Cleveland Cavaliers: Comparing Dion Waiters to Other Top NBA Rookies
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
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
|1. Damian Lillard, POR||37.5|
2. Dion Waiters, CLE ||29.2|
|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.
Waiters may be third on the Cavaliers in scoring, but how does he compare to other NBA rookies?
Points Per Game Leaders
|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.
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
|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.
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
|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.
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.
|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 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.
|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.
Here are Waiters' overall rankings, with all statistics being per game.
|Field Goal %||13th|
|Free Throw %||14th|
|Three Point %||5th|
|Field Goals Made||3rd|
|Field Goals Attempted||2nd|
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.