Dion Waiters, in many ways, seems to be the odd man out in Cleveland.
Waiters hasn’t shown much off-ball ability in his two NBA seasons, which made him a poor fit last year with another ball-handler, Kyrie Irving. How will Waiters handle playing with LeBron James and Kevin Love, too? Will Waiters really take a backseat?
He’s trying to put out word he’ll mesh with Cleveland’s newest stars.
Waiters said LeBron called him before announcing his free agent decision, and in case you wondering, Waiters fits with Love, too.
Waiters, via Mike Sielski of The Inquirer:
Whenever he’s in Los Angeles, Waiters also trains regularly with Kevin Love, who joined him and James with the Cavaliers as the primary piece of the three-team trade that sent Andrew Wiggins and Young to the Timberwolves.
"He likes my game," Waiters said. "He thinks I’m underrated. One of the things about K-Love, he knows I pass the ball."
Umm… Waiters ranked No. 193 in the NBA last season in passes per game – between Trevor Booker and Draymond Green, power forwards who had the ball less and played significantly fewer minutes than Waiters. If Love thinks Waiters is a passer, Love is wrong. (Waiters putting words in Love’s mouth is not reason to believe Love actually thinks this.)
But you can see why Waiters wants to convince the Cavaliers he belongs. Playing with LeBron, Love and Irving brings tremendous opportunities – and Waiters knows it.
Waiters, via Sielski:
"When I get the opportunity to get the ball, I’ve got to destroy my opponent," he said. "The rest of the floor is going to be so wide open that, once I get by him, the rest of it should be easy."
I practically see Waiters eyes light up as I read that quote. His strength could really create mismatches inside against other guards in David Blatt’s system.
But for Waiters to carve out a big role, he’ll actually have to prove he’ll pass. Otherwise, it’s easy enough to bury him on the bench or trade him.