NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 23: Dion Waiters #3 of the Syracuse Orange reacts against Virginia Tech Hokies during the 2011 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden on November 23, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
While reading the comments on several of our recent draft-related articles, I've come across several arguments that attempt to detract from the Cavaliers' drafting of Dion Waiters. What I hope to accomplish in this article is to refute these arguments, thereby alleviating anyone of their doubts about the Cavs' front office. While this goal may not be entirely realistic, at the very least I hope to at least plant another seed of doubt in the doubter's mind. A seed that doubts the very doubts they have about Waiters.
First things first, I'm going to need anyone who isn't already on board with the Cavs' draft to take a deep breath and sit down because what I'm about to tell you may be a shock.
Are you ready?
The draft is done. There's no going back. No changing the course of events that unfolded on that fateful night. The first step to fully enjoying what this Cavs team will be is to accept that what is done is done and to at least make an attempt to get on board with the program, because honestly, what's your other option? Be eternally bitter? Quit being a a fan? I would hope both of those options sound pretty poor to you, because they certainly do to me.
But if you're sitting there thinking, "I don't want to be upset, but I just can't fight the feeling that the Cavs made a mistake," then you should continue reading, because hopefully I can change your mind. Actually, you should keep reading regardless, because that would be kinda weird if you just stopped reading the article halfway through.
Anyways, on to the convincing!
First I would like to address the notion that we reached for Waiters. There is no way in hell anyone can tell me they knew for sure that Harrison Barnes or Thomas Robinson was a definitively better prospect than Waiters. For instance, if we take a look at Hollinger's draft rater, Waiters posted one of the best marks for a wing..... ever. Would you like to know his closest comparison? Dwyane Wade. Huh, that's funny, because it just so happens that the one player everyone who watches him comes away comparing him to is..... you guessed it: Dwayne Wade. Yes, Thomas Robinson is rated higher than Waiters, but it's only one point, and Hollinger's rater has a much higher rate of failure with high-rated big men than high-rated wings. And if you need any more convincing, just remember that Russell Westbrook and James Harden were both considered reaches when they were taken. I don't think anyone in Oklahoma City is complaining about that right now.
Now for Dion's fit with the team. He said on draft night that he doesn't think he has any weaknesses to his game, and while at first I balked at the statement, I'm having a hard time disproving him. We know he's a bull-dog getting to the basket, where he finishes very well. But what many people don't realize is that his outside shot is actually pretty good. He shot 45.2% from 17 ft. to the 3-pt. line, with a 0.82 PPP on his shooting off the dribble. This isn't spectacular, but it's solid, and as an added bonus his shots off the dribble only accounted for 28.1% of his total jump shots. This means that the rest of his shots were spot-up jumpers, where he shoots 47.5%, good for 1.01 PPP, which the folks over at Draft Express call "very good." And of course I would be remiss were I not to mention his ridiculous 68.7% in transition, which is where 26.7% of his offensive plays came from. This fits perfectly with Byron Scott's desire to be a running team.
The more I look at this kid, the more I fall in love with him. He does everything the Cavs want out of their SG, from shooting to slashing to finishing in transition. And as an added bonus he's a tenacious defender who averaged 3 steals per 40 minutes last year. And if you're concerned about a potential bust, don't be. From my perspective, the reason busts happen is because they get complacent. This kid wants to be the best, and he's a gym-rat to a fault, sometimes staying in the gym until 2 a.m. after working out 4 times in a single day. He has an insatiable desire to be the best that he can be, and add that to his prior relationship with Kyrie Irving, even going so far as to call him his "brother" and we will have a dominant backcourt for years to come.
I hope you folks are ready, because starting this year we're all about to get served....