For the second year in a row, the Cavaliers' faithful uttered a resounding sigh of confusion, frustration, and lack of forbearance at the Radio City Music Hall during the NBA Draft. The response came last year as forward Tristian Thompson was taken fourth overall out of Texas. The same result came this summer when Syracuse perimeter man Dion Waiters was selected in the same spot.
Very few draft boards around the country projected Waiters to go this high. The notion of the Cavaliers taking him did not even come into play until a week prior to the draft. He had not even worked out in front of the Cavs front office personnel.
But someone really liked him, and that someone happens to be the most important person on the team; coach Bryon Scott. He was voted in the top three toughest coaches, requiring grit, endurance, and resiliency from his players. This is exactly what Waiters' game is about.
"There was no game that he was in where the moment was too big," Coach Scott said. "He seemed to really like those situations. He finished pretty much every game and he had the ball in his hands."
The Big East Sixth Man of the Year fits Scott's repertoire perfectly, and will be an excellent complement to reigning NBA rookie of the year Kryie Irving. There is a lot to like about the Cavs' top pick.
"He's not afraid to fail. That's the thing I love about him. He's a competitor and a tough kid."
Starting or not starting, Waiters was a key contributor to the Orange's run to the Elite Eight all season long. His twenty plus minutes per game feature him as a true sixth man. Don't expect him to come off the bench in the NBA though. The other guard spot, next to Irving, is Waiters' for the taking.
The Cavaliers passed on a number of talented college hoops men, among them include Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, North Carolina super star Harrison Barnes, and Connecticut big man Andre Drummond. But what that says about Cleveland General Manager Chris Grant is that he has Coach Scott's back. He was confident from the start in selecting Waiters with the fourth overall pick, despite the guard having not started a game in his collegiate career.
The previous time the Cavaliers selected fourth overall, they took forward Tristian Thompson ahead of Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas, Bringham Young guard Jimmer Fredette, and others. Not that he became an All-Star or anything, but he did not disappoint after being named the starting center after Anderson Varejao's season ending injury. The highest drafted Candian born and raised player was named to the NBA's All-Rookie Second Team, becoming the first Canadian ever to do so.
If the Cavaliers can get a similar type of production from Dion Waiters, the Cavaliers are in business. Waiters, along with Irving, Thompson, and the 17th overall pick Tyler Zellers, compose a formidable staple of young franchise players that will lead the Cavaliers back the post season.