In a recent interview with HoopsWorld, Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters had some strong words for the rest of the NBA. In the interview, Waiters repeatedly warned the rest of the league that he is “coming” this season, talked about how he will prove his doubters wrong, and talked about the great two-guards of this generation paving the way for him.
However, the boldest proclamation that Waiters made was saying that he believes that he is going to be the best shooting guard in the league, even saying that he felt like he was “next up” in terms of two-guards in the league. For a player entering his second NBA season, those are some pretty strong words.
There’s no way to see what the future holds in any case, including Waiters; for all I know, he could eventually be the best in the NBA. What is clear as he heads into his sophomore season in the Association is that he has a long way to go before that is the case.
Waiters played 61 games for the Cavs in his rookie year. He averaged 14.7 points, three assists and 2.4 rebounds in 28.8 minutes per game while shooting only 41.2 percent from the floor and just 31 percent from three. However, Waiters did show improvement as the year went on, particularly in regards to his efficiency.
In November, Waiters averaged 15.3 points per game, but shot only 36.9 percent from the floor, leading up to him shooting only 34.2 percent from the field in eight games in December. Waiters then raise that number to 41.9 percent shooting in January and then all the way up to 51.4 percent in February before declining again in an injury-riddled March and April.
Offensively, Waiters has a good bit of promise. Though he ranked just 309th overall last season in terms of points per possession, there were some bright spots in his game. Waiters was solid as the pick-and-roll ball-handler, averaged 0.78 points per possession, the 80th best rate in the league. Waiters also showed good results in spot-up situations, averaging 1.07 points per possession and shooting a surprising 41.6 percent from three in those situations.
If Waiters can learn to play to his strengths and further develop some of the weaker aspects of his offensive game as he goes forward, there’s no reason to believe he can’t be an effective backcourt mate to Kyrie Irving. However, the issue with considering Waiters as a potential top shooting guard in the league, as of right now at least, lies with his defensive numbers.
Waiters was abysmal defensively last season. He ranked near the very bottom of the league at 446th in terms of points per possession, allowing 1.06. He also struggled in almost any set thrown at him, not showing many positive signs for the future.
Waiters is an alright athlete that could be a decent defender if he begins to get a better feel for the instincts and rotations in the NBA, but he showed that there is a lot of improvement needed for that to happen.
The Cavaliers are going to be a much better team heading into the 2013-2014 NBA season and any improvement that Waiters can make will help that effort. However, he’s going to have to show improvement over the next couple of seasons on both ends of the floor if he wants to live up to his expectations. If he doesn’t, he could still be a solid player, but best shooting guard in the league will be out of the question.
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