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Dion Waiters shows he’s got some work to do after Summer League debut

Jul 16, 2012, 1:50 PM EDT

Dion Waiters Summer League Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — The image you should take away of Cleveland’s Dion Waiters from his Summer League debut is him standing out by the arc, waiving his arm calling for the ball.

Or maybe it is the image of him getting the inbound pass with his team down one and 3.9 seconds left in the game, getting trapped by a double team and calling a time out — but the Cavs were out of timeouts, so it was a technical and the Bobcats ball. He pulled a Chris Webber. (Waiters said he didn’t know and the coach admitted he did not remind players they were out of timeouts when setting up the inbounds play.)

Neither of those are the images Waiters wants you to have of him when games start to actually matter come the fall. Becoming an NBA player is a process and Waiters has taken only one small step on that road.

But it was a stumbling step for a guy who rocketed up draft boards all the way to No. 4 (raising some eyebrows around the league). Waiters seemed to spend a lot of his first game either calling for the ball or shooting it when he got it. He was taking jumpers and not getting in the paint — he opened the game hitting a contested three and after that seemed to settle more than he should have. The result was 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting.

“I wasn’t following through, I was leaning back, I wasn’t on balance,” Waiters said of his shooting on the night. “I hurt myself tonight with my jump shot….

“I stopped attacking. I should have kept attacking but I wasn’t really getting no calls going to the hole. I just got to keep attacking, in the league rookies don’t get a lot of calls anyway.”

Waiters had a lot thrown on his shoulders in his opener — Kyrie Irving was supposed to be the guy with the ball in his hands and Waiters was supposed to play off him. But after Irving broke his hand and was out for Summer League, the Cavaliers decided to see what Waiters would do with the ball in his hands. Waiters had the green light all night, like he did back at Syracuse.

It was not all bad, it was mixed. He did attack at times and drew some fouls. He had four assists and should have had more as he did a good job moving the ball but none of the Cavaliers were hitting their looks.

On defense, there were moments Waiters looked like a rookie at times. He lost his man on defense when ball watching more than once.

It wasn’t an impressive debut. But Summer League is about learning and gaining experience, what matters is not this game but how he applies what he learned in this game to the next one. And the next one.

“It was a learning experience,” Waiters said. “It was good to get out there for the first time in a long time. I just want to come back better.”

He’s got the right attitude. We’ll see if he can live up to the hype.

  1. jthammerstix - Jul 16, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    He also hit a shot to give the cavs the lead with like 15 seconds left. Cavs are a few years away from playoff contention anyway.

  2. aldavis4president - Jul 16, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Hell be alright, the kid is a baller

  3. southpaw77 - Jul 16, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    Cavs screwed this one up bad. Shoulda kept their 4 picks and took Barnes, Ezeli, Tyshon Taylor and Barton.
    For a team with no depth at all, all 4 coulda helped and filled roles at SF, C, and backup point guard and backup shooting guard and used their cap space to sign Mayo.. As it stands now they have cap space for 2013 and its a weak class (CP3, Howard, Josh Smith and Bynum aren’t coming) and they drafted a kid who’s 2 burgers away from pushing 230 lbs. Waiters looked out of shape, winded and was clutching his shorts for air and settling for jumpers. Cavs are in real trouble if Waiters or Zeller are busts, it could mean Kyrie bolts in a few years, cause he’ll be sick of losing.

  4. southpaw77 - Jul 16, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    I know, its summer league but if he can’t school guys who will be bagging groceries or in the D-League, what’s he gonna do against real ballers like Kobe, Wade, Harden, and the rest?

    • tashkalucy - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:10 PM

      One game in a summer league and the guy’s career is shot.

      LOL

      And I bet you didn’t even see a second of the game.

      What pro sports have come to via the Internet is simply mind boggling.

    • southpaw77 - Jul 16, 2012 at 7:04 PM

      Don’t think his career is shot but Dwayne Wade comparisons, really? Did watch it, like I said he settled for contested jumpers and looked out of shape physically (by grasping his shorts and being kinda plump and if u played any ball you’d know once you get tired you don’t attack, you shoot long jumpers.)

  5. chiadam - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    So, a guy that could not crack the starting five in college needs work in the NBA? This is my surprised face.

  6. protectthishouse54 - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Way too much analysis for a dude’s first summer league game.

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