Cavs Draft Preview: Dion Waiters

Thought I was done with these… then I woke up this morning.

In the days leading up to Thursday’s NBA Draft I will be previewing potential picks for the Cavaliers at #4. Yesterday I previewed Harrison Barnes. Today’s prospect is Syracuse wing combo guard… and bench player, Dion Waiters.

Dion Waiters: SG, Syracuse

  • Height: 6’4″/Weight: 221 Lbs./Wingspan: 6’ 7.25″’/Vertical: N/A
  • 24.1 minutes
  • 12.6 ppg/2.3 rpg/2.5 apg
  • 52.9 2pt%/36.3 3pt%/72.9 ft%
  • Best Case Scenario: James Harden
  • Worst Case Scenario: Dajuan Wagner
  • Most Likely Scenario: Randy Foye

The prevailing theory leading up to today’s draft was that the Cavs would move up to #2 and take Bradley Beal, or stay put at #4 and take either Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Harrison Barnes. That was until this morning when rumors began running rampant that the Cavaliers have an ever-growing interest in Syracuse combo guard Dion Waiters. Oh, boy…

Waiters is an interesting prospect. He can get to the rim maybe better than anyone in the draft and has a knack for putting points on the scoreboard in bunches. He’s a bit undersized for his position according to scouts, at 6’4″ (which makes no sense because that’s the same size as Dwayne Wade and Bradley Beal), but that’s never really stopped him from being an effective scorer at any level. The only problem with choosing Waiters at #4 is the fact that he was never really considered to be going any higher than #8, if even. It also doesn’t help that he didn’t start for Syracuse in either of his two seasons.

Could waiters help the Cavs if they did in fact select him in the draft? Yes, that’s almost a certainty. The only problem is that his talent, or lack there of doesn’t justify leaving Kidd-Gilchrist or Barnes on the board. They’re freak athletic ability and talent far surpasses anything Waiters brings to the table and, quite frankly, would be a stupid decision.

But, if for some reason Chris Grant has one too many shots of Jose Cuervo before the draft tonight and decides to take Waiters what can we realistically expect?

Like I said, Waiters is a scorer. He relies on driving and slashing to the hoop and creating his own shot in the paint off of the dribble. In that regard there’s a bit of Dwyane Wade in his game. He’s going to absorb contact in order to get the ball in the hole. The only problem is he’s nowhere near the same level as Dwyane Wade. If the Cavs think that’s the type of player they’re getting in Waiters they’ll probably be sorely mistaken.

Waiters also has a very unreliable jumper. Could he develop one as time moves on and he refines his game? Of course it’s possible. But then again, if you’re drafting Waiters and relying on him to possibly develop a jumper, why not take Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who is a far bigger, more athletic, and, by all accounts, a far superior player who also needs to develop a jumper?

Ultimately though,

If the Cavs did take Waiters at #4 and everything worked out perfectly he could turn into the second coming of James Harden, minus the beard. That means Waiters develops a nice, reliable jumper to go along with ability to drive the lane and get to the basket. He could serve as the Cavs starting shooting guard OR, depending on who else they’re able to acquire, Waiters could come off the bench as the Cavs sixth man and serve as instant offense in the same way Harden does for OKC.

The worst case scenario is the Cavs select Waiters at #4 thinking he’ll turn into a prolific scorer and he falls flat on his face. He never really develops a jumper, he’s reckless with the ball, and makes stupid decisions. In the end he would end up looking a lot like a former first round pick of the Cavs, Dajuan Wagner. Wagner, if you remember, was supposed to be a prolific scorer, but his game never translated to the NBA. Once injuries and health problems kicked in he was never the same.

Realistically speaking, Waiters could probably turn himself into Randy Foye; a high energy guy who can score points in bursts from the 2-guard spot or serve as the point guard for brief stretches of time. He’ll never be a starter, but he could develop into a key rotation guy on a quality team or a perennial top scorer on a crappy team. In other words, this probably isn’t the pick for the Cavs at #4.

But that is the question in the end. Will the Cavs take Waiters at #4. I don’t think so. Because so many teams in the 7-12 range are interested in Waiters, this feels like a smoke screen to work a their way into possibly trading down in case things don’t play out right. Either Beal, Barnes, or Kidd-Gilchrist is going to be available at #4 and that means the Cavs must not be too high on one of them. If the lesser of the three falls to them at #4, the Cavs might say they’re taking Waiters in order to force a Golden State, Toronto, or Portland into trading up. The Cavs would then move down, and possibly acquire another pick or a player they like from one of those teams in return. This scenario does make sense because the Cavs need players.

So stay tuned folks, things are about to get crazy.


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