2012 NBA Draft: Is Dion Waiters a Smart Lottery Pick?
According to ESPN's Chad Ford, Syracuse's Dion Waiters has been shooting up teams draft boards in recent days because of his scoring ability. Ford goes onto quote an anonymous GM saying, "There are really only two potential superstars in this draft. One is a sure thing—freshman Anthony Davis. The other one is Waiters. He can be an electric scorer in the NBA. There's some Dwyane Wade in him."
This is particularly surprising because just a few weeks ago Ford had him ranked in the mid-20s.
As a Syracuse student, I watched every game of Waiters' last season at Syracuse and noticed a few faults in his game. The first was his much-talked-about jump shot. He has a decent mid-range jump shot, but as soon as the defense forced him to shoot beyond the college three-point line he struggled mightily. He shot 36 percent from three in 2011-2012, which is average, but he will struggle from the NBA three-point line.
Another problem with his game is that he does not fit with a particular position in the NBA. He isn't a great passer, so he can't play point guard, and he doesn't fit into the shooting guard mold because he can't shoot the three with any consistency.
One thing that does separate Waiters from most of the other prospects is his ability to penetrate the lane and score almost at will, but NBA teams will be able to contain his scoring abilities by forcing Waiters to make a jump shot.
Another question mark for Waiters is his defense. He certainly has the athleticism to play solid defense, but he doesn't always put out full effort on that end of the court. In addition, during college he almost solely played in Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone, so scouts have little to look at in terms of his man-to-man defensive abilities.
Waiters also had several character issues while at Syracuse. There have been several reports of shouting matches between him and Boeheim, caused by his frustration over his lack of playing time during his freshman year. Although many of those issues seemed to be a thing of the past, there is always a chance they could resurface.
Overall, Waiters is a terrific talent and will likely be a first-round pick in the 2012 NBA draft. However, he doesn't deserve to be a lottery pick. He certainly has a lot of upside, but there are too many question marks in his game for him to be deserving of a lottery pick.
In the end Waiters' career will compare to that of Lou Williams: as a spark-plug scorer off the bench.
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