Dion Waiters has yet to Find a Niche


Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA had high expectations for Dion Waiters after his fourth overall selection in 2012, and after two and a half okay years with Cleveland, Waiters played fairly for Oklahoma City as a 6th man. Throughout his entire career, however, Waiters’ style of play has conflicted with teammates. Waiters’ shot-first mentality held back the Kyrie Irving led Cavaliers as well as the LeBron led Cavaliers, so much so that the Cavaliers team that the Cavaliers team that went on to make the NBA Finals was only 19-16 with Dion Waiters and 33-13 without him to close out the regular season.

2012-13 CLE 61 48 28.8 .412 .310 .746 2.4 3.0 1.0 0.3 14.7
2013-14 CLE 70 24 29.6 .433 .368 .685 2.8 3.0 0.9 0.2 15.9
2014-15 TOT 80 23 27.6 .396 .297 .680 2.4 2.0 1.1 0.3 11.8
2015-16 OKC 40 2 26.7 .394 .333 .744 3.1 2.1 0.9 0.1 9.4
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/15/2016.

On the Thunder, Waiters has not been much better. His shooting percentages are horrible at 39.4% from the field and 33.8% from three. Waiters has the fourth worst offensive rating on the team at 97 and the fourth worst defensive rating at 107. His net rating is third worst on the team. Waiters’ has a horrible PER at 9.7, and Waiters .044 win shares per 48 minutes is unacceptable from a player who plays 27 minutes per game.

The Thunder would be a lot better without Waiters, and quite frankly, Waiters could benefit from playing in a system that brings out the best in him. Here are a few teams that Waiters would be a good fit on:

Philadelphia 76ers

Besides the fact that Waiters was born in Philadelphia, the 76ers would be a good fit for him. For one, the 76ers are even less efficient than Waiters himself. Waiters’ offensive rating is 3.5 points better than Philly’s, and his defensive rating is .6 points better than the 76ers’ this season.

Hollis Thompson 39 2 26.3 .398 .377 .700 3.4 1.3 0.5 0.3 8.5
Nik Stauskas 38 18 23.6 .356 .322 .641 2.4 1.8 0.6 0.4 7.2
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/15/2016.
Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

The 76ers could use a shooting guard that can score. Nik Stauskas and Hollis Thompson have proved that, while they are decent floor spacers, they aren’t efficient basketball players on either end of the court. Thompson, admittedly, has a +1.9 on/off, but that is a largely flawed number in that he is a back up for probably the worst starting five in the league.

Waiters would have a very comparable role to the one he had during his best season, 2013-2014, when he averaged 16.9 points per game on 43.3% shooting, although, he’d have an even bigger role, as Philadelphia doesn’t have anyone as good as Kyrie Irving, or even Luol Deng, both of whom played with Waiters on that 2014 Cavs team.

A Nik Stauskas and Kendall Marshall for Dion Waiters trade is NBA Trade Machine approved, and it helps out both teams in that Stauskas can be the cheaper version of what Waiters was for the Thunder, and waiving Marshall gives them more cap space. Philadelphia benefits from getting a good player for two players that are unessential to the team’s future.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics have brought out the best in role players. They have turned a group of them into a playoff contender. Players like Jae Crowder, Evan Turner, and Tyler Zeller all were discarded by their original teams, and have turned into major contributors for Boston.

Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

Crowder went from a back-up who got less than 20 minutes per game with the Mavericks to a great two-way player that is averaging 14.4 points per game for the Celtics. Zeller went from a back-up on a lowly Cavaliers team (the same one Waiters played on,) to the defensive anchor of the Celtics who led the playoff bound team in win shares last season. Turner went from Philadelphia’s former 2nd overall pick bust to a player with a valuable 6th man role for the Celtics.

There is no reason to believe Waiters can’t do the same with Boston. If he is willing to play defense, than there is no doubting the idea that Waiters could be the second leading scorer on this team behind Isiah Thomas. Waiters, so far, has not played for a great system in the NBA. He played for a great one in Syracuse that raised his value all the way to the 4th overall pick in 2012. He was selected over players like Damian Lillard and Andre Drummond.

A Waiters for Terry Rozier, James Young, and Jordan Mickey would benefit both teams, in that the Thunder get some young guys with potential, and the Celtics get the possible scorer they need. It is NBA Trade Machine approved.

Orlando Magic

Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

The Magic have been a surprise playoff team this year, and a large part of that has been their defense. Waiters has never played for as strong of a coach as Scott Skiles in terms of how much the coach controls the game, and that strong coaching presence could be just what Waiters needs. The Cavaliers had a very weak coaching presence that led to all of the off-the-court issues the team dealt with, and the Thunder “coaching” has essentially been letting Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go to work ever since 2010.

The Magic are relatively short on shooting guards, as the only listed two guards are Victor Oladipo and Devyn Marble. Oladipo comes off the bench for Orlando, and Marble plays sparingly, having only appeared in six games this year.

Waiters can be a good fit and add a new dynamic to a 20th ranked offensive team in the NBA. With a strong presence like Skiles, it is hard to imagine Waiters getting big minutes if he plays inefficiently on either end, especially defensively.

A C.J. Watson, Devyn Marble, and Shabazz Napier for Dion Waiters and D.J. Augustin gives Oklahoma City a great back-up in Watson, and two young players with potential in Napier and Marble. Orlando gets Waiters, and D.J. Augustin, who replaces Napier and Watson at back-up point guard. Augustin also is a good fit because he thrived under a defensive minded head coach in Chicago with Thibodeau, and he would have a similar situation in Orlando. This trade is NBA Trade Machine approved.

No matter where Waiters ends up. It is essential that he improves his efficiency. Inefficient guards are getting weeded out of the NBA with the Analytics and Advanced Statistics movement. If Waiters isn’t careful, he could be out of a job soon, and be remembered as the bust who was picked over Lillard, Drummond, Draymond Green, and others.

One Comment Add yours

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