The Cleveland Cavaliers’ season has mercifully come to an end but that doesn’t mean the analysis does. Instead it should ramp up over the next few weeks as decisions are made on the General Manager job, Mike Brown‘s future and the roster makeup going forward will be decided over the next few months. What about Dion Waiters? Is he a selfish, ball hog of a player who is best off the bench as a scoring threat or he is the next stud athletic slashing, shooting guard in the league? Is he a part of the future for the Cavaliers, and in that future is he a leader? Or will be be trade bait come this off-season. Sam Amico chimes in:
– Speaking of the Cavs, one source close to the team said the players have a newfound respect for Dion Waiters. The second-year shooting guard was at the center of some drama (real and imagined) earlier this season. But the Cavs are beginning to feel Waiters “is a great teammate,” as he’s earned respect via “his effort and maturing,” the source said.
In what could be an amazing turn of events, Waiters could now be a player that his teammates can rally around. His effort, when consistent, is off the charts. His ability to get to the hole, pretty much against anyone, is high level. He is getting far better at passing out of his drives to open 3 point shooters, a way he and Kyrie Irving could pair so well together. And his jump shot improved dramatically from his first season, Grantland even noted it in their season review as something they liked:
29. Dion Waiters’s Jumper
There are still issues with Waiters’s shot selection, especially when he pulls up for long 2s early in the shot clock. But he shot much better from long range this season, and there were games in the second half of the season where he looked unstoppable for long stretches. And, man, does that jumper look wet when it’s on. Waiters arcs that baby so high, increasing the likelihood of a pure swish. How high? On long 2-pointers, no player’s shot trajectory reaches a higher average peak, per SportVU data provided to Grantland; Waiters’s average long 2 tops out at 15.6 feet above the ground. And on 3s, only four players reach a higher peak than Waiters’s average of 16.5 feet above the floor: Jamal Crawford, Jordan Crawford, Dirk Nowitzki, and Jeremy Lin. The thing just looks pretty.
High praise for such a young player putting him in line for a huge jump next year as he gets a second year in Brown’s system, most likely, and spends the entire season in the starting lineup. The Cavs won’t be moving Irving, Jarrett Jack is proven off the bench and Waiters/Irving backcourt should be the team’s future, so also their present. The only thing that could possibly get in the way of that is a big move, one that may have to involve Waiters, more from Amico:
– Still, Gilbert is clearly agitated after a disappointing season that will end with the Cavs failing to qualify for the playoffs a fourth straight year. One source said regardless of who is named GM, “they will make a major deal” this summer. Read: The owner is not a fan of the Cavs’ roster as currently constructed.
A trade for a big name will include a number of pieces most likely including Waiters. The problem with that is most of those names are inside players. Trading Waiters, Tristan Thompson and more for Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge or other inside players would leave the Cavs without any wing help, unless free agency gets a signing there. That doesn’t mean the Cavs shouldn’t make that trade but those are valid concerns for the team. Could the Cavs let go of a slightly lesser version of Dwayne Wade, with better range, and watch him lead another team to success? Or can they make the Bad Boys 30 for 30 partnership of Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars out of Irving and Waiters? Either way Waiters will be a big part of the Cavs future, the not so distance future.
What are your hopes for Waiters? Which direction do you want the Cavs to go with him this off-season?