-faced-debate his status as the best offensive player in the nation’s best conference.
  2. On defense, the difference between Waiters compared to his fellow Syracuse guards can “be regarded as immense”. A primary strength included finishing thirteenth in the entire NCAA for steal percentage.  Once he learns man-to-man, his strength & aggressiveness portend solid NBA performance, too.
  3. Of eighteen drafted NCAA guards last year, he ranked 3rd in PER.   He was one year and eighteen months younger than the higher-rated players, and also battled a more onerous schedule.
  4. Who thinks Dion Waiters rates as a better bucket-getter than Brad Beal, Austin Rivers, Thomas Robinson and Cody Zeller?  Apparently Ohio State’s coaching staff, who described him thus: “by far the best scorer we’ve faced this year”.
  5. With everything outlined above; no wonder why John Hollinger placed Waiters at fourth overall in his 2012 Draft Rater and projected him as the “best small wing since Dwyane Wade”.
  6. Ok, enough.  Everyone gets it.  Advanced stats love Dion Waiters.  That horse has been pummeled.  How about sick dunks?  Maybe between-the-legs or a windmill-off-the-bounce?.  If you reacted, “he bulked up too much since his high school days”; what about a video of the same dunk during warm-ups at the Sweet Sixteen this March?
  7. Unfortunately in games, the dunks include no tricks, but do sometimes involve pairs of posterized big men.
  8. He brings swagger and is discussing ROY and the playoffs. Despite long odds; I appreciate the confidence.
  9. And it is not like tough situations restrained Waiters before.  As described by Dime Magazine: Waiters’ rep grew as a Philly street-ball legend, whose mom is “(his) backbone throughout (his) entire life”, and with a “strict disciplinarian” father; he defeated all obstacles and made it out of a tough neighborhood.
  10. I do not want to overvalue pre-season games, but in Cleveland’s two victories, Dion took the mantle of crunch-time-king.  Between 4:41 and 1:55 to go in the fourth quarter of his first game, he tallied seven points and one assist to stretch a four-point lead to nine.  In the final stanza of his third professional tilt, he scored ten points and threaded two assists while Cleveland stretched a two point lead to ten.  Certainly, the waning minutes of pre-season affairs lack top-line talent, but each of the guys on the court are battling for a roster or rotation spot, and D-Wait managed to separate himself from the pack.

In summary, I am on the Dion Waiters bandwagon.  As a Cavs fan, I do not know why I would not be. (Also, I will be at the Cavs – Magic game tonight.  Follow me on twitter @hetrick46 for in-game thoughts.)