The Cleveland Cavaliers have built a nice team for the upcoming NBA season that could really make some noise in the Eastern Conference. In addition to budding star Kyrie Irving, the Cavs added Andrew Bynum, who can hopefully stay healthy, and a solid backup point guard in Jarrett Jack.
Cleveland has also added a ton of depth to go along with Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao. The Cavs brought in Earl Clark via free agency and had a productive draft that landed them Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev and Carrick Felix. All of these additions to their roster will be hugely beneficial to them next season, but the performance of sophomore guard Dion Waiters will likely determine how far this team goes.
Waiters played in 61 games in his rookie season and averaged 14.7 points, three assists and 2.4 rebounds per game, but shot just 41.2 percent from the field and 31 percent from three. If there was one thing Waiters really needed to work on this off-season, it was creating more efficient opportunities for himself on offense.
This week, Waiters is taking part in the Las Vegas NBA Summer League with the Cavs and has easily been the best player on the floor for Cleveland. Though he struggled in their first game on July 12, he has been quite good in the past two games. On Sunday he put up 23 points on 7-17 shooting and on Monday he put up 16 points on 5-16 shooting.
When Waiters has been at his best so far this week is when he’s going to the rim and attacking. Whenever he decides to settle for jumpers, though, his offensive game collapses. That is the same thing that was evident in his rookie season.
On 437 jump shots last season, Waiters shot just 30.9 percent. Meanwhile, he shot 65.1 percent on the 106 driving layups that he took last season. That’s not all encompassing of every shot that Waiters took last season, but it’s clearly indicative of the fact that he’s a better offensive player when he’s going at the rim and not settling for jumpers.
Waiters’ performance in Summer League thus far has only served to confirm the fact that Waiters needs to be more aggressive on offense in terms of attacking. Last season and this Summer League have shown that, if the Cavs want to maximize Waiters’ potential this season, they need to put him in situations where he can attack the rim and do the best they can to limit his ill-advised jump shots. If that can happen, Cleveland will indeed be in great shape to make things happen in the upcoming season.