It’s a good offseason to be a Cleveland Cavalier.
Between the number one pick in the draft, the addition of LeBron James and the hiring of an innovative new head coach, things in Cleveland seem to be headed in the right direction. That includes shooting guard Dion Waiters, who just eight short months ago was on the first train out of Cleveland.
Just one short year ago, Waiters was clashing with star point guard Kyrie Irving, prompting many to view him as a locker room cancer who’s talents didn’t warrant the immense distraction he brought to the team. When Irving went down with an injury, however, things started to change.
Waiters soon became the number one option on the offensive end, and he made the most of his newfound opportunity, turning heads with his performance. Upon returning, Irving seemed to develop smoother chemistry with Waiters, both on and off the court. No longer were the locker room battles taking place in the depths of Quicken Loans Arena – at least not that we’ve heard about.
This season should present Waiters with another stellar opportunity to grow and mature as a basketball player and as a person. He undertook a new diet and training program, putting himself in the best shape of his life leading up to training camp. In addition, he now has a head coach with the leadership qualities that are necessary to keep a guy like Waiters in the right frame of mind.
Mike Brown’s laid back nature and unwillingness to get on his guys backs was an extremely poor for the boisterous Waiters. David Blatt will waste no time in setting the example of who runs this team. (It’s actually LeBron, but don’t tell Blatt that.)
In addition, the ability to play next to and learn from the best player in the world is a challenge that Waiters is more than up for. We’ve seen time and again that Dion has no reservations about his game, and LeBron should help him learn to use his game more effectively and efficiently, picking his spots rather than trying to run the show. How Waiters will respond to this lesser role is yet to be determined, but as long as the Cavs are winning, nobody has anything to complain about.
I’m looking for Waiters to come into camp extremely strong, knowing that he’s going to be in a dog fight with the number one pick Andrew Wiggins for starters minutes. At the end of the day, I still think the arrow points to Wiggins, but there’s no doubt Dion will put up a worthy fight.
His maturity took a step back earlier this month when he said that he would not accept a role off the bench, something he later clarified was just a joke. Regardless, it’s troubling to see that same “me first, team second” attitude that plagued Waiters’ early career is rising to the surface again.
Dion needs to learn that he will accept whatever he earns, whether it is 48 minutes a night or zero minutes a night. He’s more than capable of winning that starting position, but his fate lies in his own hands when it comes to determining his role.
Waiters has taken multiple steps in the right direction recently, starting towards the end of last season. If he sticks around past a potential Kevin Love deal, Cleveland fans are praying that Waiters has only scraped the surface of his seemingly unlimited potential.
Buckle up for a fun one, Cavs fans, it’s going to be a good ride.