Once the dust cleared and the emotions settled down after the NBA Draft, one thing became clear: The Cavaliers had a very solid offensive draft.
While the selections of center Tyler Zeller and shooting guard Dion Waiters were surprises, they fit coach Byron Scott’s Princeton Offense perfectly.
To have a successful Princeton scheme, a team needs a pass-first, high-post center to dish the ball out to high-energy guards and wings. If the play breaks down, the center must have the ability to create his own shot.
Zeller is an experienced passer who puts a “zip” on the ball. While his 0.9 assists per game average may not raise any eyebrows, Zeller was the high-volume scorer for North Carolina coach Roy Williams. Once he established position, the play was often designed for him to shoot the ball, not to dish it out to the perimeter.
But when the draw-up was for Zeller to kick the ball out, he often made the correct read and got the ball to his shooter effectively. From his time in Coach Williams’ high-paced transition attack, Zeller brings experience of passing on the break. Something that Coach Scott has stated he needs for his transition offense.
Zeller already has the ability to shoot from the high post. Through his four years under Coach Williams, Zeller developed his touch, boasting an impressive .559 FG percentage his senior year. With a 7’0" wingspan along with near-textbook form, Zeller made shots that were dangerous against opponents.
Although he did most of his dirty work under the basket, he has shown the ability to step back and consistently knock down jumpers from the high post. Having an intelligent center who can spot-up is a rare commodity in this league; Zeller has the skills and experience to do so effectively.
Dwyane Wade comparisons aside, Waiters has the potential to become the perfect shooting guard for Coach Scott.
With his 6’4", 215 lb frame (via statsheet.com), Waiters is a freight train when attacking the basket. Although he is only 20 years old, he has already developed the ability to finish at the rim after absorbing contact. Waiters also has the capability to create off of the dribble and finish with either hand, a skill many NBA starters fail to master.
Above all, he has the “clutch gene;” Waiters will deliver if the ball is in his hands when the game is on the line. Pairing him in the backcourt with Kyrie Irving gives the Cavaliers two solid, attacking guards who will be able to efficiently penetrate the defense.
Tyler Zeller and Dion Waiters, paired with point guard Kyrie Irving and forward Tristan Thomson, promise to bring the Cavaliers back to a fast-paced, high-energy offensive style. Between Zeller’s range and passing and Waiters’ slashing ability, Coach Scott has the tools he needs to develop an annual playoff contender.
Faith has been restored on the horizon of Lake Erie.