5 Weaknesses Cleveland Cavaliers Rookie Dion Waiters Must Fix
While Waiters does have the potential to justify the high draft pick which the Cavaliers used to pick him, there are a few things he must work on.
This seems to be a problem for Waiters dating back to his Syracuse days. Due to him being one of the Cavaliers' main offensive options along with Kyrie Irving, Waiters pretty much has free reign to take shots at will. This is exactly what he has been doing.
He is averaging 15 field-goal attempts per game, which is fifth in the NBA among shooting guards.
However, he is not shooting with a great deal of efficiency. He is averaging 14.2 points per game (less than his field-goal attempts per game) and is shooting only .363 percent from the field, which is below every shooting guard in the NBA except fellow rookie Bradley Beal.
By examining Waiters shot chart from Vorped.com, you can see over the past 30 days, this trend has continued. He has attempted almost as many three-point shots as he has close-to-mid-range shots. This would be fine if he was hitting them, but his best percentage from any section behind the line is 30 percent.
The shot he has been hitting with the best efficiency is in the middle of the court between the free-throw line and three-point line. He has shot it only nine times
As you watch this video from the Cavaliers game on Nov. 18. at Philadelphia, pay close attention to Waiters, who during the game shot 2-of-13, including missing all but one of his six three-point attempts.
Notice the lack of movement by Waiters. Instead of trying to affect the game in other ways because his shot is not falling, he seems disinterested and content with watching Irving do all the work.
This cannot happen if Waiters is going to be the true backcourt mate for Irving that the Cavaliers desire.
Converting at close range
Waiters has been getting to the basket on a consistent basis. According to Hoopdata.com, Waiters is getting to the basket an average of 4.0 times a game, which is good for fifth in the NBA among shooting guards.
Once Waiters gets to the basket, though, he often has a hard time converting. His field-goal percentage at the rim is .412 percent, which is second worst of any guard in the NBA.
All too often when he gets a bit of open space, he makes a straight line to the basket, doesn't get too creative and has no sense of when help defense is coming. As a result, he is often left forcing up an ill-advised shot, or a pass that results in a turnover.
If you are going to be a slasher in the NBA, you have to make other teams pay when you get fouled.
When Waiters was a freshman at Syracuse, he shot .812 percent from the free-throw line. As a sophomore, his percentage went down to .729 percent. His first season as a pro has not been any different. He is shooting .734 percent from the charity stripe, which is third worst among shooting guards in the NBA.
He is only getting to the line on average 2.7 times per night, so this weakness is not as glaring. Once he gets more efficient with his play at the rim, you can bet his free-throw ability will be tested.
Creating for others
While I will admit the video below was an incredible play, when Waiters does this, it doesn't always end so well.
As you watch the video, notice there are three wide open teammates as the entire defense floods to Waiters, who forces up the shot with all five defenders on him. Waiters tends to get tunnel vision at times on his way to the basket and doesn't realize it before it is too late.
He has had spots where he has improved, including a three-game stretch before he got injured, where he had seven assists each game. Since he has gotten back from injury, however, his assist totals have trended back toward his average of 3.5.
When Waiters was drafted, this was supposed to be one of his strengths. Waiters excelled in Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone system.
He was aggressive in passing lanes, almost creating turnovers at will, and did a great job of hustling and using his strength to blow up opponents plays.
The Cavaliers do not use this zone system. And as a result, Waiters has has less of an impact. According to Hoopdata.com, only one shooting guard, O.J. Mayo, has less defensive plays per minute on average than Waiters.
He has all the tools to be a great defender. He has great speed, size and instinct. He just needs to be more aggressive and defend with more urgency. Then we could see a jump similar to that of Waiters' freshman to sophomore years at Syracuse.
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