I’ve been a huge Dion Waiters fan since the moment he first stepped on the floor as a Cavalier at the beginning of last season. His tough man’s attitude along with his ability to take the ball to the basket are two elements I love in any player. As the slasher nearly completes his second season in the NBA, he’s truly a treat to watch. His production on the court, his ability to be a good teammate, and his leadership too.

On Wednesday, Waiters’ 18 foot jumper from the right corner won the game for the Cavaliers as time expired in Detroit. He caught the ball with 3.2 seconds to go, created space and let it fly. His familiar rainbow shot flew with perfect rotation right into the basket. The Wine and Gold stormed the court to celebrate with the exuberant Waiters in dramatic fashion. 97-96 was the final, but that’s just the icing on the cake as Waiters has turned many heads this year. He finished with 18 points.

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Those same heads had raised eye brows with the choice of Dion Waiters out of Syracuse with the number four pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. While he did average 12.6 points per game on 47.6 percent shooting, it was coming off the Orangemen bench. The surprise was that a bench player was selected so high in the draft. Well, surprise, surprise. He’s turning out just alright.

Dion has always lived in the shadows of point guard Kyrie Irving in this post-Lebron era of Cavaliers basketball. The duo has been rightfully criticized of being unable to play on the floor at the same time. Both want to score, and both need the basketball in their hands. I mean, it makes sense. However, we all know about Irving’s injury issues over his first three seasons. Last year and now this year too,  it’s been Dion Waiters who has really been able to step it up once Irving went down. It becomes his team, and his show to run.

When Dion Waiters gets into “attack-mode,” you better watch out. He’ll steamroll his way to the hoop with perfect body control in route to laying the ball in for two points. Occasionally, he’ll nonchalantly hammer it home as well with some authority. There’s also that jump shot I mentioned earlier. It’s a very high arcing shot, but also a very accurate one too. Waiters is shooting 43 percent this season as well as 36 percent from beyond the three point line. A definite improvement from his rookie season.

His biggest weakness is getting a little too happy with that jump shot, forgetting how easily he is able to take it to the rack.

While all of you may be riding the Kyrie train currently, just remember who’s on the floor right now. Kyrie Irving is a very talented basketball player, but is he reliable? His fancy moves and jump shots are amazing, but he can’t do that from the bench with an injury. Both Irving and Waiters haven’t even been close to staying on the floor 82 games in a season together, but I’d give Dion the upper hand on durability. And that’s not to say Kyrie can’t turn it around moving forward.

This offseason will definitely will be interesting. However, if I’m a free agent looking at a new team, Dion Waiters is not a talent I would overlook. We all know that Cleveland isn’t the most enticing place to play, but what we do have is a core nucleus of young talent that is developing into a great basketball team come tomorrow. It’s games like Wednesday’s win over Detroit and players like Dion Waiters that prove that winning is just around the corner.

-Zach Shafron


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