NBA Draft 2012: Was Dion Waiters to the Cleveland Cavaliers the Biggest Reach?

Roy Burton@thebslineContributor IJune 29, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 28:  Dion Waiters of Syracuse greets NBA Commissioner David Stern (L) after he was selected number four overall by the the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft at Prudential Center on June 28, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Maybe the Cleveland Cavaliers know something that the rest of us don't.

While nearly everyone expected the Charlotte Bobcats to shake up the NBA draft at No. 2, it was Cleveland which had the first stunner of the evening, selecting Syracuse combo guard Dion Waiters with the fourth overall pick.

To be fair, the selection wasn't a complete surprise.

Hours before the draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Waiters was the Cavaliers' contingency plan if the team was unable to land Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal.

Cleveland made no secret of its desire to trade up to the No. 2 spot, but with the Bobcats unwilling to budge and Washington snagging Beal with the No. 3 pick, the Cavaliers chose Waiters, sending Twitter into a frenzy.

Waiters has lottery-level talent, to be sure, but with so many skilled wing players on the board, the Cavs may have been able to move down a few spots to draft the Syracuse guard while adding some assets in the process.

Shortly after the pick, the newest Cleveland Cavalier disagreed with those who thought that his new employer reached for him at No. 4.

"I'm an all-around player," said Waiters on a conference call after the selection was made. "I feel like I don't have any weaknesses."

While his confidence is inspiring, every player has weaknesses. And when it comes to Waiters, one of the major flaws in his game is his inconsistent jumper.

His shooting percentages last season were decent (47.6 percent overall, 36.3 percent from beyond the arc), but not necessarily good enough to warrant the fourth overall pick.

To his credit, the 20-year-old Waiters found a way to be an efficient scorer at Syracuse (12.6 PPG in 24.1 minutes per game off of the bench), despite the fact that his shot selection left much to be desired.

What also leaves much to be desired is his height: Waiters is 6'4" and will routinely be forced to defend taller guards every time he steps out onto the court. His strength and athleticism will help even the scales somewhat, but after two years playing zone defense for the Orange, it remains to be seen how well he'll be able to match up one-on-one.

After a disappointing freshman season with the Orange, Waiters re-dedicated himself to the game of basketball and became perhaps the best sixth man in the college game last year.

His improved focus paid immediate dividends: On Thursday, Waiters became only the second player in history to be drafted in the lottery after having never started a game on the collegiate level. (Atlanta's Marvin Williams was the first, back in 2005.)

Cleveland also caused a stir with the No. 4 pick last year when they selected University of Texas forward Tristan Thompson.

The 6'9" Thompson had a better rookie season than every other big man taken in the 2011 lottery, so perhaps the Cavs—who didn't have a chance to work out Waiters prior to the draft—are hoping that good fortune will shine on them two years in a row.

If it does, expect to see a letter from Dan Gilbert (in Comic Sans MS) criticizing those who thought the Waiters selection was an unnecessary risk.