Dion Waiters, the 22-year-old guard who’s the X-factor for the revamped Cleveland Cavaliers, does not appear to be on the same page as coach David Blatt about what his role should be.
Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal reports that the Cavaliers want Waiters to focus two things: “defending like crazy and shooting catch-and-shoot 3-pointers.”
They have been holding him after practice to work specifically on catch-and-shoot threes.
When asked about this role, though, Waiters gave Lloyd this ominous quote:
“That’s not my game. I can do it, but you know what I’m effective at: pick-and-roll and things like that.”
The quote comes after the Cavaliers lost to the Trail Blazers 101-82 in a game in which LeBron refused to shoot to prove a point.
Waiters was 3-for-11 for 6 points in 28 minutes in that game. He didn’t record a single assist, rebound, or free throw attempt.
There was a whole lot of this:
And not a lot of, you know, passing the ball:
Dion Waiters passed the ball just five times in 27 minutes on the floor.
— Scott @ WFNY (@ WFNY () November 5, 2014
Waiters has a reputation for being a gunner. He fancies himself a volume shooter and a top-level scorer. That’s fine if he’s on a team that lacks creative offensive players. But for this Cavs team to play up to its potential, the offence is going to run through LeBron James and Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, and Waiters will contribute by knocking down wide-open shots when the defence collapses, not by jacking up contested shots and trying to create offence.
Before the season, there was widespread concern that Waiters wouldn’t accept this lesser role. For example, over the summer he tweeted “Nooooooooo” when asked if he would come off the bench:
He also tweeted out a highlight video from a game where he scored 24 points. For better or worse, Dion Waiters thinks he’s one of the best players in the NBA:
The irony here is that Waiters is an awesome catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter. He made 42% of those shots last year, Lloyd notes. If he would accept the role the Cavs are giving him, he’d be a great asset. But if he continues doing what he’s doing, he hurts the Cavs more than he helps them.
His shot chart for the year is ugly. He’s shooting 33% and scoring eight points per game. The Cavs are getting outscored by 6.9 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court:
LeBron has talked a length about how hard of a process it’s going to be for guys like Waiters and Irving to break the bad habits they developed over the last few years. One of his greatest challenges will be convincing Waiters to be the player the team needs him to be.
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