Ten games into the season, Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Dion Waiters is proving all of the doubters wrong.
The Cavs drafted Waiters as the fourth overall pick out of Syracuse in the 2012 NBA draft, despite the fact that he did not start at Syracuse and despite the fact that most draft “experts” did not have him being selected that high.
“If he can’t start in college, what makes Cleveland think he can start in the NBA?” some people asked.
Others questioned if he could defend well enough, or simply be consistent enough to not only be a starter, but to be worthy of the fourth overall pick. Many thought he was a reach, and that the Cavs should have taken another player, such as Harrison Barnes or Thomas Robinson instead, or that the Cavs should have traded down to take Waiters later in the draft.
Several mock draft had Waiters going far down in the middle of the first round, and many of the post-draft grades marked the Cavs down for “reaching” to take Waiters at the spot that they did.
Now it’s true that you should usually wait a few years before you can truly grade how a team did in the draft, and 10 games into the season is not very much to go on, but so far Waiters looks like a great pick.
The 6-4 guard is scoring 13.7 points per game early in his career. He is only shooting 39 percent from the field, but on a positive note he is knocking down 43 percent of his three-point shots. His overall shot percentage could be low in part because he has been driving a lot and sometimes forcing his shots when he gets to the rim.
As he gains more NBA experience, he will get better at scoring around the rim and that shooting percentage likely will go up.
His best scoring game so far was when he poured in 28 points in the Cavs road win over the Los Angeles Clippers, shooting 10 for 17 in that game.
Currently, he has the third-highest scoring average of any NBA rookie and is trailing only Damian Lillard, who is scoring 19 points per game, and Anthony Davis, who is knocking down 16 points per game. He is among the rookie leaders in three-point shooting and steals, and is doing very well in other statistical categories.
He has also started every game of the season so far, and has formed a dynamic backcourt with guard Kyrie Irving.
Of course, the Cavs are not winning yet, and that is the biggest stat for any NBA team. But Waiters is not the reason the Cavs are just 2-8 so far. In fact, he has been helping the Cavs stay in games.
The Cavs have had chances to win most of their games, and they are going to start winning more as the season goes on. Young teams lose a lot of close games, and that’s what the Cavs are doing right now.
But Head Coach Byron Scott and the Cleveland management have to be happy so far with the play of Waiters.
If Barnes, Robinson or any other rookie drafted behind Waiters were on the Cavs, the team would not be winning any more games. Waiters is helping the team, and it looks like he is fitting in perfectly.
The jury is still out on him, but so far the bench player from Syracuse looks like he will be a starter for the Cavs for a long time.