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.

Dorian Finney-Smith slams putback dunk on two Timberwolves (video)

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The Mavericks have the best offensive rating (117.5 on Basketball-Reference) in NBA history.

That’s in part because Dallas is an excellent offensive-rebounding team.

Dorian Finney-Smith took it to the next level in the Mavericks’ win over the Timberwolves yesterday:

Poor Treveon Graham and Jarrett Culver.

Report: Woman drops sexual-assault lawsuit against Kings coach Luke Walton

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The NBA closed its investigation into Kings coach Luke Walton – whom Kelli Tennant sued, alleging sexual assault – without finding wrongdoing.

Walton – who denied the allegations from his time as a Warriors assistant coach and Lakers head coach – won’t face a civil trial, either.

TMZ:

The woman who accused Luke Walton of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room in 2017 has officially dropped her lawsuit against the NBA coach, TMZ Sports has learned.

Unclear if Walton and Tennant struck a settlement — but it’s not uncommon in situations like this.

We might eventually learn details of a settlement. But with Tennant not cooperating with the NBA investigation and now dropping her lawsuit, Walton will likely get to continue his coaching career without this hanging over him.

It’s often difficult for victims of sexual abuse to prove the crime occurred. Likewise, it’s often difficult for wrongfully accused people to prove their innocence. Tennant’s main allegation occurred in a hotel room with only she and Walton present.

Hopefully, justice prevailed here.

Blake Griffin inadvertently hits referee in face (video)

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Blake Griffin kept causing problems during the Pistons’ loss to the Bucks last night.

He and Giannis Antetokounmpo went face-to-face a couple times. At one point, Griffin bumped down and stepped over Antetokounmpo, prompting Khris Middleton to confront the Detroit star.

But Griffin saved his most devastating work for referee Scott Twardoski.

Griffin extended his arm and whacked Twardoski in the face, flooring the official. Play stopped for Twardoski to recover. The replay doesn’t do the contact justice. Twardoski was moving quickly up the floor when he ran straight into Griffin’s hand.

At least it wasn’t as bad as this legendary Carlos Boozer moment:

Out of game, shoeless LeBron James waves towel on court near play (video)

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LeBron James wasn’t about that NBA-rulebook life last night.

Not only did he get away with a comically blatant travel, he – ostensibly out of the game – later wandered onto the court during play. He got pretty close to the action, waving his towel in celebration of consecutive Kyle Kuzma blocks.

And LeBron was wearing only socks on his feet. He had already given his shoes away to young fans – with 4:20 left! Sure, the Lakers were up 19 on the Jazz, but that’s a lot of time remaining. What a kind and totally disrespectful gesture, a real do-it-all move.

Restless-late-in-a-blowout LeBron is the best LeBron.