Cleveland Cavaliers: Comparing Dion Waiters to Other Top NBA Rookies

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterNovember 21, 2012

Cleveland Cavaliers: Comparing Dion Waiters to Other Top NBA Rookies

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    Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Dion Waiters was the fourth pick in the 2012 NBA draft out of Syracuse University, this we know.

    This is now where the draft expert and fans begin to disagree.

    While the general consensus was that the Cavs made a huge mistake on reaching for Waiters that high, we can now begin to see who was really right in their presumptions.

    While it's way too early to call anyone a success or a bust, we can see how Waiters is stacking up against Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the other top rookies in this year's class.

    Here's where Waiters ranks among other rookies, broken down by statistical category.

Minutes Per Game

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    For any rookie to be successful, naturally they have to have enough time on the court to produce. 

    Waiters has been the Cavs' starting shooting guard for every game thus far and has received solid playing time. 

    Here are the rookie leaders for minutes per game:

    Minutes Per Game

    Player/Team Minutes
    1. Damian Lillard, POR 37.5
    2. Dion Waiters, CLE
    3. Austin Rivers, NOH 28.5
    4. Anthony Davis, NOH 28.3
    5. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, CHA 27.0
    6. Harrison Barnes, GSW 26.9
    7. Bradley Beal, WAS 26.8

    Waiters is coming in a strong second among rookies thus far to Lillard, who's starting at point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers.

    While his playing time is strong now, Waiters hasn't been available to stay on the court some fourth quarters.


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    Waiters may be third on the Cavaliers in scoring, but how does he compare to other NBA rookies?

    Points Per Game Leaders

    Player/Team PPG
    1. Damian Lillard, POR 19.0
    2. Anthony Davis, NOH 16.0
    3. Dion Waiters, CLE 13.7
    4. Bradley Beal, WAS 11.7
    5. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, CHA 11.7
    6. Harrison Barnes, GSW 11.5
    7. Alexey Shved, MIN 10.4

    Lillard is also the leader in minutes played, so it would make sense that he is the leading scorer.  Waiters sits at an impressive third place behind only the Blazers' new star and first-overall pick Anthony Davis.

    His best game to date was a 28-point performance against the Los Angeles Clippers on November 5th. 

    In wins, Waiters is contributing 22.5 points per game. 

    In losses, only 11.5.


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    As a shooting guard, rebounding isn't necessarily priority number one, but it always helps to have an extra guy who likes to crash the glass.

    Rebounding Leaders Per Game

    Player/Team RPG
    1. Anthony Davis, NOH 8.3
    2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, CHA 7.2
    3. Jonas Valanciunas, TOR 5.6
    4. Harrison Barnes, GSW 4.7
    5. Andre Drummond, DET 4.7
    6. Moe Harkless, ORL 4.6
    20. Dion Waiters, CLE 2.2

    Waiters comes in about where you'd expect a player of his position would. 

    2.2 rebounds a game is essentially just a few lucky bounces, and it puts him behind fellow rookie guards Beal, Alexey Shved and Lillard.


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    More in tune to a guard's repertoire, we move to assists. 

    While he's not a point guard by any means, Waiters can handle the ball and run an offense when given the opportunity. 

    These skills should warrant a decent number of assists, no?

    Assists Per Game Leaders

    Player/Team APG
    1. Damian Lillard, POR 6.1
    2. Alexey Shved, MIN 4.2
    3. Austin Rivers, NOH 2.9
    4. Brian Roberts, NOH 2.8
    5. Pablo Prigioni, NYK 2.7
    6. Dion Waiters, CLE 2.0
    7. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, CHA 1.7

    Waiters comes in sixth among rookies on a pretty sorrowful list.  Lillard is really the only true point guard in the group who actually has a starting job.

    The Cavs offense could really benefit by Waiters moving the ball more, especially with Kyrie Irving likely out for the next four weeks.


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    Scoring is Waiters' bread and butter, but how does he rank in shooting efficiency? 

    Here are the Cavs' rookie rankings in field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and three-pointer percentage, along with field-goal makes and attempts per game.

    Shooting Efficiency

    Category Stat/Rank
    Field Goal % .388, 13th
    Free Throw % .680, 14th
    Three-Point % .426, 5th
    FG Makes Per Game 5.0, 3rd
    FG Attempts Per Game 12.9, 2nd

    Waiters appears to be at his best when lining one up from deep. 

    His 42.9-percent shooting from three would put him at 28th in the entire NBA.  On regular two-point shots, Waiters is a disappointing 36.6 percent from the field. 

    While he has been given plenty of opportunities to shoot, the efficiency in which he operates will need to improve.

Player Efficiency

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    Player Efficiency Rating, or PER, gives us an idea of how much a player is contributing to his team in all offensive facets while on the court. 

    Here's how the rookies stack up.

    PER Leaders

    Player/Team PER
    1. Anthony Davis, NOH 26.20
    2. Andre Drummond, DET 23.67
    3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, CHA 19.47
    4. Damian Lillard, POR 18.80
    5. Brian Roberts, NOH 17.68
    6. Alexey Shved, MIN 17.18
    14. Dion Waiters, CLE 12.02

    Despite being the third-leading scorer and fourth-overall pick, Waiters is a disappointing 14th in PER among rookies.

    What has likely hurt him are his low shooting numbers from the field and free-throw line, along with a low amount of rebounds and assists.


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    Here are Waiters' overall rankings, with all statistics being per game.

    Category Ranking
    Minutes  2nd
    Points  3rd
    Rebounds  20th
    Assists  6th
    Field Goal %  13th
    Free Throw %  14th
    Three Point %  5th
    Field Goals Made  3rd
    Field Goals Attempted  2nd
    PER  14th

    Statistically speaking, Waiters has been, well, just OK.

    With the playing time he's receiving, Waiters should be at or near the top of all the rookie rankings, save for rebounding.

    If he can shake off an average start to the season and begin to improve on his shooting percentages and efficiency on the court, Waiters will make a significant climb up these rankings and could very well challenge Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard for NBA Rookie of the Year.