Over the past two seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers have redefined the phrase "success in the NBA Draft." They've landed four first round draft choices, including 2012 Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving and All-Rookie second-team selection Tristan Thompson.
Entering the 2012-13 regular season, two more rookies have been brought into the fold: center Tyler Zeller and shooting guard Dion Waiters.
Waiters, who was selected with the fourth overall draft choice this past June, has the billing of an instant starter. The question that head coach Byron Scott has to answer is whether or not that is the best role for the former Syracuse Orange player to fill.
According to Bob Finnan of The News-Herald, that may not be such an easy task. The team has already decided upon on two of the perimeter positions, with Kyrie Irving and C.J. Miles earning their position in the starting lineup:
Free-agent acquisition C.J. Miles, a slick-shooting swingman, appears to have locked up a starting job at small forward or shooting guard.
With this being known, the question becomes rather simple: do the Cavs opt to start Dion Waiters at shooting guard or go with either Alonzo Gee or Omri Casspi at small forward?
Although the Cavalier faithful would love to see their new generation of backcourt maestros get to work, the best route to take is that of a "wait and see" approach. Should Waiters prove to be capable of handling the starting duties at a later time, you now know that your backcourt of the future is for real.
Long a Sixth Man
Dion Waiters is one of the most captivating prospects in NBA Draft history. Although the talent is there and the upside comes without a ceiling, there is one important factor about Waiters' college career that we cannot ignore.
He was not the starting shooting guard for the Syracuse Orange. Instead, Waiters averaged just 24.1 minutes per game in 2011-12 and played the role of sixth man.
It is rare that a college prospect is drafted after playing the role of a reserve. It is even more uncommon for a player to be selected in the top five after playing that role, but playing time or experience has proven to be irrelevant in the eyes of the Cavaliers.
Just look back at Kyrie Irving's 11-game college career.
With this being established, it is imperative that Waiters is eased into a role that he is quite unfamiliar with. Starting a game and coming in with a full tank of momentum is entirely different, which is why Scott must experiment before he commits.
Once Waiters has proven that he is capable of handling the starter's role, give it to him. Until it has been earned, however, it is not his to own.
Patience Breeds Results
If we have learned anything in the long history of the NBA, it is that a rookie's path of development is unpredictable. For some, the results will be instantaneous and the All-Star Game appearances will pile up from year one.
For others, however, there is a grace period that coaches cannot simply ignore. Until we have discovered which type of player Waiters proves to be, it is time to let him earn his way to being Kyrie Irving's partner in crime.
The Dynamic Duo must be placed on hold before results come about.
The Potential is There So Why Rush It?
The potential for greatness between Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters is there. Both are elite prospects at their position and each thrive both with and without the ball in their hands.
The question is, why rush what will take time to develop?
Realistically speaking, the Cleveland Cavaliers are a team that would be lucky to compete for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. For that reason, it is imperative that they acknowledge what is most important to the team.
That, of course, would be a very bright future.
Allow Waiters to ease into the grind of an NBA player. Enable he and Irving to develop the proper chemistry over time, thus starting the veterans who have earned their respective places in the starting lineup.
In due time, Dion Waiters will be a star shooting guard. To truly guide Waiters to such a place, all it takes is a little bit of patience.
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