With training camp underway, the sight of a fully healed Kyrie Irving and slimmer Dion Waiters has led many to think that both players may give the Cleveland Cavaliers the best young backcourt in the NBA.
Irving, who averaged 18.5 points and would win the 2011-12 NBA Rookie Of The Year award, is fully healed from a hand injury that would cause him to miss 6-8 weeks during the offseason. The former Duke Blue Devil added five pounds of muscle to his 6’3 191-pound frame.
Waiters, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft out of Syracuse, would show up overweight during the Cavs Summer League, and be the subject of much consternation.
The 6’4 215-pound Waiters would show up for Media Day an estimated eight to ten pounds lighter and look much more like the slashing combo guard first envisioned by both head coach Byron Scott and Cavs general manager Chris Grant.
With Irving and Waiters both healthy and in shape, once can easily assume that
they will both be paired together in the pre-season to see how they would both play off of each other.
While Irving will counted on to be more of a vocal leader in his second year in facilitating Cleveland’s offense, the brash and aggressive Waiters figures to be the wildcard in the Cavs backcourt.
The former product of South Philadelphia’s rough-and-tumble playgrounds, Waiters would hone his craft at Life Center Academy in neighboring Burlington, New Jersey.
Due to his ability to drive to the basket and score at will, Waiters has drawn comparisons ranging from Monte Ellis to two-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade.
While those comparisons are just a ceiling of what Waiters could aspire to, he could end up being the Cleveland’s version of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s James Harden instead.
Much like his role at Syracuse, Waiters’ best role in Cleveland may be as the sixth man a la “The Beard” down in Oklahoma City as a change-of-pace, high energy guy that can lead the second unit.
Depending on what happens in pre-season and how well newly-acquired swingman C.J. Miles assimilates into Byron Scott’s up-tempo offense, the thought of a Irving-Waiters backcourt in Cleveland should send proverbial shivers to all teams in the Eastern Conference.
In Irving, the Cavs have a player who can dribble, drive to the hoop and is deadly from three-point range. In Waiters, Cleveland has a fearless “bulldog” that can attack the rim, slash, and in addition to being athletic, Waiters has amazing Wade-like body control in driving the lane.
While other contenders in the East have formidable backcourt duos such as Ellis and Brandon Jennings for the Milwaukee Bucks, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson for the Brooklyn Nets and the Toronto Raptors have Kyle Lowry and Terrance Ross, Cleveland may have the most explosive backcourt in the East—if not the NBA.
Due to the injuries to John Wall and Derrick Rose, the Cavaliers have an excellent opportunity to make a move in the East, and with the potential explosiveness of Waiters and Irving, don’t be too surprised to see the Wine and Gold in the thick of things in 2012-13.
Robert D. Cobb is the NBA Network Manager for Rant Media Network, Featured Writer of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Featured Columnist for the Cleveland Browns and Arsenal Gunners.
In addition to covering the NBA, I also cover MLB, NFL, NHL and Champions League soccer news, rumors and opinions, please follow me on Twitter at @RobertCobb_76