The Cavs (Finally!) Traded Dion Waiters. I Am Ecstatic. Here’s Why. » VSB

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The Cavs (Finally!) Traded Dion Waiters. I Am Ecstatic. Here’s Why.

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1. At the moment, Dion Waiters is not a very good NBA basketball player. This is a fact most who follow the NBA agree on. He is average to below average in pretty much every advanced metric you can name — advanced metrics were basically invented just to prove that players like Dion Waiters were ineffective — and he only passes the eye test if you rub Old Bay in your eyes. There are some who believe his current status is temporary; that he has the potential to one day be a very good NBA basketball player. I do not. Much of the talk about his potential is connected to his draft position (he was the 4th pick in the NBA draft). Basically, since the nutless monkeys employed in Cleveland’s front office then decided to pick him that high, he must be talented enough to justify their decision, so any flash of potential ends up being a sign of what he could eventually be. So, instead of being seen as a (relatively) short and (relatively) unathletic shooting guard with no single elite NBA skill — which is exactly what he is — he becomes a guy who “just needs the right situation” or “needs to mature” or “needs to stop running trains with Josh Gordon.”

There are worse things in the world than not being a very good NBA basketball player. Beets, for instance. What makes Waiters fucking Waiters is the fact that he steadfastly believes he is a very good NBA basketball player. Not “will be one day.” Or “can eventually be if I work really hard and stop running trains.” No, he believes he is a very good NBA basketball player today. Like, right now. As you’re reading this at your cubicle or on a Megabus to Baltimore, Dion Waiters is somewhere (probably Chipotle) believing that he’s a very good NBA basketball player. This belief influences everything he does on the basketball court. The contrasting reality influences the result of everything he does on the basketball court. The semi-contested 19-foot stepbacks with 18 seconds left on the shot clock; shots that are always only semi-contested because the guy guarding him is usually baiting him into shooting. The hysterical clapping of his hands and flailing of his arms whenever a teammate has the audacity to not stop everything they’re currently attempting to do and realize that Dion Fucking Waiters wants the basketball. The shrieks of “And one!!!” whenever he misses another layup (Which happens frequently because he’s an NBA shooting guard who somehow can’t shoot left-handed layups!) and hopes to get bailed out by the refs. The chest pounds, ice grills, glares, and shit talking whenever one or two of the last six or seven shots he attempts somehow limps its way into the hoop.

He’s the rare type who manages to be two of the most hated pick-up basketball archetypes: “The Guy Who Think’s He’s Much Better Than He Actually Is And Ends Up Shooting Your Team Out Of A Win” and “The Guy Who Calls Ball Every Time He Misses And Wants To Fight Every Time Someone Boxes Him Out.”

Basically, Dion Waiters is the basketball jabberwocky.

2. Also, you cannot talk about Dion Waiters — at least I cannot — without talking about Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. (Yes, I know. Just stay with me.)

Stephen Curry is not the best player in the NBA, but he is the most entertaining and may very likely be the MVP this season. He has an electric and exhilarating game that combines historically elite shooting, adroit ball-handling, and surprisingly creative passing and finishing with a legitimate fearlessness and unbridled joy that makes him both your 16-year-old nephew’s favorite NBA player and your nephew’s 46-year-old high school coach’s favorite player.

But, the Stephen Curry we know today would not be the Stephen Curry we know today if not for something that happened on March 13, 2012.

On that date, Monta Ellis was traded from the Golden State Warriors (Curry’s team) to the Milwaukee Bucks. Who he was traded for (Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson) is (relatively) inconsequential. What matters here is that the Warriors traded Ellis. And this matters because Ellis, while very talented, believed he, not Curry, deserved to be the Warriors’ franchise player.

Ellis balked when the Warriors first drafted Curry, questioning why the franchise would select a combo guard who was so similar to him in size (Both Ellis and Curry are 6’3 and roughly 180 pounds) and playing style. They managed to coexist on the court, but the relatively laidback Curry — who battled injuries his first few years — clearly deferred to the more headstrong Ellis. And Ellis clearly took the franchise’s favor of Curry over him personally; which, if you believe you’re better than the person getting the favor — which Ellis did — is understandable.

So, for Stephen Curry to be free to be able to be the Stephen Curry we see today, Monta Ellis had to leave. He would not have blossomed the same way if still forced to share a backcourt with a guy intent on proving he’s better than him. Just look at the jump in his stats between the last year he played with Ellis (2011-2012) and the first full year without Ellis. 

And, as a founding member of the Kyrie Irving fan club, this is why I’m fucking ecstatic the Cavs finally traded Dion Waiters.

From day one, drafting Waiters while already having Irving never made much sense. They’re similar sized and have somewhat overlapping skill sets, with Irving’s skills vastly surpassing Waiters’. And, to make things worse, Waiters steadfastly believes he’s better than Kyrie — because Dion Waiters is Dion Waiters — and this belief resulted in a never-not-awkward backcourt pairing with one already headstrong guy itching to prove he’s better than a guy he’s clearly — clearly — not better than. This wasn’t Kelly Rowland sheepishly saying she was “co-lead” singers with Beyonce. This was Destiny’s Child drafting K. Michelle, with K. Michelle snatching mics and wigs from Bey on stage.

But now Waiters is gone. And Kyrie has a chance to play the way he plays every other time Dion Waiters is not one of his teammates.

You know, the way he played here…

…and here…

..and here.

That said, Waiters is 23. He has a considerable amount of time to prove everything I’m saying here today about his attitude and lack of self-awareness is wrong. And if he’s smart, he will. Because he’s now teammates with Russell Westbrook, and if he tries that “It’s my turn to shoot because we need equal shots because I’m better than you” shit with Russell Westbrook on the floor, Russell Westbrook might literally decapitate him. And while I’m fucking ecstatic Dion Waiters is gone off the Cavs, I don’t want him, you know, dead or anything.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Ubuntu Thina Simunye

    He’s the rare type who manages to be two of the most hated pick-up basketball archetypes: “The Guy Who Think’s He’s Much Better Than He Actually Is And Ends Up Shooting Your Team Out Of A Win” and “The Guy Who Calls Ball Every Time He Misses And Wants To Fight Every Time Someone Boxes Him Out.”

    I legit cracked aaaannnnnd got so angry at this.
    Soo… basically, he’s that older cousin, who may or may not have been the shit in high-school, but had to do a 5-7 year bid for robbing a Taco Bell/KFC combo?

    • Damon Young

      that’s the thing: the prison ball guys don’t call fouls, like, ever. which means they expect you not to call foul when they clothesline you on the way to the hoop

  • Nicholas Peters

    – Eh… I was eagerly anticipating the Dion Waters vs. Kyrie Irving fight with Lebron trying to break it up and Kevin Love standing in the corner like “I could be in LA right now, I moved to Cleveland for this?”

    – and Kyrie is “The Guy Who Is Good But Think’s He’s Much Better Than He Actually Is” he’s nice with a small “n” but he thinks he’s the best player on the court, when Lebron and Kevin Love are on the floor @ the same time…he needs to play his position…

    • Damon Young

      what would “playing his position” entail?

      • Nicholas Peters

        Realizing that Lebron James is the best basketball player on earth and differ accordingly and that the Cavs offense becomes ever so more dangerous when Kevin Love is involved and adjust accordingly…

        He puffing his chest out with 0 playoff wins against a man who has 2 rings and has been in 4 straight finals

        • He’s 8 years younger than LeBron

          • LeBron isn’t a PG…Kyrie is. The problem with the Cavs is that that fact hasn’t been set in stone.

            Unlike LeBron, Kyrie can’t play 3-4 different positions – he’s a specialist, and people are silly if they think LeBron is better at it that Kyrie Irving. LeBron has never played the PG position well. He tried it in his freshman year in Cleveland and his first couple games in Miami, it’s just not his skill set. Plus, it being a PG-driven league, it’s kind of silly to not make maximum usage of a player who is among the best in his position.

            • T.Q. Fuego

              Lebron’s a point forward like Scottie Pippen was, but Irving has to mature as a passer and playmaker before Lebron trusts him with ballhandling duties more. It’s probably ideal for their half court offense to go through Lebron 60% of the time and Kyrie the other 40% with Love also getting touches on those possessions more often than not.

          • Nicholas Peters

            Ehh.. Lebron is much more complete and team oriented… 2 years might be too soon, maybe 3…

            Right now if the Cavs want to compete…and Lebron is 30 they need to worry about competing know…he needs to fallback

  • PANTHERS PLAY SATURDAY AT 8PM!!!!!!

    GO CATS!!!!

    FOOTBALL!!!!

    PANTHERS!!!!

    PANTHERS!!!!

    PANTHERSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!

    • Also FUKC Ohio. I hope Oregon waxes that arse on Saturday too.

      ROLL DAMB TIDEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

      BAMAAAAA!!!!!!

    • Guest

      .

    • Cuz F ck Seattle

      • Finally! Someone out here on VSB who at least, wants my team to win this weekend!! GO TRISTAN!!!!! GO ME!!!! GOOOOOO PANTHERSSSS!!!!!

  • Aaron

    This was magnificently stated.

    Thank you. May God Bless you, and your children.

    • Aaron

      Eh … that should be moving … whatever.

      • Damon Young

        that’s what she said?

  • Why is the NBA so full of average to below average men who play basketball? As a whole you can be a Dion Waiters and get signed but in any other sport there is not that much room for professional error. Why??

    • Damon Young

      If Dion Waiters and I played a game of one-on-one to 100…he would probably beat me 100 to 0. Unless he played blindfolded, or I just straight kicked his knees every time he got the ball, I’d have no chance of stopping him from scoring. And I’m really, really, really good at basketball.

      My point? NBA guys — even guys who don’t seem as good by NBA standards — are all freak of nature basketball players. But, when you have the best basketball players in the world all playing in the same league, some are going to be worse than others. So, when I say Waiters is “below average,” that’s in an NBA context. Not a “dude who can play basketball” context.

      Lastly, you actually have your point backwards. Because there’s so few spots in the NBA (roughly 400), it’s actually the most exclusive of the major pro sports.

    • Players aren’t allowed to develop, a year in college then you’re given the keys to a franchise, you go thru 2-3 coaches and systems and then if you don’t produce you’re basically done. It took John Wall 4 years to finally come into his own, same for Curry, Lowry, and now someone like Waiters has already been relegated to role player on a contender and its only year 3

      • Well, the NBA has always kind of been like that. I remember a couple years ago, where people were asking John Salley why he wasn’t dominant in the NBA like he was in college, and he said that it’s because in the NBA single games don’t have as much meaning as in college. He said in college, if you drop 30 in a game, for a whole week that game means something. In the NBA, you drop 30, and if you drop 2 the next day, you’re back to being a bum.

        Those who become stars in the NBA are people who are primarily self-driven and self-motivated, far more than just being competitive. It’s like MJ said, that his biggest competition in his career wasn’t any other player but himself.

        • Damon Young

          I remember a couple years ago, where people were asking John Salley why he wasn’t dominant in the NBA like he was in college

          Salley could have also said “Because I just wasn’t that good of an NBA player.” And he could have followed that with “And…I was far from dominant in college. I only averaged 13 and 7 as a senior.”

  • Tx10inch

    Damion Lilliard > Kyrie Irving

    • Fact

    • Damon Young

      this year, definitely

      • Tx10inch

        I know you’re a Kyrie stan and I def respect your basketball IQ but I just love Lilliard’s game. He’s fearless. Even though they’re almost equal in every way (stats and appearance wise) I believe Lilliard is not only better this yr but going forward. If they both stay injury free he’ll also be the better guard at the end of their careers. Irving only has one more All star appearance at the moment than Lilliard.

        Tale of the Tape:

        Kyrie Irving

        6-3, 193 pounds, 22 years old

        Individual Awards: Two-time All-Star, NBA Rookie of the Year

        Career stats: 33.7 minutes, 20.7 points, 44 percent field goal, 38 percent three point, 86 percent free throws, 3.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 3.0 turnovers.

        Head-to-head: 37.6 minutes, 25.6 points, 44 percent field goal, 27 percent three point, 100 percent (14-of-14) free throws, 2.6 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.6 turnovers, 1 win.

        Damian Lillard

        6-3, 195 pounds, 24

        Individual Awards: One-time All-Star, NBA Rookie of the Year

        Career stats: 37.2 minutes, 19.7 points, 42 percent field goal, 38 percent three point, 86 percent free throws, 3.4 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 0.8 steals, 2.6 turnovers.

        Head-to-head: 36.6 minutes, 25.6 points, 46 percent field goal, 51 percent three point, 78 percent free throws, 5.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.6 turnovers, 2 wins.

    • T.Q. Fuego

      This is a tough one, but I tend to agree. Irving has the greater upside imo though.

      Better question, who’s the top 5 (in order)? Mine changes every month or so, but right now it’s the following:

      1) Curry
      2) Westbrook
      3) CP3
      4) Damian Lillard
      5) John Wall

      D. Rose, Tony Parker, and Irving could slide in by the all star break

      • BlueWave1

        Yeah, this is pretty fluid. My standards for CP3 are a little higher than the rest. He’s had a stacked team for a few years now, but still can’t out of the second round. While Curry is exciting Damian Lillard is a stone cold killer. As of 1/7/15 I’d go:

        Lillard
        Curry
        Westbrook
        CP3
        Wall

        This will change several times before the All Star break.

        • T.Q. Fuego

          True. CP3’s gonna have to get over the hump and upset the Spurs. Until he at least gets to the finals we can’t call him the best PG no more, especially since he’s getting up there in age compared to the rest of the top 5

      • Tx10inch

        Are we talking PURE pg’s? Cause I feel like even though he’s listed at point, Westbrook could easily play 2 guard and excel but he makes poor decisions with the ball at point.

        I’m gonna go with:

        1) Curry
        2) Lilliard
        3) CP3
        4) Parker
        5) Wall

        • T.Q. Fuego

          True, I’d agree with that list. I always struggle with whether or not to call Westbrook a PG, but if we consider him a 2 guard (which clearly his game’s really tailored for) then that list is right. I’d have to give the top 5 SGs more thought but he and James Harden are clearly the top 2 in that case. Imma see if D. Rose can get back to at least 90% of what he used to be, then I’d put him over Parker, but not right now.

      • Well it depends on how you define PGs; are you more focused on the skill or the position? For instance, I think in terms of running an offense aka a floor general is the ideal PG, in that case, outside of CP3, I’d take Chauncey Billups over any of your top 5, ranging from the beginning of the 21st Century. If we’re talking more in terms of skill-set, I don’t think he makes top 10 in that period.

        • T.Q. Fuego

          I take both into account, but just for the position I’d put Billups 3rd after Jason Kidd and CP3

  • Nicholas Peters

    Hold up… Charlotte, North Carolina, Tuscaloosa, ALabama …next think I know your going to tell me your a Vancover Canucks fan

  • Nicholas Peters

    Hold up… Charlotte, North Carolina, Tuscaloosa, Alabama …next think I know your going to tell me your a Vancover Canucks fan…

    • I don’t follow hockey but the only team I would consider supporting is the Hurricanes because I’m a home town team kinda gal. Except for ACC Football because none of the North Carolina ACC Teams have ever been consistently good.

      • Nicholas Peters

        You live in North Carolina and are from Alabama

      • DB

        The best college football team in North Carolina the past few years is probably East Carolina.

  • Ehh, as for this year, I don’t think Dion Waiters being traded will do much for the Cavs, unless they sign Dalembert or something. In other words, they literally have to have 3-ex Knicks on their team to be successful and meet the standard that they’ve set for themselves.

    That being said, Waiters is probably going to gain the most out of this in the long run. He’s going to have to earn his playing time and play D, because the Thunder doesn’t really need him; the problem with the Cavs was that they did need him and he wasn’t producing as much as they needed. Whatever the case might be the curse playing with LeBron continues though: if you’re a bum, you look good playing with LeBron, if you are a star or a potential star, your career never recovers from playing with LeBron – you will always be viewed as lesser.

    Finally, the Warriors have smartened up a lot since they traded Ellis, I got to give them back. They’ve always been a team that can have a good thing going, but can never maintain it.

    • Damon Young

      dalembert would bring absolutely nothing. they need a young(er) big, and no more guys who were in college the same time i was

      • Dalembert’s the only big they can get with the assets that they are willing to give up. No one’s giving up a young big for a scrub, especially in a PG driven league.

        • T.Q. Fuego

          If you had to trade a player to get a young athetic big who would you trade?

          • In Cleveland…

            Probably Miller. Thompson is their most valuable asset, but they need him off the bench, especially since Varejao is done for the season. If I could get a fairly decent big man I’d trade Shumpert/JR. Smith, but I don’t think anyone would want that.

            • T.Q. Fuego

              Yeah, I agree about Thompson. I’m not sure if Miller would get them much in return. Maybe 4 years ago, but not now. Maybe a team with too many bigs and not enough spot up shooters, but I would say J.R. Smith. Shumpert fits what they need from a SG but off the bench J.R. could be a significant upgrade. We’ll see…

              • Looks like the Cavs got Mozgov, whom they desperately need.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBjVL9Lncg8

                • T.Q. Fuego

                  Yeah I peeped that earlier. That highlight reel you linked was way more impressive than the one I saw though. Cavs definitely have a more realistic shot now than they did a week ago, but the Bulls are still the favorite to me. We’ll have to see what kind of chemistry these 3 guys have with the core group. Still enough time to gel before playoffs if everyone stays healthy

                  • Lol, trust I know he’s not that good. But the fact is that he can be effective against other bigs, which is what the Cavs need.

                    • T.Q. Fuego

                      Nah, I was saying that I agree with you. I actually think he’s pretty good. Above average at least. He’s active around the basket and offensive minded (with a decent mid range touch). He’s perfect for Lebron and Kyrie’s style of offense. If he’s decent on the defensive end he’s an upgrade from Varejao.

  • MeridianBurst

    Yeah, I was pretty happy when Derrick Rose was transferred to the Cedars Sinai Raptors. I feel like Kyrie Irving at the top of the key is at his best. The defense. He’s just gotta find his groove with his new garden. They’re like Lebron and Dwayne Wade playing in all that heat from the free throw point line, so…I agree.

    • Damon Young

      i feel like there are some hidden messages and metaphors here i’m not getting

      • MeridianBurst

        I’m just flexin’ my basketball knowledge. Whatchu mean?

      • Aaron

        I’m PRETTY sure this was an excellent troll.

        • MeridianBurst

          Wow. You guys are really not tryna give me country with the cool kids. I’m a sports fanatic. I know everything there is to know about this thing because life is ball.

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