About Dion Waiters (By A Syracuse Fan)

{Editor's note: Front Page'd}

Since the Cavs drafted Dion Waiters at #4 I've seen a lot of mixed reactions from Cavs fans. Some have concerns about his character, others about why he came off the bench, and others wonder how he could be considered a dominant scorer despite averaging only 12.6 per game. So I thought it might be helpful to address these issues since I've been following the Syracuse Orange as long as I can remember. But just to give you an idea how highly I regard him, he is the reason I am now a Cavaliers fan. The last player time I felt that strongly about a Syracuse player it was Carmelo Anthony in 2003. He may or may not become the scorer that Carmelo is, but I believe he can become a more complete player (since we all know Carmelo doesn't play defense...). More after the jump.

So, let's start with question #1: What happened between him and Boeheim in his first year at Syracuse?

Dion Waiters was regarded as the #2 SG prospect coming out of high school in 2010. As such, he expected to be a starter right away (For comparison, last year the #2 SG coming out of high school was Bradley Beal). Needless to say, that isn't the way it worked out. Jim Boeheim doesn't like to start freshman, especially if he has more experienced players on the roster. Also, Dion wasn't putting in a lot of effort on defense, which is the quickest way to get benched at Syracuse. He only got 16.3 mpg his first season, and so he considered transferring. But, instead of taking the easy way out, Dion decided to stick around, accept his role coming off the bench, and give his best effort in his sophomore season. In my opinion, that decision shows more about his character than the troubles he had in his freshman year. Also note that this situation is not uncommon at Syracuse. Last year Michael Carter-Williams (the #4 SG in his class behind Bradley Beal and Austin Rivers) received only 7.7 mpg due to the players in front of him. He didn't like it either, but Dion helped him to adjust his attitude, relating his experience during his freshman year.

Question #2: Why did he come off the bench?

Well, in a 3 guard rotation somebody has to start the game on the bench. Last year Scoop Jardine got 25.2 mpg, Dion got 24.1 mpg, and Brandon Triche got 22.7 mpg, so they all played the same amount. It is noteworthy, though, that Dion was always on the court at the end of close games, often being used as the PG over senior Scoop Jardine in those situations.

Question #3: How is he considered a dynamic scorer after averaging only 12.6 ppg?

Because he did it in only 24.1 minutes. If you convert that to points per 40 minutes, he scored 21.0 per 40. For comparison, 23.6 per 40 by John Jenkins is the highest on a team that won an NCAA tournament game. Also consider that he did this despite playing on a team that was 10 deep and had 6 different players score 19 pts or more in a game over the course of the season.

Question #4: How does he compare to the other elite prospects?

For this question, I am going to compare his numbers to the other #2 guards taken in the lottery: Bradley Beal, Terrence Ross, Austin Rivers, and Jeremy Lamb. All stats are based off of 40 minutes.


FG attempts per 40: Waiters = 16.03 / Beal = 12.41 / Ross = 17.28 / Rivers = 14.24 / Lamb = 14.34 [ Took the initiative more than most, but not quite the ball hog that Ross was ;-) ]

Percentage of FGA that were 2 pointers: Waiters = 68.3% / Beal = 52.7% / Ross = 58.7% / Rivers = 60.4% / Lamb = 53.5% [ As you can see, he drives much more often than the others ]

2 point FG%: Waiters = 52.9% / Beal = 54.1% / Ross = 51.8% / Rivers = 47.7% / Lamb = 60.1% [ Still very efficient despite shooting more 2 pointers than any of the others ]

3 point FG%: Waiters = 36.3% / Beal = 33.9% / Ross = 37.1% / Rivers = 36.5% / Lamb = 33.6% [ Although he didn't attempt as many 3 pointers as the others, he was efficient when he did shoot them ]

Free Throw %: Waiters = 72.9% / Beal = 76.9% / Ross = 77.4% / Rivers = 65.8% / Lamb = 81.0% [ Solid but unspectacular ]

FTAs per 40: Waiters = 5.30 / Beal = 5.46 / Ross = 3.42 / Rivers = 6.52 / Lamb = 3.82 [ Rivers excelled here, but Waiters & Beal were both very solid ]

Points per 40: Waiters = 20.97 / Beal = 17.24 / Ross = 21. 10 / Rivers = 18.67 / Lamb = 19.05 [ Ross & Waiters led the pack here ]

Assists per 40: Waiters = 4.13 / Beal = 2.62 / Ross = 1.80 / Rivers = 2.52 / Lamb = 1.83 [ Waiters creates for his teammates much better than the others ]

Turnovers per 40: Waiters = 2.15 / Beal = 2.49 / Ross = 2.57 / Rivers = 2.80 / Lamb = 2.15 [ Waiters & Lamb take care of the ball better than the others, though all were pretty solid here ]

Conclusions: Waiters is more aggressive than most #2 guards, but he not to the point where his shooting becomes inefficient. He puts up solid numbers in 2P%, 3P% and FT% so while shooting isn't his strength it also isn't a weakness. He uses his ability to drive to create opportunities for his teammates, and he is a skilled passer, turning it over less than the other guards despite passing more often. Overall he has many strengths offensively and nothing that stands out as a weakness.

Just from watching him at Syracuse I can tell you that he is an absolute beast in transition, but could improve in the half-court offense. He sometimes settles for a tough shot rather than passing, something he will need to adjust if he wants to become great rather than just very good. If he learns to trust his teammates to knock down the open shot, he could become a devastating offensive force.


Defensive stats definitely don't tell the whole story, but we can still learn a little from them.

Rebounds per 40: Waiters = 3.82 / Beal = 7.86 / Ross = 8.27 / Rivers = 4.07 / Lamb = 5.24 [ Not a strength for Dion. While the 2-3 zone contributes partly to his low numbers, he was only 3rd out of the 4 guards at Syracuse in this stat. In a man to man defense he will probably be closer to Lamb than Rivers, but this is definitely a weakness of his ]

Blocks per 40: Waiters = 0.54 / Beal = 0.98 / Ross = 1.21 / Rivers = 0.04 / Lamb = 0.66 [ Also not a strength, but not as bad as rebounding. His height is likely a factor in these 2 stats ]

Steals per 40: Waiters = 3.01 / Beal = 1.61 / Ross = 1.62 / Rivers = 1.17 / Lamb = 1.33 [ Great numbers for Dion, however this also is partly because of the 2-3 zone. That said, he easily led the team in steals, so I do expect that he will continue to outperform the others in this category ]

Fouls per 40: Waiters = 3.10 / Beal = 2.40 / Ross = 3.64 / Rivers = 2.69 / Lamb = 1.80 [ He seems to be more aggressive than the others, especially when you consider that Syracuse was rarely playing from behind. Potentially an issue at the next level when his team won't have a 34-3 record, since he did foul out when they lost the final game of the year ]

Conclusions: Waiters is not a very tall guard, as such he isn't a very good rebounder or shot blocker for his position. He may struggle keeping taller guards from getting offensive boards. However, he is a very aggressive and effective on ball defender, creating lots of steals which lead into his greatest strength: transition offense. He may need to learn to temper his aggression a bit to stay out of foul trouble, but overall he should be an above average to very good defender, especially if he has someone behind him who can clean the glass.

After looking at all the numbers, I believe Dion will be the best offensive player of the bunch and a solid defender. Beal and Ross might be more complete on the defensive end, but they won't put as much pressure on the ball handler as Waiters. He does have some weaknesses, but I think they are definitely outweighed by his strengths. He might be just what the Cavs need.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Also, as a new Cavs fan I know very little about the team. If anyone wants to write a post helping us Waiters fans learn about the team we'd appreciate it :-)

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff at FearTheSword