“It was unbelievable. Just a dream come true… I’ve wanted this my whole life and what I’ve worked so hard for… But it doesn’t stop here.” -Dion Waiters in an interview for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Dion Waiters, the #4 pick in the NBA Draft was introduced in Cleveland today at a press conference. And while the former Syracuse star didn’t have his trademark block S orange socks on, the highest Syracuse NBA draft pick since Carmelo Anthony in 2003 had all of the right answers for the press, stating many times how hard he is going to work and how excited he is to be in Cleveland.
But for some Cleveland fans, the stats game is all that matters to them. The pick for Waiters at #4 was called the biggest stretch of the draft. Fan sites have shown disdain for Dion’s “pedestrian” numbers in the NCAA tournament. The entire Quicken Loans Arena was even covered in boos when the pick came in on the broadcast.
When the Cavaliers picked Waiters at No. 4 leaving Kansas’ Thomas Robinson and North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes on the table, the fan base was vocally unhappy. The Cavaliers ignored fan opinion and drafted one of the more talented players in the draft over a “name” the fans were more familiar with.
My question is this: if so many people projected him to be drafted as the number 7 pick, why is it such a “reach” for him to go three spots lower? To me, you can mix and match any top ten pick and they are all hit or miss in their own way. Aside from (probably) Anthony Davis, every single top ten pick can absolutely flourish, or absolutely flop. A lot of Clevelanders are feeling the latter for Waiters, but why? Because he didn’t start on a team that was number one in the country for a very long portion of the season, not to mention putting up the third largest number of minutes for the Orange, including every game in crunch time? Because he only averaged just over 12 points a game on a team with such a balanced scoring attack that the leading scorer only averaged just under 14?
Dion Waiters went from playing 554 minutes in his freshman season to almost 900 minutes his sophomore season. He tripled his number of blocked shots, doubled his scoring numbers, and averaged over an assist more per game, all in one offseason. Fans are disappointed in that kind of improvement after one year of acclimating to a new basketball culture?
Do I think Dion Waiters is going to be a superstar? I have absolutely no idea. But the same argument can be used for the flip side. Why boo him when he hasn’t stepped foot on the court yet? Dion can absolutely be a great addition to help Kyrie Irving out, a pick that many Cavalier fans booed in last years draft.
Whether the fans boo him or not, Waiters has a confidence that can’t be shaken, and I believe that he will use the boos as fuel for him to succeed further. Now that LeBron has won an NBA title, maybe it is time for some Cavalier fans to start cheering for their own team, rather than cheering for any team playing against the Miami Heat. The nucleus is set for the Cavs, and the fans are along for the ride whether they like it or not.
Finish this sentence for me in the comments below. “With Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller coming to the Cavs next season, Cleveland will ___________”.