Dion Waiters isn’t a player that easily melds into a system. The guy needs… craves the ball and he’s in the league because of what he can do when he gets it.
Waiters is very much like what Manu Ginobili was with the Spurs in his early years, J.R. Smith throughout every stop of his career and Nick Young; players that aren’t necessarily the stars of their team, but are so talented in their skills to abstract that they’ve carved careers out of making something out of nothing… or sometimes nothing out of something.
LeBron James is no longer in Miami, Dwyane Wade left for Chicago and Chris Bosh has all but retired, so Waiters found himself in a scenario that he’s craved — the top dog playmaker for a an NBA team; one that was really struggling early on. The Heat started the season 11-30.
Now with his big shots, folded arms, the career highs across the board (16.1 points, 4.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds) and the “I’m that guy” swag he’s always had, Waiters is the clear leader of a Miami Heat team that’s now in the playoff hunt. Since Waiters started turning up? The Heat have gone 22-5 since the abysmal start. And to hear him say it, he’s always believed in himself (we know that to be true):
“This season right here, I truly believe it shows players that when things aren’t going right, or if you’re on better teams and have a lesser role, or you’re knowing you can do some of the things these other guys are doing but never really had the chance, be patient,” Waiters told The Vertical.
Teaming with Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, Waiters provides the swagger. He’s that player that won’t shy away from a shot; in fact he’ll probably steal the ball away from his teammates so that he gets that opportunity. That’s how arrogant and confident he is. But don’t just listen to me, this is what Waiters has to be say about being mentally ready at all times:
“Keep working and always have faith and the utmost confidence in yourself. I always had confidence in myself. Everybody knows that. That’s how I am. I never lacked confidence. I don’t care. You could make jokes of it. But I’m a man. I’m a father at the end of the day. I can’t allow my child to see his father lack confidence in any situation. That’s why as a man, you’ve got to believe you can do anything you put your mind to.”
Up until this year, he couldn’t find a space big enough to contain him; starting in Cleveland as a rookie — he wasn’t the primary with Kyrie Irving as “the guy” for that team… and then LeBron came along.
Now? It’s probably not that different in Dion Waiters mind; he’s always thought he was the best player on the court, even when he wasn’t on the court. That’s changed now that he’s in Miami.