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Cleveland is very comfortable with Dion Waiters at No. 4

Jun 29, 2012, 4:32 PM EDT

2012 NBA Draft Getty Images

No team has taken as much public heat after the draft as Cleveland — most people considered it a reach to take Dion Waiters, the Syracuse sixth man, at No. 4.

The reviews have been mixed. Sam Amick at Sports Illustrated graded Cleveland’s draft an “A” saying they picked Waiters but a lot of teams were high on him and how he’d fit in the NBA. Kelly Dwyer at Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie gave them a “C” saying what they really should get is an incomplete because we don’t know enough about Waiters yet. I gave them a “D” because I’m simply not as high on Waiters, but I also will admit that they were not alone in liking him. Incomplete would be a good grade.

The Cleveland front office? They were ecstatic with the pick.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN was embedded with the Cavaliers front office on Thursday night and filed a must-read story about how things went down. The Waiters pick may have been a surprise to you and me, but it didn’t them.

By Thursday night, it was down to about four (players they might pick at No. 4). There were numerous opinions and each scout and coach had slightly different lists. But it was pretty clear there were two names at the top once everything had been culled: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky and Dion Waiters of Syracuse….

The reaction in the Cavs’ draft room couldn’t have been more different (than in the public). They had just taken the player they had rated highest who was still available. That included team owner Dan Gilbert, who fully supported the decision. Every pick has risk but the Cavs felt Waiters had emerged as their selection because of how their process worked, not because they wanted to pull a surprise.

“This was the right fit for our team,” (Cavs GM Chris) Grant said several times, including to the local media at a news conference after the draft.

How does Byron Scott feel about all this?

“I was very excited his name was still on the board at No. 4,” Scott said. “I think we got a steal.”

We’ll see.

It’s the nature of the draft that things are unknown, that there are risks with every pick. Some of the best GMs don’t follow the consensus.

But Cleveland has bet its turnaround on making good picks. They aced it with Kyrie Irving (although that was a straight forward call) but the book is still out on Tristan Thompson and now Dion Waiters. When you try to rebuild through the draft like this you can’t really miss.

For some of us, Waiters felt like a miss. They see it differently. Time will decide who is right. But Cleveland really can’t afford to swing and miss much.

  1. passerby23 - Jun 29, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    I get if you’re excited about a guy, but it seems like Byron Scott is artificially trying to ramp up excitement. They were excited his name was still on the board at #4??? Did they not expect this? Did they really think Waiters was going to go ahead of Davis, Beal, and Kidd-Gilchrist or even Thomas Robinson?

  2. fiyeaglesfiy - Jun 29, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    In the Cavs defense, Kyrie Irving was also only the 6th man on his Duke team and he took rookie of the year honors last season. It’s difficult to predict who’s going to do what when they get to the NBA so if you have to just take the player that you like and not worry about the public’s perceived value based on sportswriters mock drafts.

    • ezwriter69 - Jun 29, 2012 at 5:31 PM

      Uh, he was the sixth man because he missed twenty games in the middle of the season… Waiters was the sixth man because he wasn’t good enough to start, that his legendary COACH’s perception, not a sportswriter’s.

      • lawrinson20 - Jun 29, 2012 at 5:41 PM

        Your ‘facts’… they aren’t good.

        Waiters not starting had nothing to do with his talent, nor the “legendary” Boeheim’s assessment of him. It had everything to do with Waiters being an underclassman, and having had an attitude problem the year before. Boeheim wasn’t going to start him over Triche, who has the right ‘personality’ for JB, nor over the senior Jardine. So, Dion was sorta stuck. But, he made the most of his time, and played a lot of minutes, typically finishing games.

        About Dion, Boeheim recently said something to the effect that “he’s the most NBA-ready of any guard he’s ever coached.” That would include guys like Sherman Douglas, Pearl Washington, Jonny Flynn, and Jason Hart.

        “Not GOOD enough to start?” No one with any sense, who ever saw an SU game last year, evah had that opinion. He was the best player on the team that went 30-3 or some such.

      • TheJStyles - Jun 29, 2012 at 6:37 PM

        The phrase “good enough” isn’t fully correct.

        He came into Syracuse slightly overweight and had a slight attitude, Coach B relegated him to the bench because of it. He got in shape, and dropped the ‘tude and became better for it…

        All this talk about “The Cavs drafted Syracuse’s 6th best player at #4″ is ridiculous..

        That’s like saying Manu or Harden are SA/OKC’s 6th best player.

        Waiters was playing starter minutes.

  3. pmd5319 - Jun 29, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Never understood draft grades. It would be like getting an assignment in school and right when it is assigned to you the teacher says, “Ok, you get a F.” I understand recapping the selections and saying, “This is what worries me about Player X…” or “This is why Player Y should be a good fit…” But you can’t grade these things.

  4. zblott - Jun 29, 2012 at 6:06 PM

    I guess he could become the next Marvin Williams or Corey Maggette (other college back-ups with high NBA expectations), so there’s always that hope for the Cavs.

    As bad as the Waiters pick could turn out to be, he may not even be the worst selection in the lottery with Drummond and Rivers getting in there:
    http://www.behindthebasket.com/btb/2012/6/28/2012-nba-draft-observations-part-1.html

  5. wjmoffatt - Jun 29, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    I mean who else did people want them to take at 4? Harrison Barnes who shoots to many outside shots and get complacent. Andre Drummond who is going to be a bust. The Kansas big who was a back up two years ago. At least this guy brings a physical nature to the team and plays big on the biggest stages!

  6. bigtrav425 - Jun 29, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    As a clevelander and Cavs fan this was/is a horrific draft.when drafting #4 you do not ever reach for someone like Waiters for multiple reasons.First,your rebuilding,you cant afford to miss and/or reach this bad.2. there were obviously better players available 3.you traded away the rest of your pics to move up 7 spots to draft a white center/PF from NC 4.If he really did straighten himself out by the end of the yr and was/is such a good player,why didnt Jim move him into the starting line up??????…no matter what sport,your best players start,bottotm line…….now tell me we had a good draft?…..with all that being said i am willing to give them a shot becasue i trust and believe in Gilbert..Now lets see what they do in FA and trades

    • sd1024 - Jun 29, 2012 at 9:10 PM

      You obviously know 0 about Jim Boeheim and his coaching philosophy so keep your comments to yourself. You sound absolutely retarded.

      • surefooted1 - Jun 30, 2012 at 11:30 PM

        They are from Cleveland…

  7. 49erminer4life - Jun 29, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Some of U guys know nothing about basketball, and did not catch many S.U. Games. Dion was clearly the best player on 1 of the best teams in the country. U guys are down on him cause he didnt start. His clash came from knowing he was better then triche. Check his stats compared to the starters. If not for fab melo and his no english thing. Kentucky would have been exposed. I think the cavs did a good job last night. There gonna be exciting to watch in a few years.

  8. groundpounder95 - Jun 29, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    Cavs should have done their homework. Waiters is a headcase and was kicked out of two high schools for assaulting his coaches. Next, the reason he didnt start at Cuse was because of his attitude. Last summer Jim was ready to kick him off team for mouthing off to him several times.

  9. baddorange - Jun 30, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    As a loyal ‘cuse follower, I can sayh he was better coming off the bench. Gave the team that extra spark. Not everyone can/could play as the 6th man. What the heck, many of these draft experts SUCK.
    Boeheim didn’t win that many games by being a lousy judge of talent,

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