There's only so much that someone shooting 41.4 percent from the field and 69 percent from the free-throw stripe can get away with. Clearly, Waiters hasn't gotten that message.
Unfortunately, as Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal wrote, "the whispers from other players growing tired of his act seem to be growing louder." Everyone, other than Waiters himself, apparently, wants the 22-year-old to mature:
He has to stop sulking on the court when things aren’t going his way. He has to stop thinking people are out to get him. The coaches see it, the players see it ... basically everyone inside the organization has seen it.
When Waiters’ shot is falling, he can carry a team. When it’s not, he tends to shut down. He doesn’t defend, he gets careless with the ball... Players have quietly grumbled about Waiters’ act off and on all season, and those grumbles were growing louder Sunday night.
The No. 4 draft pick in 2012 is only as good as he allows himself to be.
"If he focuses on working off-ball, he can be a tremendous asset and part of the solution to the Cavs' increasingly maddening puzzle," CBS Sports' Matt Moore wrote. "If he goes into on-ball dominance and tries hero ball in isolation, it's a disaster."
Look no further than Cleveland's 13-24 record to figure out exactly how it's been this season. Waiters has posted some disastrous box scores, and reportedly been involved in some off-court nightmares as well, per Sam Amico of Fox Sports:
Confrontation between Cavs players reported by ESPN involved Dion Waiters, source says. Waiters sat out last night, didn't travel today.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) November 16, 2013
One source told B/R's Jared Zwerling earlier this season that Waiters "wants out" of Cleveland and was hoping to land in Philadelphia "because he thinks he'd be the best player on the team."
Even he wouldn't fool himself into thinking he has that opportunity with the Cavs—not as long as Kyrie Irving is around.
But that won't stop him from seeking that kind of role, either. He believes he has All-NBA talent, so he wants a spotlight befitting of that skill.
Except the skill is more hype than reality, and Cleveland is stuck watching Waiters try his best to ignore the difference between the two. The Cavs could try to move him, but his value has never been lower. Even on a cap-friendly rookie contract, he's a bigger risk than teams are willing to take on.
He's Cleveland's problem until he allows himself to become anything different.
It's not that his act is unprecedented. In a superstars' league, nothing he's allegedly done would be labeled as egregious. They're more annoyances than dire concerns, although he's clearly on his way to taking them from the former to the latter.
Should the Cavs be looking to trade Dion Waiters?
But superstar rules only apply to legitimate superstars. Despite what he might think, Waiters isn't close to joining that select group. The Association's best bring their best on any given night.
Waiters has poured in 20-plus points 10 different times this season. In eight other games, he's failed to reach double digits. On the season, he's posted a lower player efficiency rating (14.3) than what he's allowed to opposing shooting guards (14.7), via 82games.com. He shoots more than he should, defends when he wants to and can't keep his emotions from staining his sleeve.
If he was half as skilled as he thinks he is, he could probably get away with it. Of course, if he really had that kind of talent, this would not be a story.