With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist going to the Charlotte Bobcats at No. 2 and Bradley Beal going to the Washington Wizards at No. 3, the Cavaliers saw two of their targeted players disappear off the draft board before their eyes. No trade was made to push the Cavaliers up in the draft order, which many believed they would do to land the highly coveted Beal. Instead the Cavaliers used their lottery pick to land combo guard Dion Waiters, passing on players such as Harrison Barnes and Thomas Robinson.
What most surprises me about this pick is that Cleveland passed on Barnes, who seemed to be the favorite to go fourth in the draft and was well-liked by the Cavaliers organization (including Kyrie Irving). I understand that Cleveland is in desperate need of a two-guard, as Daniel Gibson, D.J. Kennedy and Manny Harris don’t provide very much depth at the shooting guard position.
Waiters, who was Big East Sixth Man of the Year, averaged 12.6 points and 24.1 minutes off the bench his sophomore season, a great improvement from his freshmen average of 6.6 points. Since the Cavaliers didn’t have the chance to land Beal, they settled for Waiters due to the lack of two-guard depth on Cleveland’s roster.
Beal, who had a great build that helped him to grab the most rebounds of any guard in the SEC, had great workouts with the Cavaliers while Waiters didn’t work out with a single NBA team. He took the advice of his agent, and worked on his game in private.
The summer between his freshmen and sophomore season Waiters knew he had to refocus if he was going to make an impact on the Syracuse basketball team. He went to the gym three or four times a day, straightening up his act.
What I like about Waiters is that he can score, giving the Cavaliers backcourt the potential to be very explosive. Like Beal his height is a problem, but players such as Andre Drummond have said that Waiters won’t give up on guarding a player and isn’t afraid to knock down shots in the face of opponents.
I think the Cavaliers should have selected Barnes with their pick, as there just wasn’t enough of information on Waiters to risk taking him as high as No. 4. Whether he will come in and make an impact right away is unknown, but the Cavaliers landed the second-best combo guard option in the draft. I just don’t think he should’ve went this high.