Published on May 11th, 2012 | by Bryant West, Columnist0
2012 NBA Draft Prospect Stock Watch: Dion Waiters
Name: Dion Waiters
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Physicals: 6′ 4″, 215 lbs, 20 years old
NBA Position: Shooting Guard (Point Guard?)
Current Stats: 12.6 PPG, 2.3 RPB, 2.5 APG, 1.3 TPG, 1.8 SPG, 47.6% FG, 72.9% FT, 36.3% 3P
Syracuse super 6th man Dion Waiters will join teammate Fab Melo in the NBA Draft, and while he has been for months considered to be in the late-teens/early 20’s tier, he’s currently rocketing up the boards.
Waiters didn’t start a single game for the Orange last year, but was still their second best scorer, notching 12.6 points a contest in just over 24 minutes a game. He possesses an uncanny driving ability, and has strength and athleticism to score against smaller guards and bigger wings alike.
Hit the jump for the rest of Bryant’s scouting report…
Here is a gem from Joe Treutlein of Draft Express on just how impressive Waiters is pushing the ball –
On the offensive end, Waiters has made a real impact this season by being more opportunistic pushing the ball and getting out on the break, as he sees over 28% of his possessions in transition according to Synergy, which is especially impressive given Syracuse’s just 178th ranked tempo according to Kenpom.com.
He’s a well-rounded player—he’s a capable passer, has decent handles for a slasher, and he’s a good defender with his athleticism and speed.
Honestly, when you watch Waiters, he comes off a bit as a smaller, poor-man’s version of Tyreke Evans. This isn’t a new comparison by any means—see this blurb by Chad Ford of ESPN –
He’s another player who can really split scouts. A few teams have him on their boards as a lottery pick, thanks to his strength and ability to score. They see in him some Tyreke Evans. Others are concerned that his shortcomings could pose problems at the next level.
Sounds a bit inconsistent, right? Well, in mid-April, Ford wrote a piece and said that scouts had Waiters far higher on their boards than Ford or most other “experts” had. Some even said Waiters was a lottery level talent.
ESPN expert Fran Fraschilla wrote a piece last week titled “A case for Waiters over Marshall”, in which he argued that Waiters is not only a point guard prospect in the NBA, but has advantages over North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall.
This only raises the Tyreke Evans comparisons. Evans played point guard for Sacramento for nearly two and a half seasons in Sacramento before the breakout of Isaiah Thomas moved him to wing, and he still continued to handle the ball more than an average wing would.
If Waiters is expected to play point, he’ll be the same type Evans is—when your point guard is a below average shooter and a great slasher, he’ll be getting most of his passes in a half court set by driving, drawing the double team and passing to the open man. Waiters did flourish in the Oranges pick-and-roll sets, however – as Franchilla points out, he was involved in 40 percent of Syracuse’s hard picks.
Would point totally work for Waiters? Count me amongst the skeptics, even though I am a Sacramento Kings fan and believe Evans’ point guard skills are underrated. The difference is Waiters was the sixth man for Syracuse, and while he did handle in college, he never controlled the ball as much as Evans had in college. Evans handled the ball exclusively for Memphis in the second half of his one season in Memphis. Waiters doesn’t have that experience at all, so if he’s going to make the transition, it’ll be a new start completely.
Waiters name is jumping up the boards, and with his recent leap expect him to go behind Bradley Beal and perhaps around the same time as Jeremy Lamb. But if he goes to a team who needs a point, and his selection leaves Kendall Marshall waiting, that team just made a mistake.
Draft Watch: Phoenix seems a good fit, as they need youth on the wings badly and with Steve Nash leaving need someone the fans can be excited about. Just don’t expect Waiters to transition to point guard and make fans forget about Nash.
Number 13 seems a reasonable ceiling for Waiters, so his floor seems reasonable at number 20 or so. Orlando (#19) seems a good fit, and they need some wing help badly, although not as bad as they’ll need bigs once Dwight Howard is shipped out.
Houston has two picks (#14 and #16) in Waiters range, and while they will almost certainly use one to bulk up in the paint, they could use a pure shooting guard. Kevin Martin’s time in Houston may be winding down, and Waiters would give them a high potential piece of the future alongside some very good shooters.
Conclusion: Originally ranked as the fourth best shooting guard behind Beal, Lamb and Terrence Ross, Waiters now has a shot at going above both Ross AND Lamb. With his superior athleticism and driving skills, don’t be surprised if Waiters is the first “surprise” pick of the draft.