RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Dion WaitersPosted by EJacoby on June 19th, 2012
The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.
Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.
Player Name: Dion Waiters
Height/Weight: 6’4” / 215 lbs.
NBA Position: Shooting Guard
Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round
Overview: Dion Waiters’ disappointing first year at Syracuse included a falling out with Jim Boeheim and contemplations about whether to leave the program. But the former top 20 recruit came back a completely different player in year two, where he was arguably the best and most impactful player on an elite Syracuse team. Waiters didn’t start a single game as a sophomore but was a game-changing reserve who could score points in bunches (12.6 PPG) and cause havoc with his perimeter defense (1.8 SPG). A player whom Boeheim said after his first year “played no defense last year – none” turned into the leading catalyst of the nation’s top team in steals. Waiters is a bully at 6’4” and 215 pounds who overpowered weaker defenders on his drives to the basket, leading to an impressive highlight reel of explosive dunks. His physicality also allows him to create space on the perimeter to get his shot off, where he shot 36.3% from three-point range. Waiters is extremely efficient in transition, and he is difficult to stop once he gains steam towards the basket. He also thrived in the pick-and-roll as a threat to shoot, drive, or create for his teammates. His shot selection was questionable at times, but he still recorded a strong 47.6% field-goal percentage, and he turned the ball over just 1.3 times per game in 24 minutes. Despite his strength, Waiters is a bit undersized for a two-guard and he’ll be facing much stronger and athletic players at his position at the next level.
Will Translate to the NBA: Waiters plays with no fear and has a hard-nosed attitude, something necessary for a player who is undersized for his position. His strong driving ability should allow him to get into the lane in the more spaced NBA game. An overall explosive scorer, Waiters should not have a problem getting buckets. His length and strength on the perimeter should be an asset on the defensive end, even if he goes through an adjustment period in switching from his college 2-3 zone defense.
Needs Work: Waiters has deep range but still must work on his shooting, as his 36.3% three-point shooting and 72.9% from the free throw line last season show. His shot selection also must improve, as he’ll probably be asked to facilitate the offense in the NBA. In addition, he needs to work on his point guard skills if he’s going to be a primary ball-handler in offensive sets. There are still some questions about his attitude and why he was such a nuisance to his coach in his first season, and he’ll have to alleviate those concerns as well.
Comparison Players: Plenty of analysts were throwing around the name Dwyane Wade in Waiters comparisons, given his explosive driving and scoring ability as well as his strong perimeter defense. But Waiters lacks the elite length and athleticism of Wade, and that’s quite a lofty comparison. O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies seems like a more reasonable comp, another player who thrives in getting into the lane and scoring in the half court with a solid handle. Mayo was a highly-touted star coming into and out of college, but his role has turned into a solid sixth man in the NBA, something Waiters could achieve at the next level.
Best Case Scenario: At worst, Waiters should be able to fill the role that he did at Syracuse as an impactful reserve in the league, capable of scoring in bunches and running the show with a second unit. But Waiters has greater upside with his explosive offensive game, lockdown defensive abilities, and a desire to take big shots late in games. Chad Ford of ESPN likes him as a top 10 pick and wrote recently that he heard the following from an NBA GM: “There are really only two potential superstars in this draft. One is a sure thing — freshman Anthony Davis. The other one is Waiters. He can be an electric scorer in the NBA.”
Best NBA Fit: Any franchise that lacks scoring from the guard position could look to add Waiters. A team as high as the Toronto Raptors at #8 is a logical fit, an improving squad with a defensive head coach that needs a go-to scorer.
Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “Waiters shut down his workouts and a report has surfaced that it’s likely Phoenix with the promise. Waiters has tremendous strength and one of the few players in this draft with legitimate go-to ability.”
*This post was contributed by RTC’s Evan Jacoby. He can be found on Twitter @evanJacoby.