He’s even discussing Sixth Man of the Year.
“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:
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.