Based on data available at hoopdata.com, through November 12 games, there are 62 shooting guards averaging ten or more minutes per game. Of those, Dion:
- Takes the thirteenth most shots at the rim per forty minutes (4.5). Of all shooting guards who have made more than one such shot, he has been assisted on the fourth lowest percentage. He gets the ball to the basket. Unfortunately though, he converts a poor 50%, approximately 15% below NBA average this season. Kyrie struggled similarly early last season, and that turned out allright, so hopefully this tide also shifts for Waiters.
- He jacks the nineteenth highest number of long-twos per forty (4.3), while nailing a robust 48%. This is 10% higher than current league average for SGs. These are the least efficient shots in the game, and ideally Dion learns this and quits showing a propensity for them.
- From three, he hoists frequently (6.5 per 40, 19th for SGs), and makes them at a ridiculous rate of 53%.
- He is only shooting 0.18 free throws per field goal attempt. This is below average for a shooting guard. His foul shooting of 60% sits well under the 75% from his two collegiate seasons.
Clearly the shooting from deep is unsustainable, but if everything else also ‘normalizes’, how does his production look for the first seven games? Well…
- For a guy attacking the basket reasonably often, I will assume his ability to draw fouls eventually regresses to the league-mean. If he also drained three-quarters of his freebies; that adds six points through his first seven games.
- If his shooting at the rim was only slightly below league average for an SG (59% compared to 65%), he makes two more field goals. So, four more points.
- If his shooting on long twos reduced to 43% (compared to 38% average), he only loses one bucket over the first two weeks.
- The huge aberration is the three point shooting. If his shooting from deep approached his collegiate level of 37%, he makes five less to date, or a 15-point reduction.
By subtracting seven total points and adding five more free throw attempts to his current seasonal output; his true shooting calculates as 54.4% – exactly league average for a shooting guard. That would rank 23rd of the 62 players, while using a relatively high distribution of possessions (19th most).
For what it’s worth, this occurred against a tough schedule. The defensive ratings of the Cavs opponents to date are: 2nd, 5th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 16th, and 26th. The team already braved a west-coast road trip, yet maintains a non-horrid offense (20th of 30 teams). Softer defenses should be forthcoming.
Overall, it is very reasonable to expect Dion to regress, but if he finishes with league average true shooting, high-usage, and an assist-to-turnover ratio above one; I will be thrilled. Performance to that degree from a pair of 20-year-old guards exceeds all expectations.
I do hope Waiters takes his conditioning seriously, hires a nutritionist, etc. A sleek Dion, moving a split-second faster and jumping a hair higher would be awesome. Work on this, young man. Your body is your temple, and if you do this right, a long NBA career, two max-contracts, etc, can be yours.
(Also, see my Part 1 article below on the Cleveland bench.)