The Cleveland Cavaliers may be off to one of their worst starts in franchise history, but there are still reasons to be encouraged. The biggest is the development of the young and talented backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
It may be a given that Irving is one of the NBA 's best players, but he can 't do it all by himself.
The Cavaliers drafted Waiters with the fourth overall pick in last year 's draft mainly because they felt he was the perfect complement to Irving.
After watching highlights like this, it was easy to see why. He can do it all. He uses his size and speed to disrupt passing lanes, contest shots and get to the basket. He also earned the reputation of being a closer during his time at Syracuse.
But could he do it at the next level?
Waiters wasted little time showing us. We do not have to look any further than his NBA debut against the Wizards.
In that game, he had 17 points and three steals in a winning effort.
You can count Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott among those most excited about the addition of Waiters. In an article by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, he said :
We got another guy who can create. We have one guy in Kyrie, but that is a lot of pressure for one guy to handle. Now we have another guy who can share in that in Dion and who doesn't mind sharing in it . He loves that spotlight of having the ball with the game on the line. He is not afraid to fail. That is what I love about him. He is a competitor and he's a tough kid.
Notice Scott mentioned the importance of taking pressure off Irving. When he is on the floor as the only offensive weapon, a good defensive team can take the ball out of his hands, forcing other players on the Cavaliers to try and beat them.
A great example of this happened recently in a game against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 12. The Cavaliers started out red hot, scoring 56 points in the first half while shooting 55 percent from the field.
In the second half, the Pacers made some defensive adjustments, forcing the ball out of Irving's hands. The Cavaliers scored a measly 23 points the rest of the game and ended up losing by 15.
C.J. Miles, who was Waiters ' replacement, was hot the first half of that game, scoring 23 points, but he was cold as ice in the second half. No one else could pick up the slack.
This is where Waiters comes in. His ability to use his size and strength to get to the basket is invaluable, and it would make it hard for a team like the Pacers to focus solely on Irving.
Waiters, even in his young NBA career, has shown the ability to take over late in the game. He did just that on Nov. 9 at Phoenix The Suns did a good job limiting Irving, so Waiters took over, scoring 10 straight points at one point for the Cavaliers. In the end, the Suns won the game, but the Cavaliers were at least competitive.
Due to injuries, the two have only played together in 12 games. Of those games, eight have been on the road, and only three of the teams they have played currently have losing records. This is not an ideal situation for a backcourt whose oldest player is 21 years old.
Despite this, the two have still been able to show us their potential. Their best example to date was Nov. 5 in Los Angeles.
Both played great that night. Waiters had 28 points, shooting 7 -of- 11 from behind the arc. Irving excelled in the role of facilitator, having 10 assists to go along with his 24 points, with five of the assists going to Waiters.
The young duo fed off one another all night, and the Cavaliers defeated one of the better teams in the Western Conference in their own building. When these two are playing like they are capable, the Cavaliers can run with anyone.
Not only are they the backcourt of the future, but it is not a stretch to say that the future may come sooner than you think.
Waiters and Irving already average 38.3 points per game, which is better than any starting backcourt in the NBA. Their assist and steals totals have continued to improve, while their turnovers are starting to decrease.
If these two are this good already, how will they be next year, or the year after that?
There are things the two must work on, mainly defense, turning the ball over and shot selection, but it 's obvious the ability is there . Irving has already shown that all he is going to do is continue to improve. One can only assume the same will be said about Waiters.
With an easier schedule ahead and more court time for these two to find their groove, it 's just a matter of time before their development starts translating to wins for the Wine and Gold.