Waiters' explosion in the R/S game is likely to draw some extra atention to him during the second half of the season. Some casual observers will have undoubtably been surprised given his sub par stats throughout his career. The story line on Dion is that he is below average and with improvement he could be average, I guess, but he is a head case, bad in the locker room, doesn't get a long with Kyrie, yadda, yadda, yadda.
The truth about Dion is that he is rarely mediocre. He is sometimes very good, to often flat out terrible but not very often is he a modest contributor to the Cavs' effort. To highlight this let me introduce PABST. Pabst is a cheap and easy way to quantify a player's impact on the game, like its namesake it has little real substance, but it takes no effort and gives you a little of what you are looking for. PABST is
(Points+Assists+Blocks+Steals+Total rebounds) - (turnovers+field goal attempts).
Obviously you could drive a truck through the holes in this as a comprehensive stat, but it has enough to it to give an idea of how a game went for a player overall. The higher the score the better the game, and scores can, and in Dion's case do, go negative.
In 48 games this season exactly 1/4 of Dion's action has lead to a zero or negative score, and funnily enough, exactly 1/4 of his games have a double digit score. Ain't symmetry pretty? Dion's average score in PABST is 5.5, but he has only 2 each of 4s, 5s, and 6s. This matches what we see on the court, Dion simply doesn't have many "average" games. He has his Bull in a China Shop games where he gets to the rack at will, splashes some jumpers and hands out a few nice opportunities for his teammates because you gotta keep the peasants happy, right? Then we have infuriating Dion, missing his jumper, turning it over as he drives, and eventually just disappearing from the game altogether.
Dion's supporters will point to the last few games before the All-Star break of being indicative of Waiters turning the corner. His 18, 24 and 20 pt efforts rated 8, 10 and 11 on the Pabst score, but they were sandwiched by -2, -2 and 3 by that metric.
Where is the happy medium Dion? Does he not exist? Is Waiters a bi polar player, where shots at the hoop feel like tossing pebbles into the ocean one week, and like threading a needle while careening off the road the next? Doesn't Dion's season as a whole mirror the Cavs as a team? Moments of brilliance overshadowed by ineptitude and near hopelessness.
Dion has two paths to greatness before him now. He can fight to lock in more frequently, putting up more high quality games while still laying eggs on a regular basis, or he can try to focus when he is missing, to contribute when he can't waltz into the lane and lay it in. Can he take one of those paths in the second half of the season or will we remain bystanders to the Waiters roller coaster?
Usually when I look at a player I at least have a sense of what is going to happen, a leaning or an inkling, or some trend to latch on to, but with Dion it is lurching back and forth with no real trend. A great couple of games turns into a pair of stinkers with no in between.