Dion Waiters would be happy to win Sixth Man of the Year

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Dion Waiters wants to start. He’s never hidden that.

But pulled from the Cavaliers starting lineup for Shawn Marion (or maybe, soon enough, Joe Harris), Waiters seems to be embracing his new role.

He’s even discussing Sixth Man of the Year.

Waiters, via Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group:

“I would be very grateful, thankful for the opportunity [to win the award],” Waiters told Northeast Ohio Media Group. “I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing. Hopefully we can keep winning and I’m able to walk away with it.”

“I’m a leading scorer on the bench, I’m a leading scorer in the starting five,” he said with a dead-serious expression on his face. “It doesn’t matter. You know what I’m saying.”

In context, it seems Waiters was asked about the award rather than bringing it up. So, let’s not blindly criticize him for arrogantly putting himself in the race.

I don’t expect him to win Sixth Man of the Year – or deserve to. Beyond not fitting in a starting lineup with LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, Waiters is not the caliber of the league’s top reserves.

Waiters’ strength is scoring, and he’s averaging 12.2 points per game since becoming a backup. That’s tied for ninth in the league among players who’ve come off the bench a majority of their games:

Player Team PPG
Jamal Crawford LAC 19.0
Michael Carter-Williams PHI 16.0
Ryan Anderson NOP 15.8
Isaiah Thomas PHO 15.6
Gerald Green PHO 13.9
A.J. Price IND 13.0
Anthony Morrow OKC 13.0
Manu Ginobili SAS 12.2
Gary Neal CHA 12.2
Dion Waiters CLE 12.2
John Jenkins ATL 12.0
Mario Chalmers MIA 12.0
Giannis Antetokounmpo MIL 11.8
Amar’e Stoudemire NYK 11.1
O.J. Mayo MIL 11.1

Waiters doesn’t have the secondary skills of a few players above him on that list, either.

But, as the second part of his quote showed, Waiters still has plenty of confidence. As long as he understands how to balance that confidence with embracing his place on the team, he’ll do just fine as a reserve – Sixth Man of the Year or not.