When LeBron James decided to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers, much was said about the newly formed duo of Kyrie Irving and James. Although Irving will surely take some of the offensive burden off of James, Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters may be just as useful in assisting James offensively. By looking at catch and shoot percentages from the 2013-14 NBA season, it is easily observable that playing alongside Waiters may be just as appealing to James as teaming up with Irving.
Last season, Waiters shot 41.9 percent in all catch-and-shoot situations. For players who tallied more than three catch-and-shoot attempts per game and appeared in at least 60 games, Waiters finished in the 63rd percentile overall. From deep, he shot 41.6 percent in catch-and-shoot situations. With players who qualified, Waiters ranks above 73 percent of the league. Although Waiters is considered to be a player who shoots much better in pull-up situations off of the dribble, he clearly had a strong season spotting up from various spots on the court.
On the other hand, Irving was dreadful in catch-and-shoot situations last year. He shot 35.6 percent in total catch-and-shoot situations, better than only 13 percent of the NBA players who qualified. From behind the arc in these situations, Irving shot only 32.1 percent, good for only the 19th percentile in the league.
If we compare the two teammates’ production level last season, Waiters shot 6.3 percent better than Irving in catch-and-shoot situations last year. This is an extremely large number when looking at all of the qualifying players and the spread of the data. Even more shocking is the difference in catch-and-shoot situations from behind the arc, as Waiters outperformed Irving by 9.5 percent in that category.
It is important to note that one season is a small sample size. However, if these numbers do persist, Waiters will provide James with even more room to operate on offense than Irving. With the recent addition of Mike Miller and the possible signing of Ray Allen, James certainly wants players around him who can space the floor, and Waiters has gone under the radar as a player who can help achieve that goal.