Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters has had an up-and-down season to this point, due in part to knee and wrist issues that have caused him to miss a few games, and things may have reached a peak when he was reportedly kicked out of practice during the last week of January. He played a season-low 11 minutes in the game following the report surfacing and struggled in the subsequent game (six points, 3-for-11 from the floor), but after his performance Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies (18 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals) Waiters is averaging 21 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game over the last two games.
Waiters has not started a game since mid-November, but should fantasy basketball owners be optimistic about his value over the rest of the season?
The Cavaliers are in the bottom half of the league in scoring (96.5 points per game-23rd), but Waiters shoots enough (13.2 attempts per game) to sustain solid fantasy value based on his scoring output alone even without notable and consistent contributions in other categories (2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game this season). Leaving aside those two poor games at the start of this month, Waiters has averaged 20.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his other five games since Jan. 28, with at least 13 shot attempts (15 or more three times) and seven made field goals in all five contests.
Waiters seems to be vastly under-owned right now (58 percent of Yahoo! leagues), and his role as Cleveland’s sixth-man and a primary offensive option should not go way as long as he can avoid injuries and keep himself in the good graces of head coach Mike Brown. With significant playing time available and a shot volume that should follow suit, Waiters can be a difference maker for fantasy owners that are willing to embrace his upside potential and can overlook any lingering downside.